Coastguardsman Remember Black Sunday

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2010 Updated Apr 30, 2009 at 6:20 PM CDT

Thursday's weather was a little rainy but April 30, 1967 is known as "Black Sunday".

A storm that day took the lives of a Coastguardsman, twin brothers and their older brother.

Dave Anderson shows us how the Coast Guard marked that somber anniversary.

The Duluth Ship Canal has been a fair weather magnet for tourists for years.

It has also been a foul weather magnet for adventure seekers.

On April 30th 1967, a powerful storm drew Art, Eric and Nate Halvorson to the piers.

"We were notified on the night of April 30 1967 that three teen boys were playing along the break wall. There was a slim possibility two may have made it out to the light house."

Minutes later, Ron Prei, Richard Callahan and Ed Culbertson from Coast Guard Station Duluth began a rescue attempt.

The three Coasties roped themselves together and worked down the storm swept pier.

"We never did find the boys so they must have been washed over the side. On the return trip, Ed Culbertson washed over the side and died attempting to save the boys."

Culbertson's body was found dashed on the rocks of Canal Park.
The Halvorson boys have never been found.

On the 42nd anniversary of the tragedy on Thursday, the Coast Guard family gathered by the canal to honor the heroism of the Coasties of 1967.

Attending was Ron Prei and the family of Ed Culbertson.

"All three were given the Coast Guard Medal. At the time, the Coast Guard Medal had only been given to 44 people and it is the highest peace time medal you can receive for heroism."

For years after 1967, Northland parents, including mine, warned kids of the dangers of playing on the piers.

The incident did lead to changes on the waterfront.

"I was told that's why the gate was put in. I'm not sure if the widening had anything to do with that. When the pier was widened, a brass plaque was placed to honor Boatswain's Mate Culbertson."

The Halvorson Boys are memorialized in the Three Brothers Chapel at Duluth's Copper Top Church.

Petty Officer Kevin Rofidal, who arranged the 42nd anniversary ceremony, hopes all six young men involved in the tragedy of 1967 stay alive in the Northland's memory.

"We often say you'll never be forgotten and this is our opportunity to make sure it's not."

"I think it's a healing process for all involved. Whether its me or the family of Ed."

Ed Culbertson's memorial plaque is maintained by Northland shipping legend Captain Tom McKay and a group called the Romeos.