The Nordmeer Anchor


The Nordmeer Anchor

The Nordmeer anchor in 2003 with a fresh paint job.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



Tom & Carolyn Scott With The Nordmeer Anchor


Tom & Carolyn Scott With The Nordmeer Anchor

Tom and Carolyn Scott in 2003 hold hands during a visit to the anchor in their front yard on Crane Road.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



The Nordmeer Anchor, 8496 Crane Road


The Nordmeer Anchor, 8496 Crane Road

The anchor is leaning up against a tree at the end of their driveway on Crane Road.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



The Nordmeer Anchor


The Nordmeer Anchor

The anchor decorated for the Christmas season.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



The Final Resting Place of the Nordmeer’s Anchor

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:



Author: Joyce E. Mammoser

Have you ever traveled across the country and saw something so out of place that you exclaimed loudly, “How in the world did that get there?”

One such phenomenon which perhaps you may have seen is the Nordmeer anchor which presently is ‘anchored’ at 8496 Crane Road in Washtenaw County’s Milan, Michigan, just ten minutes southwest of Ypsilanti. The Nordmeer was a German freighter which met its fate in November 1966 just off the shore of Lake Huron near Alpena, Michigan, when a blizzard with 70 mile-per-hour winds stranded the vessel, running it aground where it eventually sank. The sound of a ship running aground has been described by the author, Joseph Conrad, as “a sound, for its size, far more terrific to your soul than that of a world coming violently to an end.”

In the following story, I will attempt to explain just ‘how in the world’ the anchor came to rest in a waterless area over two-hundred miles away. The owners, Tom and Carolyn Scott, are all too eager to share their story. In fact, because of the many passers-by who have stopped to question the Scotts or to just snap a picture, Tom and Carolyn are creating a display to be mounted at the entrance to their driveway adjacent to the anchor’s moorings. It reads:

What Is THIS Doing HERE?

Behold: the port side ANCHOR of the NORDMEER, a significant artifact of Michigan Great Lake’s maritime history.

On November 19, 1966, this German freighter was making its maiden voyage through Lake Huron off Alpena’s coast when it approached the hazardous buoy-marked shoals of Thunder Bay. Despite the mandated employ of a local guide, the NORDMEER met its shipwreck fate. Much has been written about the blizzard weather and heroic rescue attempts that finally resulted in the entire crew’s survival 10 days later. Efforts to salvage ship and cargo continued for years. In 2010 the last visible remains of the NORDMEER slipped beneath the waves. A light bell buoy marks the vessel’s final resting place.

This NORDMEER mooring, however, was destined to ANCHOR a new beginning, to bountifully fulfill a joked-about dream to own an ANCHOR. Behold: Tom Scott’s wedding gift from Carolyn, 3-25-83, secured from Master Diver Bob Massey, salvager of the NORDMEER.

And now YOU know!

The Scotts have owned the shiny black 8,000+ pound anchor for 32½ years. The anchor is proudly displayed leaning against a tree beside the roadside entrance of their acre-long driveway for all to appreciate as they pass by. Tom had always wanted an anchor, so rather than a gold replica to wear on a chain around his neck, Carolyn surprised him with the Nordmeer anchor as a wedding gift.

Their own appreciation has been enhanced over the years by continued research of the Nordmeer’s fateful maiden voyage on Lake Huron forty-nine years ago. Introduction to the anchor’s history was appropriately made by the very man who salvaged the sinking Nordmeer, master diver Bob Massey. Even after the huge flatbed truck transported the rescued anchor 240 miles southward from Thunder Bay off Alpena, Michigan’s Lake Huron coast to their home in Milan, Michigan, Tom and Carolyn have returned to the shipwreck scene several times.

In late 1983, they spent an entire day devouring related files at the Alpena Press. (Their access was granted thanks to a newspaper editor/friend’s personal phone call). In the summer of 1992, their desire to learn more about their beloved anchor took them to Michigan’s Marine City Park on the St. Clair River shore. There they met and photographed the anchor’s “sister anchor” from the starboard side of the Nordmeer. She was handsomely displayed, but in her prone position with her gray, dull top coat, she could not match the awesomeness of their 9-foot erect lustrous black artifact. Still, they were glad to meet ‘her.’ In the summer of 2003, they visited Alpena’s Thunder Bay Marina, and on a clear day with calm water the nearly hidden remains of the Nordmeer were visible from a third-floor window where they said their goodbyes.

The writing of this article all came about after reading the recent Michigan History, July/August 2015, issue. Shown on the cover is a picture of the sunken Nordmeer with the caption, Nordmeer, A Diver’s Delight in Thunder Bay. The article itself is entitled, A Thrilling Thunder Bay Rescue written by Ric Mixter. If you haven’t read the well-written and informative article, your local library is sure to have a copy of the magazine or you could contact Michigan History at 800-366-3703.

And, if you haven’t already done so, drive down Crane Road and witness for yourself the magnificent Nordmeer anchor!

(Joyce Mammoser is a member of the Ypsilanti Historical Society and a neighbor of the Scott family on Crane Road.)


Photo Captions:

Photo 1: In 1983 the Nordmeer anchor was transported by heavy-duty wrecker and flatbed to its new location on Crane Road.

Photo 2: The anchor arrived in 1983 during the winter and was covered with dirt, rust and snow.

Photo 3: The Nordmeer anchor was a wedding gift from Carolyn to Tom who had always wanted an anchor.

Photo 4: In 1992 Tom and Carolyn visited the Nordmeer “sister anchor” in Marine City.

Photo 5: The Nordmeer anchor in 2003 with a fresh paint job.

Photo 6: Tom and Carolyn Scott in 2003 hold hands during a visit to the anchor in their front yard on Crane Road.

Photo 7: The anchor is leaning up against a tree at the end of their driveway on Crane Road.

Photo 8: The anchor decorated for the Christmas season.

Robert & Eric Anschuetz and Friends


Robert & Eric Anschuetz and Friends

Eric, Eugene, an unknown friend, and Robert with a portion of their haul of 100 fish. These strung-up fish were the unfortunate leftovers destined for the garden after the kids made some sales on River Street.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



Frog Island


Frog Island

Site on the Huron River at Frog Island where Robert and Eric Anschuetz once caught 100 fish in a single day.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



Childhood Memories of Frog Island from the 1970’s

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:


Author: Robert and Eric Anschuetz

Twins Robert and Eric Anschuetz spent much of their childhood hanging out at the Huron River while growing up in Ypsilanti during the 1970’s. They knew almost every foot of the river from the Peninsular Paper Company dam on Leforge Road, past the Highland Cemetery, along the area known as “Greenland” behind Railroad Street, near the Forest Avenue railroad and street bridges, along the stretch bordering Frog Island, through Riverside Park, past the hobo camps across from Waterworks Park, leading up to Gilbert Park, along the stretch near Grove Street, past the Ford plant, and emptying out to Ford Lake. Robert and Eric were never the most avid fishermen, but they did enjoy going fishing at the river when they were children. Their two favorite spots to fish were on top of the drainage culvert that fed into the river next to the railroad bridge at Forest Avenue, and on the bank of the river at the Forest Avenue and Rice Street entrance to Frog Island. They would typically go fishing by themselves, with their brother Kurt, or with other friends.

One of their fishing buddies was a kid about five years older than them named Eugene who lived a block away on Dwight Street. Eugene used to stop by Robert and Eric’s house on the way to the river and ask if they wanted to go fishing. They would usually oblige and go along with him. At the end of the day, they would bring home a string of fish and sell them to some of the families who lived on River Street, between Forest Avenue and Norris Street, in houses that have since been torn down. In those days, it seemed that there were only four kinds of fish in the Huron River: bluegill, catfish, suckers and carp. Bluegill and catfish were plentiful. The catfish were a beautiful variety with long whiskers, stinging gills, a bright white under-body, yellow coloring on the sides, and a dark green back. Suckers were bigger and pretty rare. They were called suckers because their mouth had a distinctive shape that looked like a suction cup. Carp were also pretty rare but they were a prized catch. At least once a year, a local kid fishing in the river would land a huge carp up to 30 or 40 pounds. Sometimes Robert and Eric would find a huge carp on the side of the shore rotting away.

One day Robert, Eric, and Eugene decided to set a lofty goal of catching 100 fish in a single day. If the families on River Street did not buy the fish, Robert and Eric’s mother (frequent Gleanings contributor, Jan Anschuetz) would bury them in her garden as fertilizer, taking a hint from the Indians who also taught that technique to the Pilgrims. This was way before the time of “catch and release” fishing that is much more humane. Robert, Eric and Eugene spent the whole day fishing, and sure enough, at the end of the day, they had their 100 fish. They remember taking them back home to show their mother, who took a picture that has since faded, but still captures the monumental achievement. It was a day of fishing that the twins will never forget.

Fishing wasn’t the only activity that Robert and Eric enjoyed at Frog Island during their childhood. Warm spring days with westerly winds always meant one thing to Robert and Eric – kite flying weather! In those days, Frog Island was a rarely-used park that provided a vast expanse of open space to fly kites. When Robert and Eric first started flying kites, they tried to construct a “box kite” out of sticks of balsa wood and newspaper. Their box kite never really flew too well, so they changed their strategy to buying plastic kites – usually from Weber’s Drugs on Cross Street in Depot Town or from the Hobby Shop on Prospect Road near Prospect Park.

Their favorite model of plastic kite was called the “baby bat” kite. The “baby bat” was a black kite in the shape of a delta-winged bat that had two stickers for eyes. This type of kite didn’t come with any string, so Robert and Eric had to buy a spool of string separately. Just as all kids do, they would try to launch the kite in the air by running along the field with about 10 feet of string leading to the kite. The kites would invariably get a couple feet off the ground, do a couple twists, and then crash down to the ground with a thump. The spines of the kites were constructed out of plastic sticks, which sometimes bent, or even broke, if the kite crashed too hard.

If the wind was really blowing steadily, Robert and Eric would be able to get their kites in the sky and slowly let out more string. They would put their index fingers on either side of the spool of string and let the wind carry the kite further and further into the sky. Sometimes the string would burn the twins’ fingers if they tried to grab it when it was unwinding too fast. On rare occasions, they used up an entire ball of string. When the kite eventually came crashing to the earth when the wind died down, it would always be a huge mess to roll the string back onto the cardboard tube which held the string. There would always be small sticks and grass entangled with the string, and it would become so full of knots that it would basically be unusable ever again.

One year, Robert and Eric bought a plastic kite crank-handle that was attached to a spool of string. This allowed the string to be let out while flying the kites, and then it could be easily reeled back in after the day of kite flying was over. This made the hassle of flying kites go away, and the twins went more and more often to Frog Island to fly their kites. On one particular fine spring day in the mid 1970’s, the wind was blowing from the west directly over the Huron River and across Frog Island toward the railroad tracks. Robert and Eric got one of their kites so far up in the sky that they had to use two rolls of string connected together on their crank-handle system. They still remember looking far off in the distance seeing the little spec in the sky dancing above the railroad tracks near the Michigan Ladder Company. Suddenly the kite string became entangled in the power lines running along the railroad tracks and that ended a great day of kite flying. Ah, those were the days, long before video games, high-def televisions, smart phones, and laptops would provide the modern generation of kids with all of their entertainment that keeps them mostly confined indoors. They don’t know what they’re missing!

(Robert and Eric Anschuetz grew up on River Street and are regular contributors to the Gleanings.)


Photo Captions:

Photo 1: Site on the Huron River at Frog Island where Robert and Eric Anschuetz once caught 100 fish in a single day.

Photo 2: Eric, Eugene, an unknown friend, and Robert with a portion of their haul of 100 fish. These strung-up fish were the unfortunate leftovers destined for the garden after the kids made some sales on River Street.

Frog Island Flood Damage, 1918


Frog Island Flood Damage, 1918

Damage from the floods in 1918.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



Scovill Lumber Company Race, c. 1895


Scovill Lumber Company Race, c. 1895

Scovill Lumber Company Race in c1895.

Rights Held By: 
Ypsilanti Historical Society



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