Great Lakes Maritime History
History of the Great Lakes
Vol. 1 by J.B. Mansfield
Back to Table of Contents
Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899
Vol. 1 of History of the Great Lakes
WRECK OF THE HENRY CLAY, 1851 - OTHER EVENTS OF THAT YEAR - A FRIGHTFUL COLLISION, 1852 - LOSS OF THE STEAMER CASPIAN - LOSS OF THE ONEIDA - OTHER LOSSES - OTHER EVENTS OF 1852 - GROUND BROKEN FOR THE SAULT SHIP CANAL, 1853 - LOSS OF THE OCEAN WAVE - INDEPENCE WRECKED BY EXPLOSION - TESTS OF SPEED - DISASTERS OF 1853 - OTHER EVENTS OF THAT YEAR - STEAMER E.K. COLLINS BURNED, 1854 - GRADUAL CHANGE IN LAKE CRAFT - CHICAGO HARBOR DREDGED - OTHER EVENTS OF 1854 - OTHER DISASTERS OF THE SEASON - SAULT CANAL COMPLETED, 1855 - IMPROVEMENT OF ST. CLAIR FLATS - WRECK OF THE OREGON - WRECKS AT CHICAGO -SHIPBUILDING ACTIVE - THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE BURNED AT TORONTO - HULL OF THE ERIE RAISED - OTHER EVENTS OF 1855 - OTHER VESSELS PASSED OUT OF EXISTENCE IN 1855 - VOYGAGE OF THE DEAN RICHMOND, 1856 - LAKE SUPERIOR LINE - BURNED UNDER FULL STEAM - LOST WITH NEARLY FIFTY SOULS - MANY LIVES LOST ON LAKE SUPERIOR - OTHER DISASTERS IN 1856 - OTHER EVENTS OF THAT YEAR - THE FINANCIAL PANIC OF 1857 - DEPARTURES FOR EUROPE -MANY STEAMERS DISMANTLED - HOLOCAUST ABOARD THE STEAMER MONTREAL -MANY OTHER STEAMERS BURNED - RAILWAY DISASTER AT THE DESJARDIN CANAL, CANADA - OTHER EVENTS OF 1857 - FEW VESSELS BUILT, 1858 - VESSELS LEFT FOR OCEAN VOYAGES - STATISTICS - OTHER EVENTS OF 1858 - TRADE STILL BACKWARD, 1859 - LARGE ICE TRADE - PASSAGES OF VESSELS AT DETROIT -OPENING OF NAVIGATION - OTHER EVENTS OF 1859 - WRECK OF THE LADY ELGIN, 1860 - TOTAL LOSS OF THE DECOTAH - THE SAULT CANAL - OTHER EVENTS OF 1860.
The most disastrous event of the season of 1851 was the total wreck of the propeller Henry Clay, which rolled over near Long Point, Lake Erie, with a loss of sixteen lives. The Henry Clay left Detroit, October 24, for Buffalo, and in a severe gale off Long Point, a part of the deck load shifted and was thrown upon the engine, breaking it and making the vessel unmanageable. The high waves tore the deck from the hull and it floated off with ten of the crew, all of whom were lost except one deck hand, picked up by a passing schooner. The hull was beached near Long Point. The Henry Clay was commanded by Capt. George Callard. She was loaded with flour and wool. Of the crew of 17 only one was saved.
Other Events of 1851. - There were 263 disasters during the season (1851) with a loss of hull and cargo amounting to $730,537, and 79 lives. Navigation opened at Buffalo, April 2, the steamer Canada being the first to depart. The Straits of Mackinaw were clear April 3. The first notable incident of the season was the explosion of the Canadian steamer Comet, at Oswego, with the loss of eight lives. She was afterward rebuilt, and her name changed to Mayflower. The Champion, Highlander and Mayflower in 1851 formed a line between Niagara and Montreal, touching at intermediate points, and the Maple Lead, Arabian and New Era were added to the line the next year. April: Steamer Southerner disabled near Point Pelee; loss $5,000. Schooner Moses and Elias wrecked on Bass island; loss $4,000. Schooner E. Bowen ashore at Grosse Point. Schooner Wabash totally wrecked at Port Dover. Schooner Atlanta wrecked near Dover. Schooner Brewster wrecked near Port Dover. British brig Beaver sank at Rondeau; 20, steamer Comet exploded and sunk in Oswego harbor, eight lives lost. Propeller Allegheny damaged to the extent of $4,700, by collision with the propeller Ohio, on Lake Huron. Schooner Palmyra wrecked at Gull island. Schooner Rush filled and capsized by collision with propeller Paugassett on Lake Erie.
May: Schooner Ellen Stuart sunk at Long Point cut. Steamer Sultana damaged to the extent of $4,000 on Lake Erie. Schooner Dawn sustains a loss of $4,740, during a storm on Lake Erie. Brig Mayflower disabled on Lake Erie. Brig Ramsey Crooks disabled, and jetted deckload. Brig Constellation disabled. Schooner D. D. Bogart sunk at Dunkirk. Steamer Dewitt Clinton sunk at Dunkirk. Schooner O. V. Brainard ran ashore on Lake Ontario and burned; loss $6,590. Schooner Gallinipper sunk in Milwaukee harbor. Schooner Clay lost off Ashtabula. Schooner Marvin Henry totally lost off Grand Haven, nine lives lost.
June: Schooner Mackinaw sunk off Cleveland by propeller Princeton; schooner Welland sunk in St. Lawrence river; steamer Atlas sunk in St. Lawrence river.
July: Schooner Gallinipper capsized and lost on Lake Michigan; schooner Rose, Canadian, wrecked on Georgian Bay. Lake Huron; schooner Acorn loses deck-load in a gale on Lake Ontario; scow Sacramento capsized off Buffalo; propeller Manhattan sunk by collision with the propeller Monticello on Lake Superior; schooner Ontanagon capsized off the Twin rivers; schooner Chicago, Canadian, founded on Lake Michigan. August: Schooner John Ward wrecked on Erie Basin pier at Buffalo; schooner H.N. Gates disabled on Lake Erie; brig Ramsey Crooks capsized near Point Pelee; schooner Big Z sunk in Grand river; schooner Arcadia ashore at Point Pelee; cargo lost, valued at $2,000.
September: Steamer Bunker Hill burned at Tonawanda; schooner T. P. Handy burned at the same place; steamer Empire State loses a tow valued at $2,400; steamer Geo. Clinton, with two boats in tow, lost near Genesee, Lake Ontario; schooner Monson sunk at Port Hope, Canada; schooner Oneida disabled on Lake Ontario; propeller Ottawa sunk by propeller Reindeer near Kingston, Canada; schooner Kentucky wrecked at Presque Isle; schooner D. D. Bogart total wreck at Erie.
October: Schooner Christina capsized on Lake Ontario, 11 lives lost; schooner Osceola wrecked on Lake Erie; schooner Erie sunk by collision near Sandusky; propeller Monticello totally wrecked on Lake Superior; schooner Abby Wrecked near Cleveland; schooner Hannah Counter wrecked on the Canada shore; brig Chicago capsized near Long Point; eight lives lost; schooner Wm. Penn capsized on Lake Ontario; three lives lost; schooner E. G. Merrick wrecked at Vermilion; brig Fashion stranded on Lake Michigan; brig Wabash sunk near Chicago; schooner Cambria sunk at Ashtabula; schooner Illinois wrecked on Lake Erie; steamer Queen Victoria abandoned on the rocks at the head of Niagara river; schooner Billow, lumber, wrecked on Long Point; schooner Grace Amelia wrecked; schooner Helena wrecked near Kalamazoo; schooner Saratoga sunk by collision with the Buckeye State; loss estimated at $8,500; four men drowned; steamer Atlas wrecked near Grand river; schooner Prince Albert (Canadian) wrecked on Long Point; propeller Vandalia wrecked by collision with schooner Fashion on Lake Erie; loss $14,000.
November: Propeller Ireland sunk in the St. Lawrence river; schooner Home wrecked near Dunkirk; schooner Texas wrecked at Rondeau; schooner Caledonia wrecked on Lake Erie; scow Flying Dutchman wrecked at Long Point; schooner Luther Wright sunk at Oswego; schooner Meg Merrilies wrecked at Manistee; steamer St. Lawrence sunk in the St. Lawrence river; steamer Seneca burned at Chicago; schooner W. G. Talcott total loss on Lake Erie; brig S. B. Ruggles lost near Buffalo; loss on cargo and boat $27,000; schooner Eudosa wrecked at Dunkirk; schooner Sciota sunk by collision with the brig Quebec near Ashtabula; brig Empire wrecked at Oswego; schooner Huron wrecked at Sandy creek; brig L. A. Blossom sunk by steamer Niagara in Detroit river; loss $10,000; brig Clarion lost two locomotives off deck, valued at $16,000; schooner California wrecked near Barcelona; schooner Whip ashore near Erie. December: British schooner Rachel sunk in the Welland canal; steamer Sultana sunk at Sandusky; scow Anawan total loss off Huron; five men drowned.
A frightful collision occurred between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning, Friday, August 20, between the steamer Atlantic and the propeller Ogdensburg, about six miles above Long Point, Lake Erie, resulting in an estimated loss of life of from 250 to 350, making it one of the most terrible events of lake history. The steamer ran across the bows of the propeller, and was struck forward of her wheel on the larboard side. The weather was slightly hazy, but the stars were visible, and the wind was almost a dead calm. The liberty cap of the propeller extended over the deck of the steamer, the wood work of the baggage room breaking inward. As the two vessels parted the propeller rounded to and pursued her course, and the Atlantic kept on without losing a stroke of her engine, until her fires were extinguished by the rapidly rising water. Soon after the collision it was attempted to launch one of the small boats of the Atlantic from the starboard side, but the bow was allowed to descend faster than the stern, throwing the weight forward. The bows broke, pitching the men, with which it was crowded, into the lake. Panic prevailed, and many of the passengers and crew jumped overboard without making any preparation. Survivors asserted that there was an entire lack of authority to prevent passengers, especially women, from throwing themselves wildly into the lake. Captain Pettys was injured by a fall into the yawl soon after the collision, and was unable afterwards to render assistance or to take command. The Atlantic continued to float some distance, and when she sank her stern continued to float after the bow had struck bottom, buoyed up by air in the after hold. All who clung to the steamer were saved.
The propeller kept on her course two miles or more, when she rounded to and returned to the steamer. She rescued those who were still upon the wreck, and picked up many who were floating about on wreckage or life-preservers. About 250 were thus rescued by the Ogdensburg and carried into Erie. It was impossible to accurately determine the loss of life. The clerk did not save his trip sheet, but judged there were between 500 and 600 passengers aboard. There were about 150 cabin passengers and some 426 deck passengers, most of whom were emigrants. The early estimates of loss were about 325, but later figures reduced the number to 131.
The Atlantic was built at Newport, Mich., in 1848. She was 267 feet in length, 33 feet beam and measured 1,155 tons. In 1849 she had made the trip from Buffalo to Detroit in 16-1/2 hours, the quickest passage up to that time.
Loss of the Steamer Caspian. - Another serious disaster was the loss of the new steamer Caspian, valued at $90,000, wrecked during a sudden storm while lying at a pier outside of Cleveland harbor. The Caspian was owned by Capt. E. B. Ward.
Loss of the Oneida. – A terrible storm swept over the lakes November 10 and 11, resulting in the complete or partial loss of 55 vessels. The most disastrous wreck was that of the propeller Oneida, which capsized on Lake Erie with the loss of 17 lives.
Other Losses. – Among the other losses during this storm were the following: Schooners Lady Bagot, total loss at Grand river. Schooner Somerset ashore at Cattaraugus creek, and released. Schooner Abigail ashore near Ashtabula. Schooner Marengo on the rocks at Gravelly Point. Schooner Mobile wrecked near Toronto. Schooner Arkansaw ashore and wrecked near Toronto. Steamer Michigan disabled and towed to Cleveland. Schooner Gold Hunter wrecked at Sleeping Bear. Steamer Diamond damaged to the extent of $1,000 at Dunkirk. Schooner New Haven ashore at the "Cut," C. W. Propeller Bacchus beached at the same place. British schooner Albion ashore at Toronto. Schooner G. T. Williams ashore near the mouth of the Detroit river.
Of the 229 disasters that occurred during the season of 1852, seven occurred in April, 19 in May, 24 in June, 15 in July, 16 in August, 21 in September, 27 in October, 85 in November (55 in the gale of the 11th and 12th), and 15 in December. Five steamers, six propellers and 28 sail vessels went out of existence during the season of 1852. The total valuation of losses for 1852 was $992,659, and 296 lives were lost.
Other Events of 1852. – March 13: Several Lake Erie ports clear of ice. April 22: Lake Erie again frozen over. May: Five propellors, two steamers and many vessels frozen in near Buffalo: 10, steamer Northerner collided with the brig Caroline in St. Clair river, resulting in serious damage to the latter: 20, schooner Meridian sunk by collision with a wreck near Malden.
June: Schooner Vermont capsized on Lake Erie off Conneaut. Forest City explodes her boiler, resulting in the loss of three lives. Schooner Anawan capsized on Lake Erie off Painesville. Propellor Montezuma sustains severe injuries and loses her cargo during a storm. Propeller Republic lost much of her cargo during a storm.
July: Severe storm on Lake Michigan: brigs Shakespeare and Lowell damaged. Brig Helfenstein sunk at Chicago.
August: Steamer Swan burned at Toledo: loss estimated at $18,000: 20, steamer Atlantic collides with the propellor Ogdensburg near Long Point, by which the former was sunk: many lives lost.
October 7: Propeller Independence ashore near Ontonagon during a gale. Propellor Vermont burned while lying at the dock at Grand River, Canada. November: Steamer St. Louis wrecked at Kelly's island: bark Rochester sunk at Erie, a total wreck, seven lives lost: schooner M. Douseman sunk at Dunkirk: schooner R. O. Mead goes to pieces on Lake Erie: bark Myers, of Cleveland, lost during a storm: schooner Eagle total loss at Sandusky: 17, schooner Serena ashore: 15, schooner Twin Brothers, of Milwaukee, and schooner Roberts, of Chicago, ashore at Muskegon: 23, propeller Oregon ashore near Put-in-Bay: steamer Sam Ward disabled on Lake Erie and towed to Detroit by the propeller Buffalo: schooner A. Wilcox wrecked on Lake Michigan, three lives lost: brig Robert Burns wrecked near Grand River: schooner Hamlet and brig Pawhattan ashore: schooner Star wrecked on Georgian Bay, six lives lost. At the close of navigation, and during a heavy gale, the propeller Samson, one of the first built above the Falls, was wrecked at Buffalo with a cargo of flour, involving a loss on hull and cargo of $20,000. Other vessels which passed out of existence during the season of 1852, with the loss on hull and cargo, were as follows: Steamer Belle, wrecked in Georgian Bay, loss $15,000: steamer Telegraph No. 2 burned at the head of Lake Erie, $6,000: propeller City of Oswego sunk by steamer America in Lake Erie, $70,000: propeller Ireland burned in St. Lawrence river: propeller Samson wrecked near Buffalo: propeller Oneida capsized in Lake Erie, 19 lives lost: propeller James Wood, wrecked at Ashtabula, loss $19,000: propeller Vermont, burned at Grand River: barque Rochester wrecked near Erie, seven lives: barque Buckeye State wrecked at Milwaukee, loss $14,000: brig Annie Winslow wrecked on Duck island, Lake Michigan: brig E. H. Scott wrecked on Lake Michigan, loss $14,000: brig Breeze wrecked on Lake Ontario: brig John Hancock wrecked at Rondeau: Marion wrecked at Buffalo, four lives. The following named vessels were all schooners: Schooner Clyde wrecked at Toronto, $4,000: Oregon, foundered in Lake Erie, 10 lives lost, $16,000: Buffalo wrecked on Long Point, six lives lost: Tom Benton wrecked near Chicago: Mariner wrecked near same place: Lavinia wrecked near Kenosha, Lake Michigan: Emily wrecked at Grand River, C. W.: A. H. Newbold wrecked on Buffalo pier: Eagle wrecked near Grand River: Severn wrecked near Grand River: Gold Hunter wrecked on Sleeping Bear island, Lake Michigan: H. B. Bishop wrecked in Georgian Bay. Lowland Lass sunk by steamer Superior, in Lake Erie: Green Bay wrecked at Michigan City: R. C. Smead wrecked at Barcelona, Lake Erie: George Watson sunk by propeller Ohio, in Lake Michigan: A. Wilcox wrecked on Lake Michigan, three lives lost: Brewster wrecked at Fairport, seven lives lost: Star wrecked in Georgian Bay, six lives lost: Elizabeth burned at Oakville, Lake Ontario: Gazette sunk off Cleveland, crew saved.
Ground Broken for the Sault Ship Canal. – In this year ground was broken for this canal, which was not opened until two years later, and which was destined to exert a tremendous influence in future years upon lake traffic.
Loss of the Ocean Wave. – One of the most distressing accidents that ever occurred on Lake Ontario happened April 30, near the Ducks, small islands near the Canadian shore, about 40 miles above Kingston. The upper cabin steamer Ocean Wave, built in Montreal in 1851, took fire about one o'clock in the morning, while on her way from Hamilton to Ogdensburg. The boat was newly painted, the flames spread rapidly and the boats could not be got out. Within five minutes the vessel was enveloped in flames. The light attracted the schooners Georgiana and Emblem which, with some fishing boats, saved 21 persons out of a total of 44 who were aboard. Of the lost, 15 were members of the crew and 13 were passengers.
Independence Wrecked by Explosion. – One of the most deplorable disasters during the navigation of 1853 was the explosion of the boilers of the propeller Independence, Captain John McKay, at or near Sault Ste Marie, on the morning of November 22. She left the dock at the head of the portage about midnight with a heavy freight of winter supplies for Ontonagon and La Pointe, and a number of passengers. She had not proceeded over a mile before her boiler burst, literally tearing three-fourths of the boat to atoms, killing four persons – the first engineer, one passenger and two firemen – and badly injuring the second engineer and several passengers. The boat, with the exception of 25 feet of her bow, was blown to atoms. Her engine and boiler, with the exception of a small piece of the latter, was beyond discovery in a search that was made within 100 feet of the wreck, and a large portion of her 2,700-barrel bulk cargo was scattered in every direction, altogether making the escape of 30 lives miraculous.
Tests of Speed. – During the season of 1853 quite an exciting race took place with the steamers Queen of the West, Captain McBride, and the Mississippi, Captain Hazard, between Buffalo and Cleveland. The latter turned the light at Buffalo at 9:20 A. M. and the former at 10:20 A. M., the Mississippi being one hour and fifteen minutes ahead. Both steamers arrived at Cleveland at 9:10 P. M., the Queen of the West being about half a length ahead, having run from Fairport to Cleveland (30 miles) in one hour and ten minutes.
The steamers Empire State and Atlantic had a trial of speed on Lake Erie, the former proving the victor. The steamer Ocean had a tilt with the Empire State also, both claiming the superiority. A trial of speed also took place between the steamers Queen City and Alabama, from Buffalo to Cleveland, the former performing the distance in 12 hours and 10 minutes, and coming in the victor. The distance between the two ports is 151 nautical miles, or 173 statute miles. Placing the Queen City's time at 12 hours gave her a speed of 14 5-12 miles per hour.
Disasters of 1853. - Of 266 disasters during the season of 1853, 19 occurred in April, 30 in May, 17 in June, 11 in July, 28 in August, 30 in September, 39 in October, 80 in November, and 12 in December. Sixty steamers, two propellers and thirty sail vessels passed out of existence. The number of disasters exceeded those of 1852 by 37, while the loss of property was less by $118,516. The great decrease in the loss of life and property by collision and explosion, as shown by comparison, was the result of the first year's operation of the new law relating to vessels propelled by steam, and their improved system of lights. With the one exception, the Ocean Wave on Lake Ontario, no lives were lost on any of the regular passenger steamers by any accident whatever.
Other Events of 1853. - In this year navigation was resumed at Buffalo April 2, the steamer Mayflower being the first to arrive. The Straits of Mackinac were clear April 17, the propeller Forest City being the first to pass through going west. The steamers Wisconsin, Southerner and Albany, which had been plying many years, passed out of existence this year, fortunately without the loss of any lives. Their places were filled by several new boats of much larger tonnage, including the Mississippi, 1,829 tons; Crescent City, 1,740 tons; Queen of the West, 1,852 tons; Northern Indiana, 1,470 tons; and others of larger tonnage. The steamer Albany, owned by Mr. McKnight and commanded by Capt. H.J. Jones, was wrecked near Presque Isle, Lake Huron, and proved a total loss. Over 200 passengers were on board, and safely landed the day following the disaster. The schooner Saltillo, owned by J.R. Huguinn, of Chicago, and laden with the coal and iron, was sunk by running into the schooner Trade Wind, in St. Clair river, and was never recovered. On the morning of October 8 the steamer Ben Franklin, Capt. H.J. Jones, while en route to the Sault, went ashore at Thunder Bay island, Lake Huron, and became a total wreck. She was built at Algonac, Mich., in 1842, and was 231 tons burden. During the same month the steamer A.D. Patchin, commanded by Capt. H. Whitaker, and partly owned by him, struck on Skillagalee and became a total loss. The Patchin was built in Truago, Mich., in 1849, was of 870 tons burden, and one of the stanchest built boats on the lakes. She was propelled by the engine formerly in the steamer Missouri. The steamer Commerce (Canadian) came in collision with the steamer Dispatch, off Grand River, Canada, sinking the former and 38 persons were drowned. The brig Crispin stranded on Point aux Barques, and became a total loss. Fifty feet of the table rock at Niagara Falls became dislodged and plunged into the abyss below. During the latter part of the season the steamer Canada was transferred, and taken to Lake Michigan to ply between Chicago and New Buffalo. The wreck of the steamer Nile was burned at Milwaukee. She was driven ashore in a gale at that point in the fall previous.
May: Steamer Superior and schooner Signal collide near Buffalo. Steamer London sunk near Sault Ste. Marie. On May 5, the Cherokee, an iron vessel, commanded by Captain Gaskin, left Toronto direct for Liverpool, arriving there June 16. Schooner Citizen ashore above Waukegan. Schooner John Grant ashore at New Buffalo. May 25: Schooner Texas ashore near the mouth of the St. Clair river. Schooner Mary Margaret capsized near Grand river; four lived lost.
June: Steamer Admiral burned at Toronto. Brig Iroquois damaged by collision with the steamer Reindeer, near the Kingston lighthouse. July: Steamer Queen of the West burned at Hamilton, Ontario. August: Steamer Wisconsin sunk by collision with the propeller Brunswick near the West Sister lighthouse.
September: Schooner Herald capsized near Chicago. Steamer Fashion damaged by lightning near Racine. Propeller Nile ashore near Chicago, sustaining several injuries.
October: Steamer Queen City sunk in the harbor at Erie; 25, schooner Whip ashore at Cleveland. Schooner G.H. Walker wrecked on Lake Erie, near Madison; total loss; 26, schooner Rocky Mountain ashore near the mouth of the Kalamazoo river.
November: Schooner Susanna burned at Port Dover.
The steamer E.K. Collins burned in the Detroit river, a short distance below Malden, on the night of October 8. Ten passengers and thirteen of the crew perished in the flames or were drowned in the river. The E.K. Collins was a new steamer, owned by the Wards, of Detroit, and had come out the previous autumn at Newport, now Marine City. She was bound from the Sault for Cleveland. The fire originated on the boiler deck, and was supposed to have been caused by the steerage passengers emptying their pipes, filled with burning tobacco in the light wood work of the deck. It spread with great rapidity. The fire engines were in readiness, the hose was quickly screwed on, but the smoke and fire drove every person from the engines. Within two minutes, it was stated, the whole boat was aflame. An attempt was made to launch the lifeboats, but the flames forbade. There was an abundance of life preservers and floats, but in their fright many persons jumped into the river without any support. The vessel was turned toward the shore, and her headway beached her. There she burned to the water's edge. The propeller Fintry, Captain Langley, arrived at a timely moment and saved a number who were struggling in the water. The Collins had 24 passengers aboard, and her crew numbered 43. She cost $103,000.
There were 384 disasters during the navigation of 1854, with a valuation of property lost amounting to $2,187,825.
Gradual Change in Lake Craft. - There were in 1854 few side-wheel steamers on the lakes in comparison with former times, while the class of vessels known as barks and brigs had almost entirely passed out, and were known only in history. Propellers in the meantime had largely increased, and were doing the great bulk of freighting business on the lakes, being better adapted for that service.
Chicago Harbor Dredged. - The Chicago harbor was dredged during the season to 12 feet, deep enough for the safe passage of any sail vessel not more than 800 tons, and any steamer not over 1,500 tons, which placed it in better condition than for the past ten years. At this time Chicago had no lifeboat, but was obliged to depend, in the time of storm, when vessels were grounded on the bar and the lives of the crews in peril, upon such boats as steamers or propellers then in the harbor might be able to send out.
Other Events of 1854 - Navigation commenced at Buffalo April 2, the steamer Buckeye State, Capt. Jacob Imson, being the first to depart, and the straits of Mackinac opened April 25, the brig Globe being the first to pass through, bound west. April 18: Propeller Forest Queen ashore near Thunder Bay; schooner Samuel Strong damaged by lightning on Lake Michigan; 29, propeller Paugassett ashore near Grand River. May 1: The following boats wrecked on Lake Michigan: Olive Richmond, Rocky Mountain, Merchant, Arrow, P. Hayden, Lizzie Throop and Maine. May: Schooner Tom Corwin sunk by collision with the piers at Cleveland; brig Globe damaged by lightning at Chicago; contract for making the "straight cut" at Milwaukee let for $48,000; schooner Buttles sunk in Detroit river; steamer Garden City wrecked on a reef near Mackinac; propeller H.A. Kent burned on Lake Erie; cargo valued at $200,000; steamer Detroit sunk in Saginaw bay by collision with the brig Nucleus. June: Scow Juno sunk at Cleveland. Schooner Australia damaged by lightning near Turtle island.
July 29: Schooner Lapwing goes ashore near St. Joseph; propeller Boston sunk by collision off Oak Orchard.
August: Steamer Alabama sunk near Buffalo. Steamer Lady Elgin sunk at the pier at Manitowoc.
September: Schooner Navigator sunk at Michigan Harbor; schooner E.C. Williams sunk by collision with the Western World at Buffalo; 19, schooner Isabella ashore near Dunkirk; 28, schooner A. Buckingham ashore at Long Point; 23, steamer Lady Elgin and the Baltic ashore at the Flats; steamer Saratoga sold as she lay sunk in the harbor at Port Burwell, Canada, to William H. Scott for $4,000. October 1: Propeller Westmoreland ashore at Windmill Point; propeller Troy damaged by explosion of her boiler near Chicago; steamer Fashion sunk at Kewaunee; 8, steamer E.K. Collins burned at Malden, owned by Capt. E.B. Ward; 10, bark France ashore near Goderich; bark Fame wrecked on Lake Huron; schooner W.W. Brigham sunk in Dunkirk harbor; schooner Ocean burned at Port Dalhousie; schooner Alwilda burned; 22, schooner Virginia Purdy ashore at Milwaukee; schooner Waterwitch ashore at Kincardine; schooner Defiance sunk by collision with brig Audubon near Port aux Barques.
November: Schooner Mary Margaret capsized off Milwaukee; crew rescued by the schooner Magic. Propeller Bucephalus sunk in Saginaw bay; ten lives lost. Schooner Little Belle ashore at Grand River, Canada. British bark Globe ashore at Port Burwell. Schooners Wm. Black and Forwarder ashore at Port Burwell. Schooner Josephine Lawrence sunk in Detroit river. Propeller Saginaw on the rocks at Gilbraltar. The O.Q. Melzar ashore near Shushwaw point. Propeller Edith collides with the schooner Charley Hibbard off Long Point. Brig Northampton ashore total loss at Thunder Bay. Schooners Lizzie Throop, Twin Brothers, Ino and Ellen Stewart ashore near Grand River. Bark Utica sunk at Buffalo. Steamer May Queen collides with the Wm. Buckley on Lake Erie, resulting in sinking the latter. Steamer Mayflower wrecked on a reef near Point Pelee; loss $40,000.
December: Over 50 vessels aground at the St. Clair flats. Schooner Omah, laden with salt, wrecked at Cleveland; three lives lost. Bark Wm. Sturgess ashore at Black River. Propeller Paugassett sunk at Cleveland from injuries sustained while rescuing the crew of the Omah. Schooner Virginia ashore near the Omah. Steamer Fremont frozen in at Sandusky bay. Schooner Ireland, aground near Windmill point, goes to pieces. Schooner Florence wrecked near Kelley's island. Schooner Franklin Pierce wrecked near Duck Pond. Steamer Albion frozen in at the mouth of Clinton river. Schooner Suffolk ashore near Port Burwell. Propeller Westmoreland sunk near Sleeping Bear, Lake Michigan; 17 lives lost. Schooner Western Star wrecked near Goderich, Ontario.
Other Disasters of the Season. - The following steamers and sail vessels passed out of existence in 1854: Steamer America wrecked at Point Pelee, Lake Erie; steamer Garden City wrecked near Detour, Lake Erie; steamer Detroit sunk by bark Nucleus in Saginaw bay; steamer General Harrison wrecked near Chicago.
The schooner K.R. Johnson, laden with wheat, foundered with all hands off Fairport. Captain Snell, who commanded her, was seen in the rigging by his wife on shore, waving his coat, but finally fell off in sight of home and friends, and was drowned. The vessel was owned by Solomon Snell, brother of the captain; the schooner Ontario, with 200 tons of merchandise, was wrecked on Nicholas island, Lake Ontario; steamer Alabama sprung a leak and sunk near Buffalo; steamer E.H. Collins burned at the mouth of Detroit river with loss of 23 lives; steamer Bruce Mines foundered in Lake Huron; steamer Mayflower wrecked on Point Pelee; propeller Princeton sunk by ice off Gravelly Bay, Lake Erie; propeller H.A. Kent burned off Gravelly Bay, Lake Erie; propeller Boston sunk by collision in Lake Ontario; propeller Bucephalus foundered in Saginaw bay, ten lives lost; propeller International burned a the head of the Niagara river; propeller Westmoreland foundered near the Manitous, seventeen lives lost; bark Utica wrecked on Buffalo breakwater; bark Trade Wind sunk by brig Sir C. Napier in Lake Erie; bark Globe (C) wrecked at Point Bruce, Lake Erie; brig O. Richmond wrecked near Chicago; brig Wm. Monteith wrecked at Fairport; brig Audubon sunk by schooner Difiance in Lake Huron; brig Ashland wrecked on Long Point, Lake Erie; brig Burlington wrecked at Port Bruce, Lake Erie; brig Odd Fellow wrecked near Mackinaw; brig Halifax wrecked on Lake Ontario; Adelia foundered in Lake Ontario with loss of five lives. The following named were all schooners: Robert Wood lost off Dunkirk, Lake Erie; Petrel lost on Lake Michigan, with four lives; Duke sunk in Lake Ontario and four lives lost; Hudson sunk off Conneaut, Lake Erie; Navigator wrecked near St. Joseph, Lake Michigan; Roanoke wrecked near Muskegon, Lake Michigan and four lives lost; Nautilus wrecked near Chicago; Sophia wrecked in Georgian Bay; Energy wrecked in Traverse bay; J.B. Wright wrecked on east shore of Lake Michigan; Ocean burned at Port Dalhousie, Lake Ontario; Defiance sunk by brig Audubon in Lake Huron; Cayuga wrecked on Lake Ontario; Western Star wrecked near Goderich, Ont.; Luther Wright wrecked at Gravelly Bay; Norfolk wrecked on Lake Ontario with two lives; Ocean wrecked at Cleveland, four lives lost; Birmingham wrecked near Buffalo; R.R. Johnson wrecked at Fairport, eight lives lost; Conductor wrecked at Long Point; Lewis Cass wrecked at Conneaut; Wing and Wing wrecked at Michigan City; Convoy foundered in Lake Erie and eight lives lost; Florence wrecked at Kelley's island; Mansfield wrecked at Euclid, Lake Erie; Mary Margaret wrecked on Lake Michigan.
Of the 384 disasters in 1854 one occurred in January, 46 in April, 25 in May, 11 in June, 14 in July, 21 in August, 58 in September, 61 in October, 83 in November and 64 in December. Eight steamers, six propellers, three barks, eight brigs and 30 schooners passed out of existence during the season. Owing to the sudden closing up of the season a number of vessels, with cargoes on board, were frozen up outside, sustaining more or less damages, which could not at that time be included in the above amount. The season closed December 10; number of lives lost during the year, 119; amount of loss by jettison, $78,550; loss by collision, $270,000; loss by fire, $264,000; total loss of property by steamboats, $1,143,500; loss of property by sail vessels, $1,046,325.
Sault Canal Completed. - The Sault canal was completed this year, opening up communication with the Lake Superior region. The steamer Illinois, 927 tons, Capt. Jack Wilson, was the first boat to pass through the canal, the passage occurring June 18, 1855. She was followed by the steamer Baltimore, Capt. John Shook, the Sam Ward, Capt. B.G. Sweet, respectively, the same month. The Baltimore continued plying there, changing eventually between Chicago and Lake Superior, until the fall of the same year, when she was wrecked at Sheboygan, on Lake Michigan, freighted with supplies.
The Improvement of St. Clair Flats. - A convention was held early in the season of 1855, at Buffalo, by commercial men and vessel owners, to take measures for the improvement of St. Clair flats, which was attended from all the principal United States lake ports, also from Canada. The plan proposed was to dredge a channel 900 yards long and 100 yards wide, at a probable cost of $36,000; driving 1,000 piles, costing $2,000, making a total outlay of $38,000. This improvement was to be carried out in the south channel which was the main line of St. Clair river, the boundary line between Canada and Michigan, and about nine miles shorter than the northern route. Nothing was accomplished, however, until the improvement was undertaken by the United States Government.
Wreck of the Oregon. - The most lamentable accident of the season occurred at or near Belle Isle, opposite the upper end of Detroit. The propeller Oregon left Detroit early in April for the St. Clair river, carrying in addition to her own crew the crews of the brig U.M. Standart and schooner Flying Cloud, which vessels wintered above.
When near the head of Belle Isle, and close to the Canada shore, her boiler exploded, scattering death and destruction all around. The after part of the propeller was blown completely off, and sank almost immediately. Nine men were killed instantly, and several others were badly wounded. Those who were saved clung to the bow of the boat, and were taken off by small boats. The Oregon was in command of Capt. John Stewart, who at the time of the explosion, was leaning against the pilot house. He was thrown high in the air, and as he came down fell through the deck, breaking one of his legs. The captain of the brig U.M. Standart was also leaning against the pilot house at the time, and was thrown some distance, but escaped with a sprained ankle. In all there was a loss of ten lives. The propeller was owned by G. W. Jones, and was valued at $8,000, with no insurance on her, and being in such a shattered condition nothing of value was saved. The engine was blown completely out of the boat. The Oregon was built at Cleveland in 1846, and was 346 tons burden.
Wrecks at Chicago.—The season for navigation for 1855 was disastrous, the storms raging with unusual fierceness during September and November. Among the casualties of concern at Chicago were the wrecking of the brig Tuscarora and the explosion of the steam tug Seneca. The Tuscarora went to pieces in the storm of September 18, just outside the harbor, but all the crew were saved. The Seneca blew up while passing Randolph street bridge, October 16, 1855. The explosion tore the upper works of the boat to pieces, and killed the captain and engineer. The Seneca was an old boat, having been in use since 1847. During October the schooner Mark H. Sibley and the bark Pathfinder were sunk in the outer harbor.
Shipbuilding Active. — Shipbuilders were by no means idle at this period of lake commerce, there being no less than 170 craft of all classes, launched at various lake ports, stimulated by good freights, which prevailed throughout the season.
The Queen Charlotte burned at Toronto. — On January 22, the steamer Queen Charlotte, formerly the Lady of the Lake, was discovered to be on fire at the Queen’s wharf in Toronto. She was taken out into the bay by two other steamers, in order to save other shipping, and in an hour and a half not a particle of her wood work was to be seen.
Hull of the Erie Raised. — The emigrants aboard the ill-fated steamer Erie, burned in 1841, had a large amount of specie with them, and this fact led to attempts to raise the hull, which was eventually done about 1855. The hull was towed into Buffalo harbor, and large amounts of specie, mostly in form of five-franc pieces, were recovered, paying the operators well for their enterprise.
Other Events of 1855. — April 18: In a great storm on Lake Ontario, the schooner Defiance was lost with all on board, eleven lives; steamer Emerald sunk at the Flats by collision with an anchor. May: Propeller Buckeye State collides with the Belle Sheridan near Long Point; schooner Visitor sunk near West Sister Island; Canadian steamer Huron sunk near Oswego; schooner Hurricane and brig Tuscarora, collide on Lake Huron.
June: Schooner J.W. Blake capsized near Sturgeon Point; schooners C.P. Williams, Australia, and Orient ashore on the west side of Lake Michigan; schooner E.M. Lyon sunk by collision with the propeller Delaware on Lake Erie; propeller Cataract sunk near the Foxes, on Lake Michigan.
July: Schooner Palmetto ashore at White Fish Bay; schooner Dawn sunk off Madison Dock, Lake Erie; afterwards raised and towed to Buffalo: schooner Lewis C. Irwin capsized on Lake Michigan; schooner Clifton struck by lightning near Monroe; schooner Octavia ashore at the mouth of Grand river, Canada; steamer Ottawa sunk near Brookville by collision with the steamer Tibbett; scow Oak capsized off Avon Point; schooner Home ashore at Grand Haven.
August; Schooner Agnes Barton sunk on Lake Erie; schooner Mary Williams capsized near Buffalo; brig Paragon and schooner Robinson collide at Chicago; steamer Baltimore aground on the rocks in the Nevish channel; schooner Pacific sunk near the mouth of Chippewa creek; scow Elmina sunk at Erie; bark L.M. Hubly capsized on Lake Michigan; ten lives lost. September: Schooner Augustus Handy damaged by lightning near Port Huron; steamer Sebastopol lost on Lake Michigan during a storm and seven lives lost; schooner Young America sunk by collision with the schooner Black Hawk, near Racine.
October: Schooner Ivanhoe wrecked on Lake Erie, by collision; propeller Allegheny ashore near Milwaukee, during a gale; brig Racine capsized and lost near Milwaukee; crew rescued by the brig Hutchinson; schooner Antares severely damaged during a storm off Cleveland, steamer Minnesota sustains injuries from collision with the piers at Cleveland; scow Leo capsized on Lake Erie; propeller Charter Oak lost near Erie; ten lives lost; schooner Jacob Stranoch capsized at Milwaukee; schooner H. Wheaton sunk at Long Point; schooner Sam Strong ashore at Pere Marquette; Schooner Kitty Grant capsized on Lake Michigan; four lives lost; schooner Steinhart capsized on Lake Michigan; the Liverpool totally wrecked at Grand Haven; at the same place the schooner Falcon, William Tell, Francis, Lady Jane, and Two Charlies are ashore; brig Sebastopol and schooners Spencer and North Cape are ashore, and the Speed sunk at Muskegon.
November: Brig Hessian ashore at Mackinaw; schooner Pride sunk at Sandusky; schooner Emblem sunk at Long Point; propeller Delaware completely wrecked near Sheboygan; the Omar Pacha, Rocky Mountain and Queen of the Lakes ashore near the same place; schooner Mary Jane sunk at Toronto; schooner Pearl totally wrecked at East Sister reef; schooner Conquest ashore near Rondeau; schooner Herald sunk in Oswego harbor; schooner J.M. Hughes ashore at Point Water; schooner Traveler sunk at Port Burwell; schooner Crescent City ashore at North Fox; schooner Arkansas ashore at Sheboygan; schooner Mary Watson ashore at Gravelly Bay; schooner Hope ashore at Beaver island.
Other Vessels Passed Out of Existence in 1855. — The following craft also passed out of existence during the season of 1855: Steamer Baltimore wrecked at Sheboygan; steamer Queen City burned at Toronto dock; steamer Porcupine burned at Prescott, Lake Ontario; steamer Sebastapol lost at Milwaukee, seven lives lost; propeller Oregon exploded above Detroit; ten lives lost; propeller Rossiter wrecked on Lake Michigan; propeller Charter Oak foundered in Lake Erie, ten lives lost; propeller Delaware wrecked at Sheboygan, 11 lives lost; propeller Fintry exploded and sunk in Lake Erie, and eight lives lost; bark L.M. Hulby lost on Lake Michigan, eleven lives lost; bark North Star wrecked on Long Point; bark Pathfinder lost near Chicago; bark Black Maria wrecked near Chicago; bark Halliwell wrecked at Long Point cut; brig Josephine wrecked at Port Burwell; brig Allegheny sunk by brig Young America in Lake Erie; brig Tuscarora wrecked at Chicago; brig Baltic, wrecked at Port Stanley; brig Julia Dean wrecked on Skillagalee; brig H. Wheaton wrecked at Long Point cut; brig John Irwin wrecked at Two Rivers, Lake Michigan; brig Virginia lost off Long Point, Lake Erie. The following named were all schooners: Sylph lost near Oswego; Saratoga lost near Chicago; Defiance foundered in Lake Ontario, ten lives lost; Visitor sunk near West Sister, one life lost; Cygnet sunk by steamer Western World on Lake Erie, and one life lost; E.M. Lyons sunk by propeller Delaware in Lake Erie; Mansfield sunk by schooner Telegraph in Lake Michigan; Napoleon sunk off Erie; Julia burned; Asia sunk by propeller Forest City in Lake Michigan; Sparrow wrecked near Buffalo; Britain lost on Long Point; Ivanhoe sunk by schooner Arab in Lake Erie; Wiman lost at Point aux Barques; G. W. Weeks lost at Pere Marquette, Lake Michigan; H. David sunk in Lake Ontario; St Clair sunk off Point aux Barques; Dean Richmond wrecked near Racine; Sam Strong wrecked at Pere Marquette; Liverpool lost at Grand Haven; Koefer wrecked at Erie; Reindeer lost near Chicago; Belle sunk off Sodus, Lake Ontario; Pearl wrecked on East Sister; Lodi lost at Grand Haven; Hope lost at Beaver island; James Hughes wrecked near Muskegon; Crescent wrecked on North Fox island; DeWitt Clinton lost near Kalamazoo; J.B. Skinner lost on east shore of Lake Michigan; Vermont lost at Grand Haven; Rockwell wrecked near Muskegon; Steinhart foundered in Lake Michigan; Knickerbocker lost on Lake Michigan, and one life lost.
Total loss of property during the season of 1855, $2,797,830. Number of lives lost, 118. Steamers 4, propellers 6, barks 5, brigs 8, schooners 31. The machinery and other parts of the steamer Mayflower, which was wrecked at Point Pelee in the fall of 1854, were recovered by the steamer Huron during the season of 1855, which came near being also wrecked while engaged in the undertaking.
Voyage of the Dean Richmond. – The season of 1856 witnessed the first departure of a sail vessel from the upper lakes for an ocean voyage to Liverpool. The pioneer was the schooner Dean Richmond, with a cargo of wheat taken on at Milwaukee in July, and commanded by Capt. D. C. Pierce. She had a prosperous voyage over, demonstrating that lake vessels were adapted for sea voyages. Other vessels had superseded the Richmond in making sea voyages from Lake Ontario, the first of these being the brigantine Pacific, from Toronto, in 1844, with a cargo of wheat and flour for Liverpool, commanded by Capt. George Todd. From that period up to the time of the Richmond's departure, in 1856, there were nine departures for salt-water voyages, all bound for Liverpool, save the revenue cutter Dallas to New York, in 1847, and the bark Eureka from Cleveland bound for San Francisco, in 1849. The others sailing during this interval for Liverpool were the schooner Lillie, Captain Hunter, from Kingston, in 1848; the schooner Sophia, Captain Gaskin, from Kingston, in 1850: schooner Cherokee, 400 tons, Captain Gaskin, from Toronto, in 1853: bark Arabia, 450 tons, Capt. John Calder, from Kingston, in 1854; schooner Cataraqui, 550 tons, Capt. Robert Gaskin, from Kingston, in 1854; schooner Eliza Mary, 850 tons, Capt. R. Gaskin, from Kingston, in 1854; bark Reindeer, from Toronto, in 1855. The propeller Ontario went to California from Buffalo in 1850.
Lake Superior Line. – The line of steamers which were put upon the route to Lake Superior in 1856 through the Sault canal, then in the second year of its opening, were as follows: Steamer Illinois, 926 tons, Capt. John Wilson; steamer North Star, 1,106 tons, Capt. B. G. Sweet; steamer Planet, 1,154 tons, Capt. Joseph Nicholson; propeller Manhattan, 320 tons, Capt. John Spaulding; propeller Mineral Rock, 560 tons, Capt. John Frazer; propeller General Taylor, 462 tons, Capt. Redmond S. Ryder; propeller B. L. Webb, 862 tons, Capt. C. K. Dixon. The Webb had been rebuilt, and did not come out until late in the fall, and on her first trip was burned in Waiska bay, with the loss of one life, and the boat a total loss.
Burned Under Full Steam. – The passenger steamer Northern Indiana burned to the water's edge Thursday morning, July 17, off Point Pelee, Lake Erie, while on her passage from Buffalo to Toledo. The passengers and crew numbered about 150, and of these 15 were lost. The water was smooth, and only a light wind was blowing. Captain Pheatt had been detained by sickness at Buffalo, and the first mate, named Wetmore, was in command. The officers were taking tickets when the alarm of fire was given. The steamer Mississippi was about five miles astern, the propeller Republic at a greater distance, and a schooner near by. The mate rang the bell to stop the engine, but the engine room was apparently deserted, for no attention was paid to the signal, and the machinery remained in motion, carrying the burning boat rapidly away from the schooner, and driving the flames aft. Life preservers, consisting of pieces of plank, with two ropes attached to each, were hastily taken from the hurricane deck till the flames drove back the men. The forward deck was then cut to pieces with axes and the fragments thrown overboard, and about one-half the passengers at intervals jumped into the water and clung to the floats. When the engines of the Northern Indiana finally stopped, the Mississippi and the Republic came up and rescued the survivors.
Lost With Nearly Fifty Souls. – The propeller Toledo went down at night during a storm, October 22, about a half mile off Port Washington. She had come to anchor, and the captain was trying to get up her anchors and beach her as a last resort, but the chains got foul, the seams opened and the propeller soon settled to the bottom. Three deck hands were saved: the remainder of the crew and the passengers, between 40 and 50 souls in all, were lost. The Toledo was a first-class propeller of the American Transportation line, and was in command of Captain Densham. She was bound up with a full cargo of merchandise for Milwaukee.
Many Lives Lost on Lake Superior. – The steamer Superior was lost near Grand Island, Lake Superior, October 29, 1856, during a violent storm. Her rudder was carried away and the boat fell into the trough of the sea. She commenced making, the fires were put out and she struck the rocks, soon after going to pieces. Thirty-five lives, including 11 passengers, were lost, and 16, including five passengers, were saved. Capt. Hiram J. Jones was among the lost. The Superior was considered one of the best sea boats in the trade, and had lived through many a storm. She left Chicago October 25, loaded principally with supplies for miners.
Other Disasters of 1856. – The propeller J. W. Brook foundered in Lake Ontario in a heavy gale, and all on board lost, 22 lives. The loss on cargo and hull in this instance was $90,000. The bark J. V. Ayer, laden with wheat, foundered in Lake Michigan, and ten lives found watery graves. She was commanded by Capt. Thos. McClelland. The schooner Mary Maria was wrecked on Presque Isle, Lake Ontario, and seven lives lost. The schooner Iowa foundered in Lake Michigan with nine lives lost: loss on hull and cargo $33,000. Steamer Niagara burned off Port Washington, Lake Michigan, and 60 lives lost: $70,000. Propeller Tinto burned on Lake Ontario, and 18 lives lost, $31,000. Steamer Northerner sunk by steamer Forest Queen in Lake Huron with 12 lives; $23,000.
Other Events of 1856. – In this year one boat was running direct through from Montreal to Chicago, a freight steamer, owned by Jones & Co., and stopping at many intermediate points. The number of craft owned by Canadians in 1856 was 47 steamers, 17 propellers, and 171 schooners, aggregating a total of 42,000 tons and a valuation of $3,500,000. On Lake Ontario during the season of 1856 there were six steamers plying on the America side controlled by the Ontario & St. Lawrence Steamboat Co., of which E. B. Allen, of Ogdensburg, was president, and Capt. James Van Cleve, secretary and treasurer at Lewiston. The steamers made daily trips, calling on the downward passage at Charlotte, Oswego, Sacket's Harbor, Kingston, thence to Ogdensburg, and returning by the way of Cape Vincent, Toronto, thence to Lewiston. On May 9, the boiler of the propeller Inkerman exploded as that vessel was backing away from Upton & Browne's wharf, Toronto, her entire crew being either instantly killed or badly wounded. The only passenger on board, Miss Eliza McGill, was dreadfully injured. The boat was a complete wreck, and most of the cargo was lost. March 26: Navigation opened on Lake Michigan by the steamer Huron, which left Chicago for Milwaukee.
April 11: Schooner Sea Witch leaves Cleveland for Huron, the first clearance of the season at that port; 18, schooner Pride capsized near Venice. Steamer Northerner sunk in Lake Huron by collision with the steamer Forest Queen, twelve lives lost.
June: Schooner Fulton collides with the schooner Lookout off Bar Point.
July: Brig Cuyahoga capsized off Point Pelee; five lives lost.
October: Schooner Kenosha wrecked at Chicago. Schooner Dean Richmond sold in Liverpool, England, for $27,000. Steamer Hudson sunk near Cedar Point. Schooner Tempest sunk at Cleveland. Schooner Royal Oak sunk at Port Stanley. Schooner Etna abandoned at Point Albino. Schooner Wyandotte wrecked at Buffalo. Canadian steamer New Era sunk in St. Lawrence river. The Mary wrecked on Lake Erie. Propeller M. P. Spaulding burned in Buffalo. Propeller Nicol sunk near Montreal.
November: Bark American Republic wrecked at Buffalo. Schooner Ellen Gillmore lost on Lake Erie. Schooner Forest Queen sunk in Genesee harbor. Schooner Industry total loss at Port Colborne. Schooners Hamlet and McKay sunk at Chicago. Scow Brant sunk at Sandusky bay; raised and towed into port. Schooner Belmont lost near North Manistee. The City of Hamilton sunk near Hamilton. Propeller Northern Michigan sunk near Genesee river; raised. Steamer Mazeppa a total loss at Saugeen. Schooner Ellen sunk in Thunder bay. Steamer Superior lost on Lake Superior during a storm. Propeller B. S. Webb burned on Lake Superior. Bark Norman lost near Simcoe. Schooner Cherokee lost on Lake Michigan; ten lives lost. Propeller Manhattan sunk by collision in Cleveland. Steamer Golden Gate goes to pieces near Erie; one life lost.
December: Schooner Storm King and brig Algomah sunk at Milwaukee. Schooner Chas. Howard wrecked at Chicago. Scow Falcon sunk off Kelly's island. Steamer Lord Elgin totally wrecked off Long Point. Schooner Crevola sunk at Milwaukee. Schooner Odd Fellow sunk at Toronto. Schooner Cordelia sunk near Ashbridge's bay. Schooner Belvidere capsized and crew lost.
Other complete losses of the season were as follows: Steamer British Empire sunk by steamer Fashion in the St. Lawrence; steamer Monarch wrecked near Toronto; steamer Brunswick sunk in Lake Michigan and one life lost; steamer Welland burned at Port Dalhousie, Lake Ontario ($50,000); steamer Brothers wrecked on Thames river; steamer Fashion lost at Bayfield, Lake Huron; propeller Paugassett burned at Dunkirk; propeller Protection sunk by steamer Boston in the St. Lawrence; propeller Falcon burned at Chicago; propeller Sandusky wrecked at Conneaut; propeller M. B. Spalding burned at Buffalo; propeller Louisville burned in the St. Lawrence river ($30,000); propeller St. Joseph wrecked near Fairport ($46,000); propeller Lord Elgin lost on Lake Ontario; brig Oxford sunk by propeller Cataract in Lake Erie, and five lives lost; brig Sandusky lost in the Straits, and seven lives lost; brig Seneca wrecked at Kalamazoo; brig A. R. Cobb wrecked near Chicago; brig Nebraska sunk by propeller Oriental in Lake Michigan; brig F. C. Clark wrecked at Manitowoc; brig Arabian wrecked on Lake Huron; brig Cumberland wrecked on Lake Huron at Bayfield.
The following named were all schooners: Wm. Penn wrecked at Point Pelee; Marengo sunk off Middle Sister, Lake Erie; Kate Hayes lost on Spectacle reef, Lake Huron; Signal wrecked at Oswego; Maid of the West lost on Lake Michigan; J. E. Shaw lost in the straits; Ohio lost off Dunkirk with one life lost; Colonel Camp sunk by propeller Plymouth in Lake Michigan; Caledonia lost on Lake Michigan with six lives; Defiance sunk by brig W. Treat in Lake Michigan; J. W. Ross wrecked at Buffalo; War Eagle wrecked at Ashtabula; Maria Hilliard wrecked at Death's Door, Lake Michigan; Europe wrecked at Chicago; General Taylor wrecked near Chicago; Bohemia wrecked at Port Washington, Lake Michigan; Magnolia lost on Gull island, Lake Michigan; St. Anthony wrecked at Goderich; Canadian foundered in Lake Erie and 11 lives lost; J. G. King wrecked at Kalamazoo; Trenton lost on Lake Michigan; Egyptian lost at Point Pelee; George M. Chapman wrecked at Oswego; Perry lost on Lake Ontario; Industry wrecked near Port Colborne; A. J. Brown wrecked at Presque Isle, Lake Ontario, with two lives lost; Orion lost at Point aux Barques; Kansas foundered in Lake Michigan with 11 lives lost; Cherokee foundered in Lake Michigan and ten lives lost; Montgomery wrecked on Lake Ontario; Robert Bruce lost at Port Burwell; Thomas Bradley lost near St. Joe; Allegan wrecked on Lake Ontario; J. T. Williams lost on Lake Ontario.
Losses on hull and cargo during the season of 1856, $3,126,744; lives lost 407; number of disasters 597.
The Financial Panic of 1857.--A panic struck the lake region in 1857 and commercial interests suffered greatly. Vessels in large numbers were laid up at the various ports, freight was down to the lowest margin, owners were despondent, and everything short of first or second class was without a calling. Two or three vessels had started out on European voyages, and were reported to have made fair returns. This was sufficient inducement for others to venture the experiment. Some reached the European coast of the Atlantic, and remained there for a time coasting, having become satisfied that there was no encouragement to return and repeat the venture; and thus the season of 1857 continued until its close.
Departures for Europe. - The bark C. J. Kershaw, Capt. D. C. Pierce, took a cargo of staves at Detroit and departed for Liverpool. The schooner Madeira Pet, which came over from Europe, also loaded with staves at Detroit and left August 10.
Three Heavy Storms. - There were three heavy gales during the season of 1857 entailing heavy losses. The first occurred April 11 from the northeast, causing much damage, especially on Lake Michigan, no less than five vessels being wrecked at Milwaukee. The next storm arose on May 3, from northwest, destroying much property on the lakes. The third and last storm set in October 7, continuing three days, which were the most memorable days, known for many years, with losses aggregating $100,000, and many lives.
The rates for towing through the Welland canal varied from $12 to $30 according to the capacity of the vessel.
Many Steamers Dismantled. - The three mammoth steamers Western World, Plymouth Rock and Mississippi, which for three seasons plied between Detroit and Buffalo, were not commissioned this season, but were laid by at Detroit until the latter part of the year, when they were towed to Buffalo, their engines removed, and then taken to New York City. The Western World's engine was placed in a new steamship named the Fire Queen, and the Mississippi's engine in the steamship Guiding Star. The large steamers City of Buffalo, Crescent City, Queen of the West, Southern Michigan and St. Lawrence, which plied along the south shore of Lake Michigan, were also discontinued and thrown out of service. The City of Buffalo's engine was placed in the steamship Moro Castle at New York, the Queen of the West's in the steamship Evening Star, the St. Lawrence engine in the steamship Fokkian, and the Southern Michigan's was shipped to the North river. All of the above steamers were comparatively new, and consequently short lived. The through railroad lines were the cause of their removal, and it may be doubted if they ever made enough to pay for their original cost.
Holocaust Aboard the Steamer Montreal. - The most deplorable disaster of the season was the destruction of the steamer Montreal by fire on the St. Lawrence river and the loss of 264 lives. She was valued at $41,000, and was comparatively a new boat.
Many Other Steamers Burned. - In September the propeller Louisville, of 366 tons, with a valuable cargo, took fire on Lake Michigan, near Chicago, and was totally destroyed, fortunately without the loss of a life. She had been in service five years, and plied the upper and lower lakes.
In the month of October the propeller Sandusky was burned at Sandusky, and proved a total loss. She was of 460 tons burden, and was nine years old. The steamer J. C. Morrison burned on Lake Simcoe. The steamer Free Trader was burned at Port Stanley with a loss of $23,000.
Railway Disaster at the Desjardin Canal, Canada. - It would be foreign to the scope of this work to more than refer to this sad event, as the railways of the Province are only indirectly connected with its marine; but it may be mentioned that two prominent owners of lake vessels perished, and another well-known owner narrowly escaped with his life. Those who were killed were Samuel Zimmerman, after whom one of the best known steamers on the lakes was called (since burned); the second being Captain Sutherland, well-known as captain and owner of lake vessels. Another victim was Edward Duffield, who had been for some time an officer on board the Europa. The late Thomas C. Street was the prominent ship owner who though injured, was happily preserved.
Other Events of 1857. - The total loss on hull and cargo in 1857 was $1,387,935; lives lost, 490; tonnage, 15,439 tons; number of disasters, 481. Six revenue cutters were built during the season of 1857. The ship City of Toronto sailed for Liverpool from Toronto with staves, and the bark Reindeer for the same destination during August with a like cargo. In November the propeller City of Superior, of 700 tons burden, which came out new and was commanded by Capt. John Spaulding, was wrecked at Eagle Harbor, Lake Superior, after three months' service. The loss amounted to $47,000, and not a vestige was saved. The number and valuation of steamboat engines lost on the lakes up to 1857 was estimated at $8,000,000. None were recovered. There were several breaks in the Erie canal, which delayed traffic from eight to ten days. February 17: Navigation opened at Cleveland.
March 27: Steamer Huron sunk at Chicago by collision with the submerged wreck of the schooner McKay.
April 27: the season opened at Buffalo, the propeller Comet being the first boat to leave. The Straits of Mackinac were open May 1, the steamer Lady Elgin being the first through, going west.
May 4: Bark Empire wrecked at Marblehead Point; eleven lives lost. May 2: Schooner Pilot sunk at Chicago. May 19: Schooner Cataract sunk by collision on Lake Erie. Schooner Tom Dyer sunk at Port Colborne.
On July 4, an excursion was made from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, on the occasion of the practical completion of the hydraulic canal, in the Cygnet, the first steam vessel that ever landed within the corporate limits of the village of Niagara Falls, above the cataract. August 19: Scow Duncan Stewart capsized near Point Avon; crew saved by the schooner Ariel.
September: Steamer Belle burned at Perrysburg, damaging her to the extent of $1,000. Government schooner Lamplighter driven on the rocks at Isle Royal, and totally wrecked.
November: Schooner D. Newhall sunk at Buffalo. Schooner Malakoff sunk near Goderich, Ont. Brig Constellation ashore and total loss at Waukegan. Schooner Kossuth sunk near Chicago. Schooner C. C. Trowbridge sunk off Bar Point by collision with the schooner Fortune. Schooner C.J. Roeder frozen in the ice near Turtle island. Schooner Scott frozen near Toledo.
December 9: Propeller Napoleon a total wreck at Saugeen.
Other vessels which passed out of existence in 1857 were as follows: Steamer Louisiana wrecked at Port Burwell. Propeller Inkerman exploded at Toledo and three lives lost. Propeller Oliver Cromwell sunk by the schooner Jessie in the Straits; was raised fifteen years afterward. Propeller Napoleon lost at Saugeen, Lake Huron. Propeller St. Nicolas wrecked at Sleeping Bear, Lake Michigan. Bark Empire wrecked at Marble Head with eleven lives lost. Bark Peerless wrecked at Dunkirk. Bark Oliver See wrecked in Straits of Mackinac. Bark Great West lost at Sleeping Bear. Brig David Stuart wrecked near Chicago with loss of seven lives. Brig Iceberg foundered with all hands in Lake Ontario; seven lives lost. Brig J.R. Giddings lost on Lake Michigan. Brig Jas. McBride lost near Sleeping Bear. Brig H.G. Stambach wrecked at North Manitou. Brig Constellation lost on Lake Michigan.
The following named were all schooners: Wide Awake wrecked near Oswego. Bell Atkins lost near same place. George Hanson lost on Lake Michigan with four lives. Emily foundered in Lake Michigan with loss of five lives. Temperance wrecked at Racine. Cataract sunk by propeller Kentucky in Lake Erie. Northern Star sunk by propeller Ontonagon in Lake Huron. Elizabeth sunk in Lake Ontario. Sarah A. Green wrecked at Dunkirk. Everett wrecked at Port Burwell. Dahlia wrecked on Hat island, Lake Erie. Isaac Buchanan burned at Port Stanley. Leander lost in Mackinac straits. Flying Cloud wrecked near Chicago and seven lives lost. Antelope lost near St. Joseph with five lives. Europa lost on Lake Ontario. Lark lost on Lake Michigan. Radiant foundered in Lake Michigan. Radiant foundered in Lake Erie and ten lives lost. Mars lost near Port Washington, five lives lost. Welland lost in Lake Michigan with eight lives. Oriental wrecked on Lake Ontario. Kossuth wrecked near Chicago. Forest lost near Goderich, Lake Huron. Brilliant lost near Sheboygan.
Few Vessels Built. - Owing to the pressure of the times but few vessels were built on the lakes in 1858, and these mostly of the smaller class. On Lake Ontario there were commissioned four side-wheel steamers, one bark and 13 sail vessels. On the upper lakes one side-wheel boat, eight propellers, one bark and 25 sail craft.
Vessels Left for Ocean Voyagers. - During the navigation of 1858 there were 15 vessels which left the lakes on voyages on the Atlantic, chiefly bound for ports in England: Schooner Queen, 375 tons burden, loaded at Toronto with staves for Liverpool, but did not return. Bark Chieftan, 375 tons, Capt. Benjamin Wolvine, loaded at Detroit with a like cargo for same destination. Bark H.E. Howe, Captain Day, oak lumber at Detroit for London, England. She was sold at that port in 1860 for $7,500. Brig Black Hawk, 384 tons, Captain Alexander, lumber at Detroit for Liverpool. She returned to the lakes and was lost at Point Betsey, Lake Michigan, in 1862, with a cargo of 19,000 bushels of corn. Schooner Colonel Cook, 327 tons, Captain Humphrey, lumber and staves at Detroit for Liverpool. On arriving in the Gulf of St. Lawrence she was wrecked, and became a total loss with her cargo. She was owned by George W. Bissell at Detroit. Schooner O.B. Sexton, 345 tons, Capt. Thos. A. Burke, staves, at Detroit for London, England. The Sexton was wrecked in the Straits of Gibraltar in 1862. Schooner Correspondent, 294 tons, Capt. J. Morris, wheat, Detroit for Liverpool. Schooner C. Reeve, 299 tons, Capt. G.M. Hall, staves at Detroit for Liverpool. The Reeve with a cargo of 13,500 bushels of corn, sunk off Oak Orchard, Lake Ontario, in 1862 while in command of Capt. Thos. Donahue. Schooner Harvest, 309 tons, Capt. Harvey Rummage, staves at Detroit for London, England. Bark E.S. Adams, 407 tons, Captain Nelson, sailed from Lake Ontario with lumber for Liverpool. Bark D.C. Pierce, 396 tons, Capt. Thomas Kidd, staves from Detroit, same destination. Schoooner R.H. Harmon, 343 tons, Captain Huntoon, staves at Detroit same destination. Schooner J.F. Warner, 341 tons, Capt. A.R. Manning, staves at Detroit for Greenock. Bark Parmelia J. Flood, 383 tons, Captain Anderson, from Green Bay with lumber for the West Indies.
Statistics. - In the spring of 1858 there were in commission, on all the lakes, 130 side-wheel steamers with a total tonnage of 72,108 tons, and a valuation of $3,953,800; 182 propellers, 65,271 tons, valuation $3,537,900; 57 barks, 22,817 tons, valuation $707,500; 99 brigs, 27,121 tons, valuation $628,900; 974 schooner and sloops, 200 - 300 tons, valuation $6,383,900; total number of craft, 1,442, tons 387,740, valuation $15,212,000.
Other Events of 1858. - Navigation commenced at Buffalo April 15, and Mackinac straits were clear April 3. The schooner Fred Hill was the first to pass through, bound west.
April 5: Propeller Forest City burned at Port Stanley; 7, brig John G. Deshler sunk at Cleveland; 10, scow Wave capsized off Cedar Point during a storm; 12, steamer Europa sunk at Toronto.
May: Bark Lemuel Crawford wrecked at East Sister island. Schooner Arcadian wrecked by collision with schooner Lucy J. Latham, off Big Sodus. Scow-schooner Traveler wrecked at Point Pelee. Schooner Rainbow damaged by lightning in St. Clair river. Propeller Montgomery struck by lightning on Lake Michigan.
June: Steamer Fremont burned at Sandusky. Propeller Indiana sunk near White Fish Point. Schooner William Foster capsized on Lake Michigan. Steamer Lady Elgin wrecked on Lake Superior; insured for $32,000; released from rocks July 4.
July: Propeller North America destroyed by fire at the Flats. Scow George Neville water-logged and disabled on Lake Erie. Scow Liberator capsized on Lake St. Clair. Schooner Andromeda sunk on Lake Michigan, near Manitowoc. Schooner Ellen Pike capsized near St. Joseph, Lake Michigan.
August 3: Canadian bark E.H. Rae capsized on Lake Ontario; Canadian schooner Premier sunk at mouth of Evans Ship canal; schooner Blue Belle capsized near Chicago; schooner Fame capsized near the head of the St. Clair river; Canadian schooner Hamilton sunk on Lake Ontario, total loss; propeller Stockman disabled and towed to Buffalo; bark Ontario water-logged off Long Point; scow Nimrod sunk near Port Stanley; the New Brunswick sunk near Point Pelee and five lives lost; steamer Telegraph sunk on Lake Erie by the schooner Marquette, valued at $7,000. The Telegraph was a passenger boat plying between Cleveland and Port Stanley, and was on her return home to Port Stanley when run down. She had been built at Detroit, and was owned and commanded by Capt. Richard Barrows.
September: Schooner Col. Cook wrecked near the mouth of the St. Lawrence; total loss.
October: Schooner Coquette sunk at Put-in-Bay; propeller Garden City ashore at Little Point Sable; released October 17 and sunk in 20 fathoms of water.
November: Tug Petrel wrecked by explosion of her boilers; tug Hamilton Morton sunk in the Detroit river after being severely damaged by fire; propeller Prairie State collides with the schooner Invincible in St. Clair river.
The following craft also passed out of existence: Steamer Trenton burned at Picton, Lake Ontario; tug Kossuth wrecked at Grand Haven; tug Hercules exploded on the St. Lawrence and seven lives lost; bark Canada, formerly a passenger steamer plying between Buffalo and Detroit, lost near Chicago; brig Shakespeare wrecked on Pilot island, Lake Michigan; brig Ontario lost in Green bay.
The following named were all schooners: Emily C. wrecked in Georgian Bay; Watchman wrecked near Dunkirk; Calvin Snell sunk in Lake Ontario; Arkansas wrecked at Kenosha; Com. Chauncey lost on Point Albino; Lavinia wrecked at Port Washington; Caledonia wrecked on Lake Michigan; Osprey wrecked at Oswego with three lives lost; Java lost at Dunkirk; Albion foundered in Lake Erie and eight lives lost; Mary Watson wrecked at Goderich; Wave lost at Inverhuron, Lake Huron, two lives lost; Minerva Cook sunk by bark Clayton in Lake Ontario; Zenobia lost at Point Betsey; Roman foundered in Lake Erie and nine lives lost; Harwich wrecked at False Presque Isle, Lake Huron, and seven lives lost; London lost at Sodus, Lake Ontario; Home sunk by schooner Wm. Fisk in Lake Michigan; John Oades wrecked at Muskegon; Rockaway lost near Goderich; City of Toronto wrecked near Oswego; Hope (Canadian) lost on Hope Island, Georgian Bay; J.A. Hope wrecked at Port Burwell; Farmer lost near St. Joseph, Lake Michigan.
The following names vessels were all scows: Ida and Mary foundered in Lake Ontario and two lives lost; Pilot foundered near Chicago with two lives lost; Globe lost on Lake Michigan with seven lives lost; Maine, wrecked at Point aux Barques; total number of disasters 362; lives lost 122, amount of losses, hull and sail, $732,232.
Trade Still Backward. - The backward state of lake business in 1859 limited the construction of vessels, and consequently but few were commissioned.
Large Ice Trade in April. - During the month of April, owing to a failure of the ice crop at various lower ports, notably Cleveland and Detroit, quite a number of sail craft embarked in the trade to points on Lake Huron. The propeller Mineral Rock brought 400 tons of ice from Frying Pan island. This traffic was kept up until the middle of May.
Passages of Vessels at Detroit. - Bound up; Steamers, 194, propellers 492, barks 273, brigs 293, schooners 1,811 - total 3,065; downward passages: steamers 195, propellers 503, barks 284, brigs 314, schooners 1,825 - total 3,121; grand total both ways 6,186. Greatest number passing up in one day 85, down 73.
Opening of Navigation. - Scow California leaves Cleveland for Black River February 2. Lake business commenced at Detroit, March 10, the steamer Island Queen, Captain Orr, arriving at that port; at Port Colborne, April 1, and Buffalo April 7, the propeller Equinox the first to depart. The Straits of Mackinac were clear April 4, the propeller Prairie State being the first craft through bound west. The first boat through the Sault canal was the steamer Lady Elgin, Capt. Jack Wilson, May 3.
Other Events of 1859. - March: Canadian schooner Linnie Powell wrecked near Buffalo; Captain McManus, who was in command, drowned; propeller Lady of the Lake wrecked on Lake Erie, by the explosion of her boiler; two lives lost.
April: Schooner Fulton sunk near Mackinaw with a cargo valued at $22,000; brig Manchester totally wrecked at Madison, Ohio. May: Schooner Euphemia wrecked off Black Lake, Lake Michigan; six lives lost.
June: Schooner General Houston totally wrecked at Fairport, Ohio. July: Bark B.A. Standart capsized near Rondeau; bark Sunshine capsized off Fairport, Lake Erie; several lives lost; schooner T.G. Colt capsized on Lake Erie.
September: Propeller Manhattan wrecked near Grand Sauble; schooner Ethan Allen driven on the rocks at Copper Harbor; brig Buffalo a total loss at Grand Haven.
October: Propeller Troy foundered off Point aux Barques, 23 lives lost; Canadian schooner Burton sunk at Buffalo; schooner Dawn sunk by collision with propeller New York near Port Stanley; five lives lost; Canadian schooner Harriet Ann lost near Nine Mile Point; propeller Oriental ashore near Skillagalee; a total wreck; brig Roscius sunk at the Flats; schooner Sarias Burchard sunk at Bay City; schooner Valeria arrives at Cleveland from Liverpool.
November: Tug Experiment sunk at the Flats; schooner Cleopatra sunk by collision with the schooner Adriatic off Port Maitland; schooner Dispatch sunk in Welland canal; schooner Bay City abandoned at East Sister reef; propeller Milwaukee and schooner J.H. Tiffany sunk by collision in the Straits of Mackinac; five lives lost; brig N. M. Standart sunk by collision with the propeller Racine at the North Manitou.
December: Schooner Australia a total loss at Port Colborne; scow Brant sunk on Lake Huron.
The following craft passed out in 1859: Steamer Asa R. Swift exploded on St. Clair river. Minor lost at Ontonagon, Lake Superior. Propeller Ohio exploded and sunk off Erie and two lives lost. Brig Portland wrecked at Grand Haven. Columbia lost in Green Bay. Buffalo wrecked at Grand Haven. Greyhound lost near Sheboygan and one life lost. Cumberland wrecked at Milwaukee. Missouri wrecked at Kalamazoo.
The following named were all schooners: Big Z lost near Sheboygan, Lake Michigan. Virginia Purdy wrecked at Point Pelee. Forest sunk by brig Arcadia in Lake Erie and one life lost. Dawn sunk by propeller Milwaukee in the Straits and five lives lost. Twilight lost on Lake Ontario. California lost at Port Clinton, Lake Erie. White Pigeon lost on east shore on Lake Michigan. Sodus wrecked on east shore of Lake Michigan. Coaster wrecked on Lake Superior. Island Queen wrecked in the Straits. C.L. Burton wrecked at Ashtabula. A. Scott wrecked at Vermilion. Constitution lost at Port Spruce, Lake Erie. Ada lost at Lakeport, Lake Huron. E. Creamer wrecked at Chicago.
The following named were all scows: Antelope lost at Point Pelee. William wrecked at Fairport. Stanley lost in Georgian Bay. Sea Witch wrecked at Fort Erie, Ont. Geneva lost at North Manitou. Loss of steam vessels, $351,535; loss by sail vessels, $668,565; lives lost, 105; disasters, 440. The fall of 1859 was attended with more heavy gales than had been known in many years.
Wreck of the Lady Elgin. - One of the greatest marine horrors on record was the loss of the steamboat Lady Elgin, on Lake Michigan, September 8, 1860. She was struck by the schooner Augusta, and sank in twenty minutes in 300 feet of water. She had on board 300 excursionists, 50 ordinary passengers, and a crew of 35 officers and men, a total of 385. Of these only 98 were saved. Among the lost was Herbert Ingram, of the "Illustrated London News".
The schooner Augusta, Capt. D.M. Malott, reached Chicago early Saturday morning, Sept. 8, and reported that on the night previous, about midnight, she had collided with a large steamer. The Augusta had a full cargo of lumber, which had shifted in the collision. She had struck head one, suffered the loss of her headgear, and was leaking badly. The captain knew nothing of the extent of the disaster to the other vessel.
The steamer Lady Elgin had left Milwaukee early Friday morning September 7, for Chicago with 300 excursionists, largely members of the Independent Union Guards, and their friends. She left Chicago in the evening between 10 and 11 o'clock on her regular trip to Lake Superior, taking about 50 passengers for Mackinaw and other northern points in addition to the 300 Milwaukee excursionists. The evening set in with a wind moderately high. A heavy thunder storm came up about midnight, and the wind grew to a perfect gale. The sea ran high and so continued throughout the night and Saturday.
At the time of the collision the Lady Elgin was steaming northward against the wind. The Augusta was sailing south by east under all sail except the gaff topsail. The steamer had all her lights set, the schooner had none. A half hour before the collision the second mate of the Augusta, on watch, saw the steamer's lights, and for 20 minutes no orders were given. Evidence taken before the coroner's inquest showed that the captain of the Augusta, who had come forward, seemed bent on passing to the starboard of the Lady Elgin instead of on the larboard side, according to rule. Shortly before the collision he ordered his helm head up, but she came straight on the steamer's larboard side, knocking a hole in her side.
It was about 2:30 o'clock on Saturday morning when the collision occurred. The Lady Elgin was about 10 miles from shore, off Winetka, 16 miles north of Chicago. The schooner struck the steamer at the midships gangway on the larboard side, tearing off the wheel, cutting through the guards and into the cabin and hull. The two separated instantly, and the Augusta drifted by in the darkness. At the moment of collision there was dancing in the forward cabin, but most of the passengers had retired for the night. In an instant all was still. Captain Wilson ordered a lifeboat to be lowered on the starboard side, to be rowed around and discover the extent of the injury. It dropped astern and did not regain the steamer. The latter was headed west in order to reach shore if possible. But the vessel began to fill rapidly and to list. Freight was rolled to starboard and passengers were provided with life-preservers. The Elgin began to settle and reel, and many passengers threw themselves overboard. Just when the vessel took the final plunge, a sea struck her upper works and they parted from the hull and floated off in several pieces. The night was intensely dark, lighted up at intervals by flashes of vivid lightning, and wreckage was scattered about profusely.
Two boats had been lowered, and in these 18 persons reached shore. Fourteen were saved on a large raft, and many others on parts of wreckage. It was estimated that 393 (another statement says 385) souls were aboard the vessel, and of these 98 were reported saved.
A survivor named Bellman, after describing how he and others with the captain got upon a raft, says: "On this extempore raft not less than 300 persons were collected, the majority of whom clung to their places until nearly daylight. The raft was mostly under water from the weight of its living burden, and very few who clung to it but were above the waist in the turbulent sea. The captain was constantly on his feet, encouraging the crowd, and seems to have been the only man who dared to stir from his recumbent position, which was necessary to keep a secure hold upon the precarious raft. He carried a child which he found in the arms of an exhausted and submerged woman, to an elevated portion of the raft, and left it in charge of a woman, when it was soon lost. He constantly exhorted the crowd to keep silent, and not only to make no noise, but to refrain from moving, in order that the frail framework might last the longer." Bellman further states that during the time which elapsed while the raft kept together there was scarcely a sound from man, woman or child. They clung to their places in silent terror, and neither groans nor prayers were audible; no voice, save that of the captain raised aloud in encouragement and good cheer, being heard amidst the roar of the wind and the ceaseless splash of the combing waves. Finally the constant action of the water broke up the raft, and large parties floated off on detached pieces, and gradually the multitude melted away by couples and solitary individuals until but a tithe of the whole number remained. The swell tumbled the light rafts about like feather-weights, and a weary struggle the hopeless survivors had during the long drift of ten miles intervening to the shore. Bellman was ten hours on his raft, and says that he was capsized and thrown into the sea, with his two companions, every third minute. When they reached the shore they were dashed about hopelessly in the surf, and more fortunate than their companions, were lifted upon the beach by the breakers and rescued. The heroic captain was among the lost.
The Lady Elgin was rated a first-class steamer, and had been a favorite with the traveling public. She was built in Buffalo in 1851 by Bidwell & Banta at a cost of $96,000. For several years she ran between Buffalo and Chicago, then between Chicago and Collingwood, but for many seasons had constituted the line between Chicago and other Lake Michigan ports and Lake Superior. The Augusta was owned by Capt. G. W. Bissell, of Detroit, who not long after had her name changed to Col. Cook. She was the second vessel of that name, the first Col. Cook having been wrecked in the St. Lawrence.
Total Loss of the Dacotah. - The season of 1860, as regards the loss of life and property was the most disastrous on record, and the loss of life the most deplorable since known. During the terrific gale in November, occurred the destruction of the propeller Dacotah, Capt. William Cross, on Sturgeon Point in Lake Erie, with 24 lives, not a soul being saved. It was a fearful night, and the suffering among vessels was above description. The Dacotah was 688 tons burden, and had been but three years in commission. She left Buffalo in the evening freighted with merchandise for Chicago, with no passengers. Nothing but fragments were ever seen afterward, so complete was her destruction. She was built by Luther Moses at Cleveland, and was valued at $33,600. She was owned by James F. Clark, of the New York Central railroad.
Jersey City Meets Her Fate. - In the same storm the propeller Jersey City met her fate on Long Point, Lake Erie, with 19 lives, and freighted from Cleveland with a miscellaneous cargo. She was of 633 tons burden, and commanded by Captain Monroe, a man of large experience on the lakes. Portions of her cargo drifted ashore on the south shore of the lake, and her lifeboat was found near Buffalo.
Hurricane Goes Down. - In the same storm the schooner Hurricane, with a cargo of rye, foundered in Lake Michigan with nine lives. The bodies all drifted ashore near St. Joseph. She was sailed by Capt. William Welch, who resided in Buffalo. She was owned by Sears & Clark, of that city.
The loss of property on the lakes by disasters in 1860 was $1,200,000, and of lives 578.
The Sault Canal. - A writer describing a trip made up the lakes in 1860, thus speaks of the Sault: "We reached the Sault Saint Marie about 4 P.M. of the 2d of August. Here the river St. Mary on the eastern outlet of Lake Superior, after a wide course of fifty miles, gathers the multitude of its waters into a narrow channel of less than a mile in width and length, of swift and impassable rapids.
"The grand ship canal, with its stone banks of about 80 feet width, and three locks, transports the largest tonnage around these rapids. This great work was completed in 1857 by the contractors Erastus Corning, of New York, Fairbanks and others, for a contract price of 750,000 acres of land, chiefly mineral, in the State of Michigan. During our steamer's canal passage of about two hours, we were interested by the picturesque scenery, untenanted save by the wigwam and the bark canoe. As usual, upon the arrival of the steamer, the long canoe, steadily held by a single boy and paddle in a current swift as the Niagara, shoots out into the Sault, while the Indian, standing erect in the canoe, posing his harpoon and scrap net, strikes or swoops in the large and delicious white fish, assured of a capacious basketful and more, before the steamer leaves the canal."
Other Events of 1860. – March 23: Channel staked out at The Flats; 26, C. J. Kershaw, in command of Captain Mayne, sails for Constantinople. Navigation of 1860 opened at Buffalo on April 17, the propeller Equinox being the first boat to leave, followed the same day by the propeller Araxes. The Straits were open April 12, the propeller Buckeye being the first craft through, bound east. Steamers on Lake Superior passed through the Sault canal May 11, the propeller Fountain City, Capt. E. M. Peck, being the first boat through. The Erie canal opened April 15, and closed December 12.
May: Bark American Republic abandoned. Cleveland brig, J. G. Deshler, sails for Liverpool. Schooner Fidelity abandoned. Steamer Prairie State sunk in the Straits of Mackinac. Steamer Arctic is wrecked on Huron island, Lake Superior; total loss.
June: Schooner Rebecca sunk near Detour. Propeller Portsmouth disabled. Boiler of propeller Kenosha exploded in Sheboygan; clerk and engineer killed. Boiler of propeller R. H. Foss exploded. July: Steamer Ohio, of Reid's line, towed to Buffalo and burned for her iron. The schooner Washington Irving lost between Erie and Buffalo; six lives lost.
August: During 36 hours, 100 sail vessels passed Detroit, besides 17 propellers and several steamers, carrying cargoes valued at a quarter of a million dollars. Schooner Wyandotte damaged on Lake Michigan by lightning. Price on wheat from Chicago to Kingston, 15 cents per bushel; from Chicago to Buffalo, 10 cents.
September: Schooner A. L. Hazelton, of Buffalo, capsized on Lake Erie; crew rescued by propeller Marquette. The Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria, arrived in Toronto from Cobourg on the steamer Kingston. Canadian schooner W. H. Davis sunk in storm on Lake Erie. Steamer Gazelle, of Detroit, lost on Lake Superior near Eagle harbor. Schooner A. E. Marsilliot, of Cleveland, capsized off Port Bruce; Captain Burger drowned. Schooner Silas Wright wrecked near Dunkirk; total loss. During the latter part of September, a severe storm occurred on Lake Erie, which caused the loss of a number of vessels, among them the schooner Champion, of Oakville; the brig Ocean, of Chatham; the Antelope, of Morpeth, and the J. G. Scott, of Port Burwell. The captains of the Ocean and the Antelope were also lost besides many others.
October: Propeller Mt. Vernon sunk at Point Pelee from explosion, and two lives lost. Scow Ottaca sunk in Point Pelee passage. November: Brig J. G. Deshler sunk in Sheboygan river; bark T. F. Park, bound for Europe, ran ashore at Stony island; propeller Mohawk, of Western Transportation Co., exploded on St. Clair flats, two firemen killed; propeller Globe exploded at Chicago, 16 men killed; steamer Chippewa Valley sunk near Trempealeau, Wis.; schooner Kyle Spangler sunk off Presque Isle, Lake Huron; scow E. S. Taylor goes to pieces near the mouth of the Detroit river; schooner Industry goes to pieces; schooner Zadoc Pratt sunk in Point Pelee passage on the wreck of the propeller Mt. Vernon; propeller Wabash Valley, valued at $28,000, wrecked at Muskegon; propeller Dacotah lost with crew; schooner Hurricane goes ashore and all hands lost.
December: Bark T. F. Park sails for Europe; brig John H. Harmon, recently wrecked, raised and sold to parties in Prince Edward Island.
The following craft also passed out of existence in 1860: Steamer Troy during a freshet drifted out of Goderich and sunk. Steamer John Owen burned at Port Huron. Steamer Hendrick Hudson burned at Cleveland; $10,000. Steamer Jacques Cartier sunk by steamer Magnet in St. Lawrence. Propeller Globe exploded at Chicago and 16 lives lost. Tug A. S. Fields exploded at Detroit and five lives were lost. Bark Superior wrecked at Gull bar, Lake Ontario. Brig St. Louis lost near Erie, Lake Erie. Brig Belle wrecked near Bailey's Harbor. Brig Clarion lost on Lake Michigan. Brig Mineral wrecked near Oswego. Schooner Mary lost near Cleveland with three lives.
The following named were all schooners: Gertrude wrecked near Manitowoc. W. H. Davey sunk near Middle Sister. T. P. Handy lost near Kenosha, Lake Michigan. St. Mary foundered in Lake Michigan and seven lives lost. Rocket sunk off Point aux Barques. Circassian lost near Mackinaw. Spartan lost near St. Joseph. Total amount of losses, $1,156,015; loss of life, 578; number of disasters, 382.