This Dec. 27, 1906, postcard shows the wreck of the Norwegian bark Hercules just north of the fort on Ship Island. Despite its name, the 1,200 ton wooden ship was no match for the strength of the Category 4 hurricane that slammed into the Mississippi Coast on Sept. 26-27, 1906.
On Sept. 12, 1906, the Hercules had entered the port of Gulfport to take on lumber. It was fully loaded and ready for sea when word came of the approaching hurricane.
Because of their size, the Hercules and six other lumber ships took refuge in the lee of Ship Island to ride out the storm. The eye of the vast and agonizingly slow hurricane passed over Pascagoula, and northeast winds pounded the Mississippi Coast for many long hours.
According to Charles Sullivan’s excellent book “Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast”: “the 1906 storm set a new record for size and longevity. The radius of the heaviest damage extended from Pascagoula to Biloxi.”
On Oct. 9, an inspector for Norwegian insurance companies arrived in Gulfport and went out to assess the extent of damage that the storm had inflicted on the ships stranded at Ship Island.
Upon viewing the Hercules lying on its beam ends, he declared the ship a total loss.
The cargoes of the condemned lumber ships were unloaded and sold at auction. Fortunately, the Hercules was insured by parties in Norway.
Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast’s distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and phone number to Flashback, Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS39535; call 896-2424; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.