In January 1885, during one of the coldest, most violent snowstorms, the schooner Australia ran aground near the Cape Elizabeth Light and the schooner’s captain was swept away by ferocious waves. The two surviving sailors clung to the icy rigging and nearly blind from exposure to the cold.
When Marcus Hanna tried and failed to haul them in with a line, with air temperatures at ten degrees below zero, he waded into the numbing water up to his waist and finally managed to throw a line to the deckhands. Then he somehow towed them to safety.
For his valor, Hanna was awarded the Life-Saving Service’s Gold Medal—the only keeper ever to receive this honor.