Weather Forecast

"The Queen of the silver stackers" was the nickname of the William A. Irvine steam ship, which now sits in the Duluth harbor. The ship first sailed in 1938, and now serves tourists. Those who work on the ship report a number of not-easily-explained experiences.


Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
News Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Duluth has many beautiful sites and historical landmarks scattered along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

One of the most noticeable is the site of the William A. Irvin Steamer ship, which sailed Lake Superior for over 40 years as the flagship of the U.S. Steel's Great Lakes Fleet.


The ship carried coal and iron ore, while hosting guests and dignitaries in some of the most elegant staterooms on a ship of the Great Lakes.

The Irvin was nicknamed the "Queen of the Silver Stackers" after its maiden voyage June 25, 1938. The ship was built starting June 21, 1937, while it was launched Nov. 10, 1937.

Now, the W.A. Irvin --named after William A. Irvin -- sits in Canal Park in Duluth as one of the area's top tourists' destinations.

Tours are given daily, as people walk the 610.9-foot ship, taking in its massive holding areas and crew living quarters.

There is plenty of great history attached to the W.A. Irvin and it's the next stop for the Midwest Paranormal Files group.

A live webcast investigation will be broadcast Saturday, with a pre-show starting at 9:30 p.m. The webcast can be found at homepage or at and enter "Paranormal Files" in the search engine.

Also, you can become friends of MPF on Facebook, where we will have updates and other ways to find the live webcast.

The investigation will be an overnight stay on the massive steam turbine-propelled ship, the first investigation of its kind there.

There have been two other paranormal investigations, where evidence was gathered, but the overnight stay by the MPF group will be the first.

The haunted history of the Duluth area and the Lake Superior region, in general, is pretty vast. There are several books written on the subject alone.

There have been more than several unexplained incidents on the ship, many experienced by the maintenance workers who work all different hours on the ship.

There isn't much violent history on the ship -- unlike MPF's investigation in the Villisca Axe Murder House -- as it was a safe atmosphere to work in.

But with the huge boilers in the engine room, there was always the risk of injury -- or death.

In 1947, William Wuori, 59, was scalded to death in a boiler room accident which occurred on the W.W. Irvin.

Leon Shuffitt Jr. and Stanley Pennell were also injured in the accident.

In a newspaper article, it was said Wuori, Shuffitt and Pennell were on watch in the fireroom, when a boiler tube broke. Water from the tube sprayed on the boiler fire and exploded into steam, which scalded the three men.

The accident occurred in Whitefish Bay near Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The W.A. Irvin investigation will be a challenge for the MPF, but also a very rare chance to experiencing something the regular tourists will never get to.

After conducting interviews during a pre-tour of the ship in May with the tour guides and maintenance workers, we found there has been extensive activity on the ship.

On one occasion, two of the workers were walking through the holding areas -- which are massive and as big as basketball gyms -- when a piece of taconite came flying past the heads of one of the workers.

It just missing him, and both turned around and, as expected, they were alone, since the ship was abandoned during that time of evening.

Plenty of residual activity has also occurred, with footsteps being heard walking down the hallways of the crew quarters around the 5-6 a.m. hour. Footsteps also can be heard walking up steps near the crew quarters, again near the early morning hours of 5-6 a.m.

MPF's equipment cache has grown considerably, and we now have the ability to cover an area the size of the W.A. Irvin.

Recently, the group purchased an eight-channel DVR, along with eight infrared cameras, which now brings the count up to 12 IR cameras.

There have been EVP's (electronic voice phenomena) captured from other groups, which corroborates accounts by Irvin staff of a young girl laughing or crying near the bow of the ship.

It was interesting to find out, as well, that the W.A. Irvin also carried limestone during its time. The theory goes, limestone and bodies of water are magnets for paranormal activity and, of course, the Irvin has predisposition to both.

The focal point of the investigation will take place in the engine/boiler room where the accident occurred. The room is filled with catwalks and is almost three stories high.

There have also been reported sightings in the crew quarters of an apparition of an old man, wearing a captain's coat and sporting a long, gray beard -- which pretty much describes every captain on Lake Superior.

There will be over 10-12 hours of video recorded by the 12 IR cameras, hours of electronic audio and photos taken for potential evidence.

The MPF group will include myself (Brian Wierima), Chrisy Wierima, Brian Halstensgaard, Kristy Sletta, Vicki Gerdes (of Detroit Lakes Newspapers) and Jeremy and Emily Buermann, along with some staff of the W.W. Irvin.

We simply welcome anyone to join in on the live webcast and click on the chat feature in U-Stream and see what a paranormal investigation is all about.

Will anything be captured June 18?

Tune in and find out.

Past MPF investigations produce results

With the popularity the Villisca Axe Murder House investigation strummed up in April, I thought it would be prudent to bring readers up to date on the group.

All evidence which has been captured in three investigations -- which include one of a regional community center investigated over Memorial Holiday Weekend, the Villisca Axe Murder House and the Palmer House -- can be found at

At Villisca, in our best EVP captured to date, Brian Halstensgaard and I were in the downstairs Stillinger Room, where we were provoking possible entities in the room.

It was just the two investigators in the room and house during that time of night.

When going over evidence and audio, along with reviewing video tape which also had audio and recording for our live webcast, a very clear and loud voice came over both -- basically not liking what Brian and I were doing.

A clear-cut "moron!" is heard on both our audio and video.

Here are the facts of this EVP: the voice is not mine or Halstensgaard's; the voice was not coming from outside, simply because it was too clear; we did not doctor this audio whatsoever; and neither of us heard it when it was said.

This EVP can be heard on our website, along with all the other evidence we captured at Villisca, including one of a little girl saying "Mommy" and a full sentenced asking, "Why did you do this to me?"

Villisca was as creepy an atmosphere as one can get and this investigation was as interesting as it got. It was a great experience and I hope you keep an open mind when going over the evidence on our website.

To me, it was an eye-opening experience. But I will always stick to my philosophy, in which we do our legwork, we collect our evidence, go over it and then present it to the public.

No conclusions are forced, it's just our group wanting to share results with others who are interested -- and certainly at no gain for the MPF group, since we don't make money off our investigations.

Listen and watch, then you can be the judge.