Meet the Author at the Michigan Maritime Museum Ship’s Store!

Meet the authors at the Michigan Maritime Museum Ship’s Store! Get the chance to meet local authors of famous maritime titles. The books signed by the author are the perfect gift for any nautical enthusiast or history buff!

In the summer of 1915, Chicago commuters were horrified to see the SS Eastland, a massive Lake Michigan steamship, flip over while tied to its dock. More than eight hundred poor factory workers and their children drowned. Twenty-two whole families perished. The nation cried out for justice. Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America—a New York Times bestseller—is the untold story of a mysterious industrial atrocity and how the prosperous, guilty Eastland owners tried to shift the blame to the whistle blower and one true hero on the ship, Engineer Joseph Erickson, a working-class immigrant. Against all odds, an attorney down on his luck at the time then stepped in to save him: Clarence Darrow, the future legal star. This is the lost history of a national tragedy, the case Darrow himself refused to mention the rest of his life. Author Michael McCarthy takes us back one hundred years to the gritty streets of Chicago and the throaty blasts of steamship whistles, unveiling for the first time the full saga of the SS Eastland.

Michael McCarthy worked for the Wall Street Journal for twenty-two years, first as a reporter and then as an editor on feature stories. He is the author of The Sun Farmer and has had his poetry published in The Southern Review, among other publications. He learned to sail on Lake Michigan and spent twelve years researching the Eastland case. Mr. McCarthy has lived in Chicago and now lives in South Haven, Michigan—two ports of call in the Eastland story. On Friday December 8th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm Michael McCarthy will be participating in a book signing and Ashes Under Water will be available for purchase.

On Friday December 15 from 1 pm to 4 pm meet Valerie van Heest the author of Fatal Crossing: The Mysterious Disappearance of NWA Flight 2501 and the Quest for Answers and Craig Rich the author of For Those in Peril: Shipwrecks of Ottawa County, and Through Surf and Storm: Shipwrecks of Muskegon County.

As a furious squall swept down Lake Michigan on June 23, 1950, a DC-4 with 58 souls on board flew from New York toward Minnesota. Minutes after midnight Captain Robert Lind requested a lower altitude as he began crossing the lake, but Air Traffic Control could not comply. That was the last communication with Northwest Airlines Flight 2501.   Shredded human remains washing up on the beaches of West Michigan served as evidence of the country’s worst commercial aviation disaster. The Navy and Coast Guard never located the wreck, rendering it impossible to determine a cause for this tragic accident.   Over a half century later, nationally-acclaimed author and explorer Clive Cussler teamed up with V. O. Van Heest’s Michigan Shipwreck Research Association and set out to do what the government had been unable to do: discover the wreckage and solve the mystery of its loss.   Van Heest’s unexpected meeting with a victim’s son prompts a search of a different kind, one that would be more illuminating than submerged sections of twisted aluminum. Through meticulous research and heart- rending interviews, the author paints a captivating portrait of the victims, recreates the last few hours of Flight 2501 in vivid color, and reveals that the answers are not always found where you would expect them.

Principal in Lafferty van Heest and Associates Exhibit Design Firm, Director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates and a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, Valerie van Heest has explored, documented and interpreted shipwrecks for over twenty years. She is a recipient of multiple awards from the Historical Society of Michigan for the collection, preservation and promotion of state and local history through her interpretation, writing, filmmaking and exhibit work. She has written several books, magazine/journal articles and more than a dozen documentary films. Her work has been featured in numerous books and articles as well. Valerie is a regular presenter at museums, libraries, and film festivals, sharing the dramatic stories of ships gone missing on the Great Lakes and has appeared on television news networks as well as on the Discovery Channel. Valerie spearheads MSRA’s search for ships lost off western Michigan, which has resulted in the discovery of many new shipwrecks.

Craig Rich is a veteran Great Lakes Master SCUBA diver, historian, and author. His books, For Those in Peril: Shipwrecks of Ottawa County, and Through Surf and Storm: Shipwrecks of Muskegon County are available at bookstores across the state. He is director of the Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Association.

A former morning radio personality and newsman, Craig provides professional narration for MSRA and other documentary films, as well as radio and TV commercials, museum displays & kiosks, as well as historical presentations. He is a regular speaker for libraries, museums, and historical societies on the subjects of shipwrecks and local history. As a shipwreck hunter, explorer and diver, Craig and his team discovered dozens of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. His passion is to preserve the stories revealed by these discoveries and captivate audiences throughout the Great Lakes region with true tales of maritime history and adventure.

The authors will be participating in a book signing and their titles will be available for purchase. Free giftwrapping and light refreshments will be available. It is the perfect opportunity to do a little nautical holiday shopping!  After shopping, take advantage of our Winter Admission Special…and visit the Museum for only $5!

The Michigan Maritime Museum is dedicated to the preservation of Michigan Great Lakes waterways, maritime history, and culture. Located at the 260 Dyckman Avenue in South Haven, the museum is a 501 © 3 organization and donations are tax deductible. For more information call 269-637-8078 or visit