MICHIGAN CITY — July 27 is expected to be an eventful day at Michigan City’s Old Lighthouse Museum.

At 11 a.m. a ceremony will take place honoring the 844 passengers of the S.S. Eastland, who lost their lives when the ship capsized in the Chicago River on the morning of July 15, 1915. On that morning, three thousand employees of Chicago’s Western Electric Company were headed to Michigan City’s Washington Park for a summer picnic and outing.

Speakers will recount the tragic tale and a wreath will be placed in Trail Creek at the site where the Eastland would have landed that fateful day in 1915.

At 12:30 p.m. a special portrait of Michigan City’s most famous lightkeeper, Harriet Colfax, will be unveiled. Colfax was keeper of the harbor light for 43 years from 1861 until her retirement at the age of 80, in 1904. Jim Retseck, president of the Michigan City Historical Society, commissioned artist Wendy Wilcox Kerman to create the painting. Wilcox Kerman is the daughter of Michigan City’s Robert Wilcox, who worked in the area as a commercial artist and sculptor for many years.

Wilcox Kerman, a commercial artist and designer, said of the project, “I was honored to have had this opportunity to paint a portrait of one of our most distinguished local historic figures… Harriet Colfax was an amazing woman by any standards... She was strong, humble, determined and courageous. As lighthouse keeper, Harriet was dedicated to a challenging and often dangerous job.”

Local radio station WEFM (95.9) will broadcast, live, from the museum grounds from 9 a.m. until noon, for anyone interested in being on-air. Admission to the Old Lighthouse Museum will be free to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. on that day.

Take advantage of this opportunity to support your local history museum; remember the 844 passengers who lost their lives aboard the S.S. Eastland and be one of the first to view the new Harriet Colfax panting.

For further information contact the Old Lighthouse Museum, 100 Heisman Harbor Road, at 219-872-6133.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.