With Captain Fred McDonald in command, the Louisiana departed Lorain, Ohio, on November 2, 1913, loaded with coal and headed for Milwaukee. After delivering her cargo in Milwaukee, she departed light for Escanaba, Michigan, to pick up a load of iron ore. Around midnight of November 8, the ship passed through a channel between the Bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan known as Death's Door. A severe snowstorm greeted the Louisiana and her crew as they negotiated the rocky passage. With winds over 70 miles per hour, it whipped the waves into huge, crashing breakers. Captain McDonald sought refuge from the dangerous conditions in Washington Harbor on Washington Island, but the Louisiana's anchors could not hold in the heavy seas and howling wind. The fierce storm drove the ship aground, perilously close to the rocky southeast shore of Washington Harbor. With the seas pounding on the rocks, the Louisiana's small lifeboat offered little chance of getting ashore safely. Rather than braving the heavy seas and surf in the tiny boat, the crew elected to ride out the storm aboard the grounded steamer. By morning, however, the grave situation had grown worse. The storm was still raging, the ship was still helplessly caught on the rocks, and the cargo hold was now ablaze in a fire the crew could not extinguish. Capt. McDonald and the desperate crew had little choice but to board the lifeboat and take their chances in the surf, leaving the Louisiana to suffer the ravages of the fire and the storm. By this time, a lifesaving crew from Plum Island had hauled their life-saving equipment over land to the shore near the grounded ship. However, the breaking waves were too powerful, and the rescue team could offer no help to the men in the lifeboat. At the mercy of the elements, the men rowed toward shore, struggling to keep the small lifeboat from capsizing or crashing against the rocks. In the end, they were lucky. They made it through the powerful breakers and landed safely on shore.