Great Lakes Maritime History
History of the Great Lakes
Vol. 1 by J.B. Mansfield
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Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899
Vol. 1 of History of the Great Lakes
1891 – 1898.
Foundering Of The Perew, 1891 – Loss Of The Hattie A. Estelle – Disappearance Of The Hume – Other Events Of 1891 – Western Reserve Goes Down, 1892 – Terrific October Storm – Disappearance Of The Gilcher – Foundering Of The Nashua – Loss Of The John Burt – Other Events Of 1892 – Fatal Collision Of The Albany And Philadelphia, 1893 – Destructive October Gale – Curious World's Fair Visitors: Spanish Caravels And Norwegian Viking – Statistics – Other Events Of 1893 – Loss Of The Cummings, 1894 – Other Events Of That Year – Loss Of The Chicora, 1895 – Loss Of The St. Magnus – Foundering Of The Africa – Low Water – Five Fatal Disasters – Loss Of The Missoula – Other Events Of 1895 – Statistics Of Marine Losses, 1896 – Loss Of The Ayer, Sumatra And Waukesha – Other Events Of 1896 – Wreck Of The Idaho, 1897 – Safe To Sail The Lakes – Wreck Of The Pewabic Found – Losses Of Vessels From 1890 To 1897 – Other Events Of 1897 – The Mild Winter Of 1897-98 – From The Lakes To The Atlantic – Severe Storms, 1898 – Loss Of The Doty – Loss Of The Thol And Other Vessels – Wreck Of The St. Peter – Foundering Of The Churchill – Good Year For Lake Craft – Large Cargoes – Caught In The Ice – Other Events Of 1898.
Late in September of this year the schooner Frank Perew foundered off White Fish Point, Lake Superior. From the account of the only survivor (Charles Larrabee, of Buffalo) of a crew of seven, all told, it is learned that on September 25 the steamer N. K. Fairbanks, which had the schooner in tow, cast her off, she being bound for Marquette with coal. The next day a severe storm was encountered, and on Tuesday, when about 15 miles off Vermilion Point, the hatch cloths were washed off and the schooner filled through her hatchways. The crew stuck to her until it was evident that she would soon go to the bottom, when they took to the yawl, and for six hours struggled with the waves. They passed within two miles of White Fish Point, and made for Parisienne island. When within 40 rods of the beach the yawl capsized in the shoal water. Twice all hands caught on to the boat, but were washed off again, and all hands drowned with the exception of Larrabee, who reached shore and wandered around until he met two fishermen, who returned with him. They recovered the bodies of Capt. J. M. Marquey, of Bay City, and the rest of the crew.
Loss of the Hattie A. Estelle. – The schooner Hattie A. Estelle, of Chicago, bound for Buffalo with a cargo of wheat, went ashore at the entrance to Manistee, Lake Michigan, and became a total loss. James Stern reached the shore by swimming, and the life-saving crew rescued three of the crew. Captain Estelle and two of the crew were drowned. The schooner was owned by the Captain, who was an active, energetic man. She was only 295 tons burden, and was built in 1873 by Hanson & Co., at Manitowoc, Wis., for Capt. J.L. Higgie, who gave her the name of Mary L. Higgie after his little daughter. Shortly after she went into commission she took a load of deals from Green Bay to Liverpool, England, returning to Quebec with a cargo of coal. After discharging cargo she left Quebec for Cape Town, Africa, with a load of deals. Leaving there she went to Natal during the African war and returned to Cape Town with some prisoners.
Disappearance of the Hume. – One of the most singular cases on record for the year was the loss of the schooner Thomas Hume, which left Chicago on the evening of May 21, light, for Muskegon. Neither the vessel nor any member of her crew was ever since heard of, and while she is listed as foundering on Lake Michigan, uncertainty existed for many weeks after her disappearance. That a vessel in first-class condition, in charge of a skilled navigator and well manned, should have been so totally obliterated seemed remarkable.
Other Events of 1891. – The loss of the stanch schooner Atlanta through foundering on Lake Superior was another disaster, as the entire crew perished after abandoning the sinking vessel. Three lives were also lost through the foundering of the tug Tempest in Cleveland harbor. The Canadian schooner E. G. Benedict stranded in the harbor of Port Stanley November 19, and the crew were compelled to take to the rigging. The life-saving crew at Port Stanley rescued the captain, mate and four seamen from their perilous position, a heavy sea continually breaking over them until Coxswain Berry and his crew reached them. Each member of the crew received $5 for this gallant exploit as a reward for their services. The two fastest boats in 1891 were probably the Owego and the Chemung, both built for the Union Steamboat Company to engage in the package freight business between Buffalo and Chicago, and each costing about $330,000. The Owego in 1891 held the record between Chicago and Buffalo, running the entire distance, 889 miles, in 54 hours and 15 minutes, an average speed of 16.4 miles per hour. Most of the steel freighters made only about 12½ to 14 miles per hour. Two whaleback propellers were sent to the Atlantic coast, and three remained on the lakes. One of those sent to the Atlantic coast, the C. W. Wetmore, attracted great attention by carrying a cargo of wheat in the summer of 1891 from Duluth to Liverpool. This, however, was not done without breaking bulk at Kingston, running the rapids in the St. Lawrence river, reloading at Montreal, and proceeding thence to Liverpool. She then crossed the Atlantic to Philadelphia, there took a cargo of machinery for Puget Sound, reaching her destination in safety. March: Steamer City of Detroit No. 2 severely damaged by collision with McDougall's rock.
April: Schooner Samana damaged by collision with steambarge C. H. Green at Port Huron. Scow Mammoth sunk at Cleveland. Propeller Josephine damaged by fire at Ogdensburg to the extent of $5,000.
May: Steamer R. J. Gibbs waterlogged at Port Austin. Tug Eleanor sunk off Pigeon island. Schooner Minerva severely damaged by collision with the schooner Magdalena. Schooner W. C. Kimball lost off Point Betsey. Barge Baker sunk at St. Clair canal.
June: Scow Mayflower sunk on Lake Superior. Schooner Fayette Brown sunk by collision with the Northern Queen. Tug Mockingbird and raft of 4,500,000 feet of lumber ashore near Bay City. Tugs Alva B. and American Eagle collide on Lake Erie, sinking the latter. The Starke sunk by collision with the schooner Chas. Wyman near Port Washington. Schooner Topsey foundered at Sand bay. Propeller Bay City burned in Detroit river.
July: Steambarge Ira Chaffee burned at Sault Ste. Marie. Propeller Pontiac sunk by collision with the steamer Athabasca near Wilson's Bend. Schooner Colonel Cook sunk at Sandusky. Burned steamer Annie Young sold to John W. Thomson for $150. Schooner Silver Cloud capsized near Port Washington. Scow Hero sunk off Starve island. Schooner Gearing burned at Trenton. Steamer Mike Davis burned at Osceola, Wisconsin. Steamer B. F. Ferris burned at Caseville. Schooner Helena sunk by collision with the steamer Mariska at Black Hole, Little Mud lake. Schooner Michigan broke in two at the dock at Chicago.
August: Schooner S. B. Pomeroy burned off Oak Orchard harbor. Steamer William Alderson burned near Port Dover. Schooner Dawn capsized off Port Washington. The James Sawyer capsized near Waugashance. Barge Genesee Chief waterlogged at Cheboygan. Schooner Millard Fillmore sunk near Roger's City. Tug Florence sunk at Cleveland. Steambarge Edward H. Jenks sunk by steamer Marley near Ballard's reef.
September: Schooner Persia foundered off Point Petre. Tug Danforth sunk near Buffalo. Barge Thos. Parsons sunk at Fairport. Schooner Mediter-ranean foundered in Lake Michigan. Schooner Frank Perew foundered off Whitefish point.
October: Steamer Winslow burned at Duluth. Barge W. L. Peck sunk on Lake Erie. Steamer Susan E. Peck sunk by collision with the schooner George W. Adams at Lake George flats. Barge Mary Birckhead sunk by collision with the steamer Roman at Lime Kiln Crossing. Tug Oswego burned in Detroit river. Schooner Lottie Wolf wrecked off Hope island. Steamer Conemaugh sunk by collision with the schooner New York near Detroit. Steambarge Oscar Townsend burned on Lake Huron. Propeller Sovereign foundered on Lake Superior. Steambarge Alpena burned on Lake St. Clair.
November: Steambarge J. S. Ruby burned near Stag island. Schooner Montcalm wrecked near Long point. Schooner Ellen Severlson wrecked at Grand Haven. Propeller Oswegatchie foundered on Lake Huron. Schooner George C. Finney foundered on Lake Erie. Propeller Samuel Mather sunk by collision with the steamer Brazil in Whitefish bay; valued at $95,000. Tug Page burned near Fairport. Pasaic foundered on Lake Erie. Tug Leviathan burned at Cheboygan.
December: Steamer Scranton wrecked at Bar point. Steamer Ogemaw sunk at Big Bay de Noc. Steamer Jeanie burned at Toledo.
Western Reserve Goes Down. – On Tuesday, August 30, the new steel steamer Western Reserve, 2,392 tons burden, commanded by Capt. Albert Meyer, bound from Cleveland to Two Harbors, foundered during a fierce gale on Lake Superior, about 60 miles above Whitefish Point, resulting in the drowning of six passengers and a crew of 25, Harry W. Stewart, wheelsman, of Algonac, being the sole survivor. The Western Reserve had sheltered behind Whitefish Point for a time, but finally, feeling confident of her ability to reach her destination in safety, the captain headed her into the lake, and all went well until about 9 P. M., when she was about 60 miles above the point, when the first warning of impending danger was a terrible crash, caused by the steamer breaking in two, the main mast going by the board, and weakening at other points well forward. She shipped water fast from the start, and the yawl boats were lowered. Capt. P. G. Minch, owner, with his family, and the officers and crew of the steamer to the number of seventeen, got into the wooden boat, the others taking to the metallic yawl. A few moments later the great steel hull sank in deep water, but before she had disappeared the metallic lifeboat capsized.
The other boat went to the assistance of those struggling in the water, but only succeeded in rescuing two of the unfortunates, Captain Meyer's son Carl, and the steward. The 19 survivors now in the yawl headed for Whitefish Point, 60 miles away. The wind was northeast when they started, but veered to the north, making considerable sea. The small boat weathered it, however, until 7 o'clock Wednesday morning when, about ten miles from Life-saving Station, No. 12, and about a mile from shore, it capsized, and all lost their lives except Mr. Stewart. The captain's son Carl bore up for a time, but, becoming exhausted, gave up the struggle, and Mr. Stewart, who was a strong swimmer, reached the shore alone, ten miles from the life-saving station, where he lay unconscious for a time. He then walked and crawled to the station and reported the calamity. Captain Minch was accompanied on this disastrous voyage by his wife and two children, and his wife's sister, with her daughter. W. H. Seaman, the chief engineer, was a son-in-law of George Eddy, a former manager of the old Northern Trans-portation Line at Ogdensburg, N. Y. The bodies of Captain Minch and his sister-in-law were recovered.
Terrific October Storm. – On Friday, October 28, the weather, which had been acting unsteady for 24 hours previously, veered to the north-west, and by midnight a 60 to 70 mile gale was blowing over the several lakes, resulting in a loss of a number of lives and a million dollars worth of vessel property. The principal casualties at Cleveland were the sinking of the steamers Pontiac, Maruba and Ketchum in about 20 feet of water; schooners Samana, Colonel Cook, and Glad Tidings total losses, and the yacht Matt B. sunk, all inside the breakwater.
The schooner Nellie Hammond, while seeking shelter, became a total wreck on the south pier at Muskegon, and her master, Louis Michelson, was drowned. The barge Mishicott piled herself up south of Manistee, and the crew saved only by heroic efforts of life-savers. The schooner Zach Chandler, loaded with lumber, parted her tow line near White Fish Point, on Lake Superior, and went ashore four miles east of the Deer Park life-saving station with the loss of one man, the schooner becoming a total loss. The barge Sunshine was waterlogged and abandoned on Lake Erie, the crew being rescued by the propeller Hadsen. The Sunshine was eventually picked up and towed into port. The schooner A.P. Nichols dragged ashore on Pilot island at Death’s Door entrance to Green Bay, and filled with water. The schooner H.P. Baldwin was driven ashore, and filled near Colchester, Lake Erie. The steamers Canisteo, with consorts S.B. Pomeroy and Stewart, stranded twelve miles below Chiboygan(sic), and the scow Essex on Lighthouse Point, near the same place. The schooner Lillie Pratt drove ashore near Frankfort, the steamer City of Naples stranded on False Presque Isle, and the tug Onward was driven against the piers and sunk at Traverse City, Michigan.
Disappearance of the Gilcher. - There were many other casualties, but the most calamitous page in the chapter was the disappearance of the large new steel steamer W.H. Gilcher with all hands, and the schooner Ostrich on Lake Michigan laden with 3,000 tons of coal. Capt. Lloyd H. Weeks, who was in command of the Gilcher, was a master of undoubted seamanship and experience, and had a capable crew of 16 all told, none of whom escaped to verify any of the theories that were formed to account for her disappearance. The most acceptable view regarding the loss of the Gilcher is that she was in collision with the schooner Ostrich, Captain McKay, owner and master, with a crew of six. In support of the above theory, Captain Stuffelbaum, master of the Steambarge Hattie B. Perene, reported that he had examined some wreckage on High island, Lake Michigan, consisting of the "string backs," which held the canvas covers of the Gilcher’s lifeboats. They had been cut into with an axe, which clearly indicated that the crew had rushed to the life-boats in great haste and did not have time to pull off the awning in the ordinary way. From the fact that the lifeboats were never found, it seems probable that the steamer went down before they could be freed from the davits. Wreckage of the schooner Ostrich and Gilcher lay on the beach not 100 feet apart.
Foundering of the Nashua. The propeller Nashua, laden with lumber from Georgian Bay to Toledo, foundered on Lake Huron, October 4, with all hands, 14 souls in all. Wreckage drifted ashore between Bayfield and Goderich.
Loss of the John Burt. On September 26, the schooner John Burt, of Detroit, was wrecked three and one-half miles south of the Big Sandy life-saving station on Lake Ontario. Two persons were drowned. The John Burt was a three-masted schooner, built in Detroit in 1871, of 348 gross tons. She was bound from Chicago to Oswego, and had almost reached her port of destination when her rudder head gave way in a furious gale from the northwest, and she became unmanageable and was driven past her port down the lake. She was sighted from the Big Sandy station under a reefed foresail and two head sails drifting toward the shore, heavy rain squalls prevailing. When the weather again lighted up, Keeper Fish, of the station, and judging that she was powerless to contend with the storm, launched the lifeboat in the creek and pulled across, landing just as the schooner came up in the wind and let go her anchors two miles to the southward, but dragging her anchors toward the shore until the cables parted and she stranded, the waves leaping completely over her, and the crew in the mizzen rigging.
The life-savers fired a line squarely through the main rigging. The crew, however, did not seem disposed to use the line thus sent them. Two abandoned their places of refuge in the shrouds and leaped into the boisterous waves. Four surfmen, with life lines attached to their bodies, reached the struggling sailors and assisted them to land. The mizzen mast soon went by the board, followed by the main mast a moment later, precipitating the hapless crew into the lake. The life-saving men then, with lines attached, entered the water and rescued three more of the sailors.
Other Events of 1892. - April: Schooner John B. Merrill sunk by collision with the steamer Mercur at Bar Point. Schooner Mystic Star sunk at Fair Haven. Schooner Sophia J. Luff wrecked in Georgian Bay. Schooner Annie Sherwood wrecked off Eagle river.
May: Steamer Celtic sunk by collision with the Russia off Point Rondeau. Steambarge Yosemite burned at Emerson. Tug Saginaw burned at Windsor. Schooner Hattie Perew waterlogged near Milwaukee. Tug Spinney sunk at Toledo. Propeller Mayflower sunk at Sandusky. Steambarge W.P. Thew burned off Chicago. Barge Brooklyn waterlogged at Alpena. Schooner Josephine sunk at Lake George Flats by collision with the Aloha. Steamer Kalamazoo sunk by collision with the Pilgrim on Lake Michigan. June: Steamer Progress sunk by collision with the steamer Briton in Detroit river. Schooner Persia wrecked at Racine Reef. Schooner Magnet sunk in Detroit river by collision with the Glencora. Tug Winslow sunk near Point Pelee. Steamer A.E. Wilds sunk by collision with the Douglass off Milwaukee. Tug Danforth sunk at Duluth. Schooner Fred A. Morse sunk by collision with the John C. Pringle at Thunder Bay. July: Barge C.H. Davis waterlogged at Buffalo. Steamer Island Belle destroyed by lightning at Grand Island. Barge H.S. Walbridge destroyed by fire in Detroit river. Schooner General Burnside sunk on Lake Erie. Steambarge Nelson Mills wrecked off Nanbenmay. Steamer R.P. Flower wrecked near Waugashance. Schooner Cheney Ames sunk at Muskegon. Schooner Mary D. Ayer waterlogged off Whitefish Point. Tug Chicago sunk by collision with the steamer City of Concord off Chicago.
August: Steamer Princess Louise sunk by collision off Thompson’s Point. Steamer Remora sunk at St. Ignace. Steambarge S. Neff sunk at Cleveland. Schooner City of Toledo capsized on Lake Michigan; several lives lost. Steamer Kitty M. Forbes sunk at Cleveland.
September: Tug John A. Paige burned on Lake Superior. Schooner Guiding Star abandoned at Big Bay Point. Schooner Fanny Campbell waterlogged off Goderich. The Dan Kunz sunk at Sandusky by collision with the steamer Roland, afterwards raised.
October: Steambarge Richard Martini sunk by collision with a schooner at Bar Point. Tug McVea burned in River St. Clair. Steambarge Canada burned at Port Huron. Barge Jupiter waterlogged off Black river. Schooner J.E. Gilmore wrecked at Garrett’s bay. Steambarge Roland sunk near Green Island. Barge Samona wrecked at Cleveland. Schooner Zack Chandler ashore and wrecked at Deer Park.
November: Tug James Amadeus sunk near Point Pelee. Canadian schooner Marquis a total loss at Forest bay. Schooner Minnie Davis sunk by collision with the schooner Hunter Savidge near Point Mowia. Tug C.J.G. Monroe burned at Port Colborne. Schooner Nelson sunk at Lime Kiln Crossing by collision with the Susan D. Peck. Schooner Grace Murray sunk at Bar Point. Schooner Annie Vought, ashore at the Manitous, goes to pieces.
December 12: Steamer Notherner burned at her dock at L’Anse. Valued at $50,000.
Fatal Collision of the Albany and Philadelphia. - The steel steamer Albany of the Western Transit Company and the iron steamer Philadelphia of the Anchor line collided on Lake Huron off Point aux Barques early on the morning of November 7, in a dense fog. Both vessels went down and twenty-four lives were lost. The Philadelphia caught the Albany just forward of No. 2 gangway, smashing in the steel plates and pushing her nose several feet into the Albany's body. The Philadelphia's nose was smashed flat, but for a few minutes after backing away seemed to make but little water. The Philadelphia threw out a line, took the Albany in tow and headed for Point aux Barques, 12 miles distant. The Albany filled rapidly. Within 30 minutes the men took to the yawl, and soon after the Albany went down stern first in 200 feet of water. The Philadelphia took aboard the Albany's crew, and under full steam made for shore. She soon began to settle, and at the same time the wind began to blow stiffly from the north, lifting a choppy sea. Captain Hoff, of the Philadelphia, decided to take to the yawls. Twenty-two men, including Captain Hoff and Capt. A. J. McDonald, of the Albany, and 20 men entered the smaller yawl and 24 men the larger. The former made shore without trouble. The latter capsized, and all on board were lost. The fog was so dense that the two boats soon parted after leaving the sinking steamer. Eleven bodies, all wearing life preservers, were recovered, and the missing boat was found bottom up.
Loss of the Eddy. – The total loss with all hands of the stanch well-informed schooner Newell A. Eddy, Captain Barton, at the Lake Huron entrance to the straits, was one of the most serious losses for this season. The stern of the Eddy was washed up near Bois Blanc light. During the life of this storm, which did not blow itself out for several days, 23 vessels were victims of its violence, 12 stranding, four foundering, three disabled, four damaged in hull, two by collision. Had Lake Superior been open to navigation there would no doubt have been other serious losses to add to that terrible storm.
Destructive October Gale. – The northwest gale that prevailed over the lakes on October 14 and 15 was the most destructive to life and property that had been experienced for many years, the gale registering as high as 60 miles an hour. A careful record places the loss of life at 41; two vessels were totally wrecked and 29 stranded. The steamer Dean Richmond, valued at $115,000, foundered off Dunkirk, Lake Erie, Capt. G. W. Stoddard, Chief Engineer Evans and 13 others going down with her. The steamer Wocoken, valued at $65,000, foundered on Lake Erie. Capt. Albert Meswald, who was in command, Michael Hinekelman, chief engineer, and a crew of twelve found watery graves. Captain Meswald was part owner. He had enlisted and served in a Michigan regiment during the war of the Rebellion, and three years after the close of the war he began sailing the Genesee Chief, owned by Capt. S.B. Grummond, of Detroit. His wife is a sister of Captains John and Alfred Mitchell, of Cleveland.
The schooner Minnehaha, valued at $48,000, stranded at Onekena. Captain Parker, who was sailing her, was the only survivor out of a crew of seven.
The schooner Annie Sherwood went ashore waterlogged 30 miles above White Fish Point, Lake Superior, and Capt. Louis Guthrie, of Chicago, and one seaman perished from exposure.
The schooner Pelican, Capt. Barney Gray, foundered off Ashtabula in about eight fathoms of water May 16, taking down with her the mate and three seamen. The schooner R. J. Gibbs also foundered while riding at anchor off Bar Point, Lake Erie. The crew was rescued by the steamer Iron Chief. She was built in Vermilion by Squires in 1855.
The Canadian steamer Byron Trerice was destroyed by fire at Leamington September 12, with a loss of three lives. The Trerice had been plying on the Cleveland-Rondeau route, and put in at Leamington for shelter.
Curious World's Fair Visitors. – An interesting event of 1893 was the arrival of three Spanish caravels, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina, constructed in Spain in close imitation of the Spanish fleet in which Christopher Columbus, four centuries earlier, had made his first and successful voyage of discovery to America. These antique models were manned in Spain and crossed the ocean in safety. They were among the most interesting spectacles at the World's Fair, and are now passing into decay in the lagoons at Jackson Park, Chicago.
Another curious foreign arrival in 1893 was the little Viking, a Scandinavian craft, of ancient build, which won unbounded admiration at the World's Fair, and then with the typical restlessness of the old Norse Kings left the strange waters of the Great Lakes and returned to the Fatherland.
Statistics. – During the season 53 vessels passed out of existence, involving a loss of tonnage of 24,258, valued at $1,040,000; the partial losses, $1,072,180; making a total of $2,112,588.
Of the casualities 59 occurred on Lake Erie; 33 on Lake Huron; 10 on Lake Superior; 12 on Lake Michigan; 4 on Lake Ontario; and 5 on Detroit river.
The total loss of life during the season aggregated 123, against 99 for the previous year. It is notable that of the immense number of passengers carried on the various pleasure boats in commission at Chicago during the World's Fair but one passenger was lost, James M. Cutler, a real-estate dealer of Chicago, who fell overboard from the steamer City of Toledo, near Jackson park.
Other Events of 1893. – April: Schooner Tuxbury sunk near Turtle Light. Steamer City of Naples collides with and sinks the schooner City of Cheboygan at Lighthouse pier. Schooner Keewaunee wrecked at Racine. Tug Sea Gull burned in the straits of Mackinac. Steamer Ohio severely damaged by a gale on Lake Huron. Barge E. F. Gould waterlogged near West Sister island. Schooner R. B. Hayes foundered off Chicago. Schooner Lumberman capsized off Racine.
May: Schooner Vienna wrecked at Manitou beach. Dredge Continental sunk at Conneaut; five men drowned. The barge M. R. Goffe sunk by collision with the schooner Iron Cliff, below Stag island.
June: Schooner Corsican sunk by collision with the steamer Corsica off Thunder Bay island. Steamer Arcadia sunk in the Cornwall canal. Tug Osborne burned at the Ottawa river. Steambarge S. C. Clark burned off Port Sanilac.
July: Steamer Tom Maytham sunk by collision with rocks at Cedar point. Schooner John Rice capsized off Thunder Bay island. Dredge Lorain foundered at Sandusky. Tug C. C. McDonald burned near Saginaw. Steamer Skater burned at Manistee.
August: Barge Oneonta sunk at Cleveland. Steambarge Josephine burned at Johnson's island. Tug Louis Wallace burned at Onekama. Steambarge Mary Pringle burned at Port Huron. Schooner Laura sunk on Lake Ontario. Tug Annie Laurie burned at the Sault. Steambarge Oneida burned on Lake Erie. Steambarge Ellida sunk at Duluth by collision with the steamer Lucille. Tug O. Wilcox foundered on Lake Huron. Barge McDougall waterlogged off Erie. The Jennie Mathews, H. J. Mills and William Wheeler lost on Lake Ontario.
September: Steamer Arctic sunk off White Rock. Schooner L. D. Bullock stranded at Braddock's Point; abandoned. Barge Huron sunk near Cardinal, Ontario. Schooner Hattie Earl wrecked near Michigan City, Ind. Barge Michigan foundered on Lake Superior. Barge Samuel Bolton wreck near Richmondville on Lake Huron. Schooner D. R. Martin waterlogged at Milwaukee. Steamyacht Tallahoosa burned off Long river. Schooner Margaret A. Muir foundered off Ahnapee. Tug Mystic burned at Ransom's Landing. Schooner Louisa E. Glade sunk at Manitowoc. Tug Maggie Carrell burned at West Superior.
October: Schooner Windsor wrecked at Cana island reef. Schooner David Stewart foundered at Pigeon bay. Steamer Ida M. Torrent burned at Cross Village, Mich. Tug Acme foundered near Black River. Steambarge S. C. Clark burned on Lake Huron; sold for $205. Schooner George wrecked at Pictured Rocks. Schooner Amboy wrecked off Buffalo. Schooner Riverside lost on Lake Erie. Schooner C. B. Benson lost in Gravelly bay.
November: Steamer Burlington sunk near Sand Beach. Steamer C. B. Lockwood sunk by collision with the E. A. Nicholson at the Lime Kilns; valued at $130,000. Steambarge Lowell burned at Port Huron. Tug Day capsized near Toledo. Tug M. I. Cummings burned at Cape Vincent. Tug George Douglas burned off Griffith island. Tug Beebe burned to the water's edge at Put-in-Bay and sunk.
December: Tug W. R. Crowell foundered near Michigan City. Steamer Waldo A. Avery burned at the Straits. Steamer City of Concord burned at Toledo. Steamer Mascotte burned at her dock at New Baltimore.
Loss of the Cummings. - The schooner M. J. Cummings, Capt. John McCulloch, foundered in the storm of May 18 on Lake Michigan, near Milwaukee, in 18 feet of water, forcing the crew of six into the rigging, where they clung many hours exposed to the fury of the gale. The lifesaving crew made a courageous but futile effort to rescue them with the lifeboat. In the afternoon the keeper and two of the crew of the Racine station and one of the crew of the Milwaukee station fell in with and assisted a party of volunteers in the attempt to rescue the survivors and surfman Gurdes, of the Milwaukee station, who had gained a footing on the wreck when the lifeboat was capsized the first time. Three of the crew of the vessel had drowned and two perished from exposure while lashed to the rigging. The last effort was made with the lifeboat of the steamer Nebraska, astern of a heavy scow in tow of the tug Hagerman. The tug took its tow well to windward of the wreck, but the boat came into collision with the scow and knocked a hole in her bow. She was slacked down without sending any crew to the rigging in which the three survivors were stationed. The mate lost his footing was drowned, but the other two embarked safely. They reached the beach without further accident. Six of the seven persons composing the crew of the Cummings were lost.
Other Events of 1894. - During the fierce gale of May 18, the schooner Myrtle carried away her rudder and drifted foul of two other schooners near Chicago harbor, causing her masts and bowsprit to go by the board, and leaving her helpless in the seaway. The life-saving crew made an attempt to tow out to the schooner, but the life-boat was capsized by the breakers and the crew narrowly escaped drowning. Shortly afterward the Myrtle stranded off Twenty-fifth street, and went to pieces, drowning all hands, comprising six men. The schooner Myrtle M. Ross caught fire early in the morning of July 10, near South Haven, Mich. Four of her crew were imprisoned in the cabin by the flames, the escape scuttle being obstructed by a cargo of cord wood. The life savers at the station took the fire apparatus to the steamer uncovered the scuttle and saved two of the crew, and with the assistance of the city fire department saved the vessel and cargo. As a result of this casualty four lives were lost. The schooner Hartford was overtaken by a storm on October 11, and went to anchor six miles south of Big Sandy station, Lake Ontario, when she foundered, drowning a crew of seven people.
April: Steamer William H. Barnum sunk at the Straits. Steamer Minneapolis sunk by ice at the Straits. Schooner H. D. Root sunk near Put-in-Bay. Schooner Lottie Cooper wrecked off Sheboygan; one life lost. Schooner Island City sunk on Lake Michigan; two lives lost. Steambarge Burlington burned in Detroit river. Tug Truant burned on Georgian Bay, near Burnt island. May: Steamers S. S. Curry and A. D. Thompson seriously damaged by collision at Little Lake George. Schooner William Shupe waterlogged near Port Huron; several lives lost. Tug Pacific sunk at Upper Portage Lake Canal by collision with the H. C. Richards. Schooner Lem Ellsworth foundered on Lake Michigan; seven lives lost.
June: Steamer Ocean and barge Kent sunk by collision near Alexandria bay. Steambarge W. P. Thew destroyed by fire at Bay City. Tug Giant sunk in Saginaw river. Tug Geo. B. McClellan sunk at her dock in Chicago. Dredge General Meade foundered on St. Clair Flats.
July: Steamer White Star burned at Cheboygan. Schooner Glad Tidings sunk by the steamer Pathfinder near Grassy island; four lives lost. August: Steamer Roanoke burned off Fourteen Mile Point. Tug True sunk at Sandusky. Ferry Richmond sunk by collision with the steamer Puritan at St. Joseph. City of Nicollet sunk at Sandusky. Schooner Cobb sunk by collision with the steamer America. Tug Cheney crushed and sunk by the steamer Fayette Brown at Sault Ste. Marie.
September: Steamer Robert Mills severely damaged by collision with the H. J. Jewett in the Straits. Schooner Mabel Wilson sunk by collision in St. Clair canal. Schooner William Howe sunk near Seulchoix Point; six lives lost. Schooner American sunk near Stony Point. Steamer Ohio and schooner Ironton sunk by collision on Lake Huron; five lives lost. October: Schooner John Wesley waterlogged on Lake Huron. Schooner Alva Bradley foundered in Lake Michigan. Steamer D. M. Wilson foundered in Lake Huron.
November: Steamer Seattle wrecked near Rondeau harbor. Steamer S. C. Baldwin sunk by collision with the Iron King at Marine City. Tug Mary and Norman burned at Vermilion. Tug C. H. Lamb sunk at Sandusky. Schooner John Shaw foundered at Au Sable. Schooner Antelope capsized off Grand Haven. Schooner D. S. Austin wrecked at Ludington. Schooner N. P. Barkalow sunk at Toledo. Steamer Ida Keith sunk in Niagara river. December: Tug C. G. Curtiss sunk at Cleveland. Tug Isabel sunk at Alpena. Capt. John Pridgeon, at one time the largest vessel-owner on the lakes, died at his home in Detroit.
The following vessels also passed out of existence during the season of 1894; Steamer: James Pickard. Tugs: A. L. Smith, Crusader and Joseph Heald; all burned. Schooners: American Union, Col. Cook, Lottie Cooper, Lincoln Dall, Evening Star, Moses Gage, Prince Alfred, H. B. Moore, J. L. McLaren, Mercury, C. G. Mixer, Rainbow, Jack Thompson, Ida, Wyandotte, Jeannie Mullen, Baltic, D. G. Fort, L. M. Guthrie, Julia Miner, Silver Lake, Lulu Whiting, Gazelle, Speed, Magnolia, St. Catharines, and Ada; all stranded except the Lottie Cooper, which foundered.
Loss of the Chicora. - In a terrible mid-winter storm the steamer Chicora, of the Graham & Morton Transportation Company's line, was lost January 21 between Milwaukee and St. Joseph with her crew of 23 and her only passenger. The steamer left Milwaukee for St. Joseph about 5 o'clock on the morning of January 21 while the weather was mild and the lake smooth, shaping her course directly for her destination. The barometer was unusually low, but Capt. Edward George Stines, her commander, nevertheless left port promptly on time. President Graham at his home in St. Joseph that morning discovered the alarming atmospheric conditions, and hastily notified the commander of the steamer Petoskey, then lying at St. Joseph, not to sail till the storm had passed. He wired the same instructions to Captains Stines, of the Chicora, but a little later learned that the vessel had already departed. The storm burst upon the lake as the day advanced, and no tidings to this day have come from the ill-fated Chicora, save that her spars and other wreckage drifted ashore between South Haven and Saugatuck, some days later. The Chicora was due at St. Joseph at 12:30 in the afternoon, and for a day it was believed she might have sought shelter in some neighboring port; but hope fled as rescuing vessels plowed their way in vain through thick fields of ice and in zero weather which followed and continued for several weeks. It is believed she went down a few miles off South Haven.
The Chicora was built in Detroit in 1892. She was 217 feet long, 35 feet beam and 15 feet in depth. She was built for the heavy freight traffic of the Graham & Morton line, but the passenger quarters were luxuriously furnished. Her guaranteed speed was seventeen miles an hour. As she was engaged in mid-winter service, there was no insurance. The loss of vessel and cargo was $175,000.
Nixon Waterman wrote the following versus, "Song and Sigh," in
commemoration of this disaster:
Here's a song for the Chicora, for the beautiful Chicora;
Proudly as a swan rides rode she o'er the undulating seas,
Dancing o'er the gentle billows gracefully as bend the willows -
Bend the lithe and happy willows to the breath of every breeze.
/From the bold and busy babble of a city’s rush and rabble
To the fields of fruit and flowers went she ever to and from;
Like a seabird flitting over to the land of soft, sweet clover,
To the bloom wreathed vales of gladness, to the hills of
“Old St. Joe!”
* * * *
Oh, the hearts that watched her going, ever smaller, smaller growing,
Out upon the seeming shoreless waste of waters glad and free,
Growing dimmer, dimmer, dimmer, in an irredescent shimmer,
Until a speck she faded ‘tween the blue of sky and sea.
Here’s a sigh for the Chicora, for the broken, sad Chicora;
Here’s a tear for those who followed her beneath the tossing wave.
Oh, the mystery of the morrow! From its shadows let us borrow
A star of hope to shine above the gloom of every grave.
Loss of the St. Magnus. - One of the singular disasters of the season was the fate of the Canadian line propeller St. Magnus, of Hamilton, Ont. While lying at dock at Cleveland on the evening of June 7, she listed and quietly sank. At great expense she was raised some weeks later and towed to Port Dalhousie. While on dry dock there, September 5, she took fire and was totally destroyed; one life was lost.
Foundering of the Africa. - The steamer Africa, of Owen Sound, having in tow the barge Severn, both being loaded with coal, from Ashtabula, Ohio, to Owen Sound, Ont., encountered a severe gale on Lake Huron. The tow line parted and the Africa fell into the trough of the sea and foundered, all hands on board, 13 in number, being lost. The Severn went ashore in the vicinity of Lyal island, and went to pieces, though her crew were all saved.
Low Water. - The influence of low water upon cargoes was shown by a table compiled by the Marine Review. It gives the first cargoes of 43 vessels for the season of 1894 at 90,769 tons. For the season of 1895 the first cargoes of the same vessels were only 83,467 tons, an average loss of 8 percent. The average draft at the Sault canal was about 13 feet 8 inches, or about 10 inches less than the draft of 1894.
Five Fatal Disasters. - The tug Pearl B. Campbell became heavily encompassed with ice in a heavy northeast gale and blinding snowstorm on Lake Superior, December 27, and foundered off Huron islands, carrying down her crew of seven. The schooner Kate Kelley foundered, May 14, off Racine Point, during a heavy gale of wind; the entire crew of seven were lost. Two lives were lost from the schooner Naiad, dismasted during a sudden squall, in July, off Charlevoix. The schooner Nellie Duff foundered off Lorain, in October, with the loss of three lives out of the crew of four. The steamyacht Gitana foundered near Tibbett’s light, St. Lawrence river, in June; the crew of three were drowned.
Loss of the Missoula. - The steamer Missoula broke her shaft in a heavy southwest gale on Lake Superior, November 1. She broached to, foundered and became a total loss of Caribou island. The crew took to the small boats, and finally reached the Canadian shore after great suffering. Several days elapsed before they reached an inhabited district.
Other Events of 1895. - April: Steambarge Sakie Shepard foundered off Turtle island. Barge Fostoria waterlogged at Port Huron. Steamer A. Everett sunk off Point aux Barques. Barge Bahama sunk at Alpena.
May: Steamer N.K. Fairbank burned at Morgan’s Point. Steamer Guide burned and sunk at Oswego. Schooner S.H. Kimball sunk off Point aux Barques by collision with steamer George Stone. Steamer Cayuga sunk near Skillagalee light by collision with steamer Joseph L. Hurd; damage to both vessels and cargoes about $300,000. Quickstep wrecked at St. Clair. Schooner Reindeer stranded at Black River. Steamer Niagara sunk at Port Colborne. Steamer Norman sunk on Lake Huron by collision with the Canadian steamer Jack; valued at $200,000; insured for $175,000; three lives lost.
June: Tug John Evanson sunk by collision with the schooner Watson, near Ahnapee. Steamer Salina sunk by the Lizzie A. Law, near Bay City. July: Canadian passenger steamer Cibola burned at Lewiston; the boat was launched at Deseronto, in 1887, and cost $200,000; one life lost. Steamer Nyanza sunk by collision with the Northern King at the foot of Sugar island; valued at $110,000. Schooner Republic sunk off Lorain. Schooner Ida May Brown capsized on the beach at Michigan City, and became a total loss.
August: Steamer Alva sunk by collision with whaleback barge 117 at the Sault. Steamer Burlington burned in Weldrum bay. Steamer Britanic sunk by the steamer Russia, near Upper Grosse Isle: one man drowned. Tug Siskiwat burned at Port William. Steamer Idlewild collides with and sinks the schooner Ferret, at Toledo. Steamer John Otis damaged by lightning, on Lake Michigan. Canadian steamer Daisy, of Port Hope, totally destroyed by fire.
September: Steamer C.A. Forbes burned near Bay City. Schooner Evaline capsized near Kewaunee. Tug Ella Smith sunk near French river, Georgian Bay. Schooner J.H. Magruder wrecked near Harrisville. Schooner Arctic sunk by collision with the propeller Clyde near Point aux Barques. Tug W.F. McRae sunk near Marine City. Schooner Queen City wrecked at Hog island reef. Schooner A.W. Comstock foundered off Standard rock during a 70 mile gale. Schooner E.R. Williams sunk on Green bay. Schooner C.H. Johnson went to pieces at Groscap. Steamer Mark Hopkins sunk by the steamer Vanderbilt in Hay lake. Steamer Montana sunk in the Portage Lake canal. Steamer Gracie Barker burned at Harbor Springs. Steamer Robert L. Fryer sunk in Hay lake by collision with the steamer Corsica; subsequently raised. Steamer Mark Hopkins sunk in the Sault passage. Schooner Odd Fellow stranded at Sauk’s Head. Schooner Phantom foundered off Little Sable Point. Schooner C.A. King foundered off Point aux Barques. Barge R.J. Carney wrecked at Shelldrake. Schooner Elma wrecked on Lake Superior; one life lost. Steamer C.J. Kershaw stranded at Chocolay reef during a heavy northeast gale; the vessel broke in two and sank in deep water, becoming a total loss; the schooners H.A. Kent and Moonlight, in tow also wrecked.
October: Schooners Itasca and Mary sunk above Port Huron by the steamer Parks Foster; Schooner Otter wrecked near Sturgeon Bay. Schooner Hanlon burned off Bushy island. Schooner C.N. Johnson sunk near Amherstburg. Steel steamer America sunk by the steamer W.H. Gilbert at Rains island. Schooner B.F. Bruce sunk at Sailors Encampment. Steamer John Craig sunk at Ballard’s reef. Schooner H.C. Richards foundered off Little Point Sable. Steamer Alexandria sunk in St. Lawrence river. Canadian steam yacht Sea Gull burned at Port Perry. Schooner G.W. Davis foundered near Point Maitland, Lake Erie.
November: Schooner Columbia sunk in Niagara river. Steamer Missoula foundered on Lake Superior. Canadian schooner Dauntless wrecked near Fort Gratiot. Tug Elk sunk by steamer Syracuse at Buffalo. Steamer Michael Groh totally wrecked off Pictured Rocks. Schooner Mattie Bell stranded at Big Summer island. Propeller J.M. Almendinger stranded and lost at Fox Point. Barge Nicholson stranded and lost near Lakeside, Lake Michigan.
December: Tug Wright sunk at Green Bay. Schooner Geo. W. Adams sunk by ice near Colchester. Tug Erwin sunk at Sandusky. Tug Roy sunk by ice on Lake Erie. Schooner Julia Willard sunk near Middle Sister island.
Statistics of Marine Losses. - The losses during the season of 1896 were confined almost exclusively to the old-time grade vessel. Hence it was a prosperous season for lake underwriters, as in most cases there was no insurance of any nature. The summary shows a total of 35 vessels with 21,425 net tons that passed out of existence, involving a money loss of $386,500. The list includes but one really valuable vessel, the Australasia, which was destroyed by fire on Lake Michigan in October. The City of Kalamazoo, a passenger steamer of 728 tons was burned at South Haven, November 30, but not totally destroyed.
Loss of the Ayer. – The schooner Mary D. Ayer collided on Lake Michigan, May 17 with the steamer Onoko during a dense fog. The schooner drifted some distance after the collision, and was taken in tow by the steamer City of Duluth. She was afterwards abandoned, and foundered with the loss of five lives.
Four Lives Lost. – In a heavy north gale the barge Sumatra, of 1,400 tons, in tow of the steamer B. W. Arnold, was disabled and foundered off Milwaukee. Two of the crew were rescued by the harbor tug and one by the life-saving crew. The remaining four of the crew perished.
The schooner Waukesha foundered at her anchorage off Muskegon, Nov. 7, in a heavy gale of wind, and became a total loss. Six of the crew of seven were lost. The Waukesha was of 600 net tons capacity.
Other Events of 1896. – April: Barge 104 sunk by collision with steamer Philip Minch at Lake St. Clair; afterwards raised. Tug Wisconsin foundered in Lake Erie; afterwards raised. Tug Peter Dalton sunk in Lake Huron. Canadian tug Eva destroyed by fire at Lindsay. May: Steamers L. C. Waldo and Choctaw collide at the Sault by which the latter was sunk; afterwards raised. Schooner Sunrise sunk by collision with barge 133 on Lake Michigan. Barge Transfer sunk at Lorain; after-wards raised. Barge Arthur sunk in St. Lawrence river. Steamer Grace Williams sunk in Lake Michigan.
June: Barge Mikado waterlogged off St. Joseph. Steamer Samuel T. Hodge burned and sunk near Oak Orchard. Schooner R. Canters stranded at Pilot island.
July: Capt. Hugh Chisholm died at Meaford, Ont.; he built the first center-board schooner on the lakes. Schooner Little Wissahickon foundered near Rondeau; Capt. George McKay and two of the crew drowned. Schooner Walbridge total wreck at Long Point. Steamer Samoa sunk in the St. Lawrence river; afterwards raised. Canadian steamer Maganetawan, of Collingwood, ran on a shoal near Byng inlet and went to pieces.
August: Schooner yacht Hawthorne sunk near Chicago by collision with the steamer Iowa; afterwards raised. Schooner Emeline, capsized near Death's Door, released. Steamer Ogden sunk at Duluth. Schooner Phineas S. Marsh foundered in Lake Superior; crew rescued by life-savers. Steamer Harvey Watson, burned at Holland, Mich., rebuilt. Schooner Granger driven ashore at Seul Choix Point, Lake Michigan, and became a total loss. Schooner City of the Straits burned at Ontonagon. Canadian tug James Clark burned at Owen Sound. Canadian tug Verbena May totally wrecked near Stokes bay. Canadian steamer Victoria foundered in Georgian Bay.
September: Schooner Colonel Ellsworth sunk at the Straits by collision with the Emily B. Maxwell. Schooner Bertha Winnie capsized in Lake Erie. Steamer Harry Cottrell foundered near Bar Point. Steamer Northland sunk at the dock at Duluth; afterwards raised. Schooner Wm. Crosthwaite sunk by collision with the passenger steamer City of Mackinac; after-wards raised. Barge Sovereign capsized in the Bay of Quinte. Schooner Sweepstakes stranded on Lake Erie; lost. Schooner Gilbert Knapp ashore at Good Harbor bay, Lake Michigan, and a total loss. Canadian steamer Baltic burned at Collingwood. Schooner J. R. Pelton stranded on Lake Erie; lost. Schooner David Macy sunk by collision on Lake Erie.
October: Propeller Loretta burned at Lorain. Steamer Grand Traverse sunk by collision with the Livingstone near Colchester. Schooner T. Y. Avery sunk at Chicago; afterwards raised. Steamer Mariska sunk at Buffalo; afterwards raised. Schooner Samuel P. Ely lost near Two Harbors. Steamer Australasia, of 2,200 net tons, burned on Lake Michigan. Schooner Transfer and steamer Alleghany stranded on Lake Michigan.
November: Tug L. B. Johnson capsized near Chicago. Steamer Wallula, driven ashore and burned near Conneaut, released. Schooner Brenton wrecked at Cleveland. Steamer B. W. Arnold burned and ashore near Salmon Trout river. Canadian steamer Acadia fatally stranded on Lake Superior. Schooner Success stranded on Lake Michigan. City of Kalamazoo burned at South Haven; rebuilt. December: Steamer L. R. Doty burned at Chicago; rebuilt.
Wreck of the Idaho. – The wreck of the steamer Idaho off Long Point, on the night of November 5, was the most serious disaster of 1897 on the Great Lakes. This is true as regards both the number of lives lost and the monetary loss. The vessel sank, and with her went down 19 of the 21 men who constituted the ship's company. The two survivors were Louis LaForce, second mate, and William Gill, a deck hand. The steamer herself was old, and was insured for not more than $10,000 or $15,000; but the amount of property aboard is estimated at from $75,000 to $100,000.
The Idaho left Buffalo with package freight for Milwaukee on the afternoon before the wreck. A November gale caught her before she reached Long Point. Her captain, Alexander Gillies, made the unfortunate decision to push on, leaving astern the safe shelter behind the Point. Twelve miles beyond Long Point the Idaho began to ship water, and part of the crew was ordered to the pumps. After a little while the water got into the engine room, and then in the fire hold. Then the captain attempted to head the steamer around to get back under Long Point. As she veered a great roller swept over her, throwing her into the trough of the sea and washing half a dozen of the crew off the deck into the lake.
All hands were at once ordered to the pumps except the watchman and a wheelman. One of the pumps broke, and the captain organized a line of fire buckets. Inch by inch, however, the water crept up until it was bubbling around the edge of the fires. In ten minutes the fires were quenched and the ship was at the absolute mercy of the sea.
All then went on deck to lower the anchors in the hope that the ship would right herself. While the men were giving more line to the port anchor the stern began to sink and every wave slopped over it. Suddenly the moon broke through the clouds and the crew got the first light they had seen since the engine fires were extinguished. Gill saw the captain running forward, when a wave swept him far from the ship and as it passed the clouds closed over the moon and the night was black again.
Gill and LaForce found themselves on the end of the deckhouse, and scrambled into the rigging as the Idaho went down. They scrambled to the crow's nest, and there the Mariposa found them in the morning.
While working at the pumps Gill and LaForce had stripped themselves to shirt and trousers, and there they clung, sprayed by every wave. Others of the crew tried to launch one of the small boats and were swamped with it. Looking about them Gill and LaForce saw that all their companions had been lost.
LaForce, who was above Gill, sighted a vessel just at daybreak and signaled frantically for it, but it steamed by, and LaForce temporarily went mad with despair. He beat his head against the mast, prayed, sang and threatened Gill, whose position was less secure, and who was lost if he let go with one hand. To add to their misery, hail began to fall and cut their faces.
It was past noon when the Mariposa came in sight. The men were too stiff to signal her. They saw the Mariposa change her course, and Captain Root bring her alongside. He lowered a small boat, but it was wrecked instantly. Three times he tried it. Finally he brought the Mariposa right up against the spar, and her crew lifted the men aboard. Gill was so cold that he could not unfasten his hands.
LaForce says he was in he hold when the stern began to sink. The crew made a frantic dash for the deck, and one of the men was trampled to death by his companions, madly eager to escape.
Resolutions adopted by the Buffalo Merchants Exchange, commending Capt. Frank Root of the Mariposa for his skill and courage in rescuing the two survivors, contained this paragraph: "In bringing a great steel steamer nearly 350 feet long, in such a heaving sea, alongside the spar to which the two unfortunate men were clinging for their lives with a skill and nicety which enabled the rescue to be successfully made. Captain Root and his officers and crew not only proved themselves possessed of the highest skill and discipline as seamen, but showed a courage, coolness and nerve which belong only to the truly brave. Their seamanship and their courage were both brought to a supreme test, and both proved unsurpassed." The owners of the Mariposa also commended Captain Root for his exploit, and thus gave precedence to humanity over the danger to which the steamer was necessarily subjected in approaching the sunken Idaho.
In a letter to Captain Root, President Mather of the Minnesota Steam-ship Company, owners of the Mariposa, said: "I wish to express to you, and through you to all your brave crew, my sincere appreciation of the unusually skillful seamanship, coolness, nerve and bravery displayed by you all in rescuing the two poor survivors of the Idaho, and to say further that notwithstanding the risk thereby involved to the safety of the steamer, your act has the hearty commendation of this company and of myself. In some recognition I wish you to give your first mate and your chief engineer an extra month's salary each, and to all the other members of your crew an extra half-month's salary each, for which draft is inclosed herewith; and as for yourself, will you please call at our office upon your arrival down and receive in person from us a testi-monial of our regard and esteem." When, in answer to this letter, Captain Root called at the office of Mr. Coulby, manager of the trans-portation department of the company, he was presented with a beautiful gold watch.
The Idaho was one of the oldest steam vessels on the lakes. She was built in 1863. A few years ago the Western Transit Company, which owned the boat, took her out of commission and she lay idle at Buffalo until a month or so before her loss. She was 220 feet long, with a net tonnage of 906. During the G. A. R. Encampment the Idaho was used by the naval veterans as a lodging place.
Safe to Sail the Lakes. - Not a single passenger was lost by accident during the season of navigation on the great lakes for 1897. 68 sailors lost their lives. This is about the average for the past two seasons. The only craft in disaster was the Idaho, lost on Lake Erie, when 19 lives were sacrificed. The remainder of the 68 were lost one at a time from accident. Falling into the hold caused the death of a dozen. Forty-six were drowned and three committed suicide. The season was remarkable for the large number of narrow escapes of crews from wrecked vessels, but the lifesaving crews everywhere made daring rescues.
Vessel Earnings in 1897. - Instead of having to make good a deficit vessel owners found a balance to their credit. It was not large, but under the circumstances a little is as good as a feast. One local owner figures that his property earned at least 5 per cent. on its insurance valuation, or about 10 per cent. on what he considers its actual market value at present, although there is apparently no market for it. Another owner claims that the earnings of vessels of 2,500 tons carrying capacity have been about 3 per cent. on their insurance valuation, or 6 per cent. on a supposititious market value. And this he considers a fair result for one of the most unsatisfactory seasons ever experienced on the lakes. In regard to the steel steamers and towbarges carrying anywhere from 4,500 to 6,000 tons it is learned from outside sources that they have earned about 6 per cent. upon the capital invested in them. While this is not a satisfactory return by any means, it is sufficient to demonstrate their superiority as money makers in ordinary seasons, and serves to explain why only vessels of this description are now being placed under contract at all of the large ship-building plants on the lakes. True, there will always be a good demand for medium-sized carriers, but the presence of these leviathans in a competitive market will tend to keep freight rates down to such a low notch throughout future seasons that they can no longer be looked upon as gilt-edged property. So firmly, in fact, has this belief become fixed in the minds of the most discerning owners that some of them have recently expressed a willingness to dispose of their holdings at a heavy sacrifice in order that they be enabled to put the proceeds into great carriers such as are now being rapidly introduced.
Wreck of the Pewabic Found. - The wreck of the long-lost steamer Pewabic was located after a casual search extending over thirty years. The wreck was found by a wrecking expedition from Milwaukee in the steamer H. A. Root. It lies six miles southeast from Thunder Bay island, Lake Huron, in 27 fathoms of water, and is in the regular course of steamers, on almost an even keel. The upper works are entirely gone, but portions of the bulwarks are standing, and the main deck appears to be intact. The American Wrecking and Salvage Co., of Milwaukee, under a contract with the underwriters, worked for the recovery of the wreck and cargo, consisting largely of copper in barrels, recovering copper to the value of $7,000. For several years from one to four expeditions had been sent out to locate the Pewabic, and several lives have been lost in the search. There was always a belief that the safe of the steamer contained a large amount of money. The Pewabic was lost by collision with the steamer Meteor in 1865.
Losses of vessels from 1890 to 1897 are shown in the following table:
|YEAR||NO. OF VESSELS||CAPACITY||VALUE|
Other Events of 1807. - April: Steamer Massena, sunk near Maitland, raised. Schooner I. M. Forest stranded at Pentwater. Schooner C. N. Ryan stranded at Ludington; crew saved with difficulty. Schooner Wollin wrecked off Sheboygan. Schooner Lookout wrecked near Two Rivers. Steamer Florida sunk by collision with the steamer George W. Roby between Middle island and Presque Isle. Steamer Lewis Shickluna sunk off Long Point by collision with the steamer Tecumseh. Schooner Coral sunk near Death's Door.
June: Canadian Pacific car-ferry steamer Southeastern burned at Prescott. Tug Wells sunk by collision with the Monohansett at Ballard's Reef. Schooner Sunshine sunk in the Soo river by collision with the rocks; afterwards raised. Excursion steamer Periwinkle burned at Toledo.
July: Steamers Mariposa and Selwyn Eddy collided off Manitou island during a dense fog, causing serious damage to both vessels, the former being cut to the water's edge. Schooner F. M. Smith fatally stranded at South Haven. Tug J. W. Eviston burned at Duluth.
August: Schooner Emma Banner capsized in Lake Michigan.
September: Schooner Henry A. Kent, iron ore laden, spring a leak during a gale, and foundered eight miles off Standard Rock; crew saved with difficulty by towing steamer J. C. Gilchrist. Schooner Alert wrecked at St. Joseph. Steamer C. B. Wallace burned at Toledo.
October: Schooner Antelope, coal laden, foundered off Michigan island; crew saved by towing steamer H. W. Sibley. Schooner Ella Stevenson foundered 40 miles off Holland; crew reached shore in lifeboat. Schooner Kate Winslow, with pig iron, broke from towing steamer and foundered near Seul Choix Point. Schooner F. W. Gifford foundered on Lake Michigan. Steamer E. B. Hale foundered in Saginaw bay. Schooner Presto fatally wrecked at Sand Beach. Schooner Nellie Hammond stranded at White Lake Harbor. Tug C. W. Wells burned at Amherstburg. Tug Com. Jack Berry burned at Duluth.
November: Schooner Groton foundered at anchor 12 miles west of Port Stanley; crew rescued with difficulty. Steamer Dove burned at Toledo. Steamer Nahant burned at Escanaba. Tug E. G. Ashley burned at Toledo. December: Schooner Joseph Paige wrecked 12 miles west of Whitefish Point. Steamer Rosedale driven ashore on East Charity shoals; abandoned to underwriters. Steamer Egyptian burned on Lake Huron. Schooner J. G. Masten stranded at Two Rivers. Steamer G. W. Morley burned at Chicago. Schooner Mishicott stranded at South Haven. Tug Fishing Queen foundered in Lake Erie.
The Mild Winter of 1897-98. - Capt. Tony Everett, who is the oldest master sailing out of Chicago in point of years of service, said the Marine Review in February, 1898, shipped for the first time from that port in 1848, has been a master since 1856, and he is still at the business. Captain Everett says this winter beats anything in his 50-years’ experience on the chain of lakes. “I have been all over ‘em, up and down and back again,” said Captain Everett, “but I never before saw a winter as open as this one at this time of the year. I never knew the St. Clair river to be open in the latter end of January. Of course there is ice in the lake, lots of it; but the winds keep it off shore and we don’t see much of it. But the lake could be sailed all winter if we had the insurance. I remember one very bad winter, that of 1862, when a fleet of schooners was frozen in for months in Lake Erie. The Badger State was one of them, and the crew had to live on oats and corn all winter. They were loaded with grain, and when the provisions ran out they had to tackle the cargo. That was a bad winter. The ice was so thick they couldn’t move, and it was not solid all the way in, so they couldn’t go ashore if they wanted to; so they had to stay aboard and eat oats until the ice broke up.
“I have seen the 36 miles of St. Clair river open until Christmas, but it usually freezes up and sticks that way about that time. This winter we have wonderful fine weather.”
From the Lakes to the Atlantic. - One of the most notable events of the season was the chartering of about forty of the old-time vessels for service on the seaboard. The Atlantic Transportation Company, of New York, was the principal charterer of the craft. The vessels, it was stated, were intended largely for the coast wise trade; especially from Newport News. The Atlantic Transportation Company had said that when it wanted tonnage, additional to that which it controlled, the carrying rate was forced sharply upward, and it was to prevent this increased cost of transportation that the large chartering of lake vessels was made. The chartering began early in September, and before the close of the season most of the vessels had reached the seaboard, though a few were detained by insufficient water in the St. Lawrence canals. The Marine Review, in its issue of September 22, presented this list of lake vessels chartered to the Atlantic Transportation Company:
|Parker, Thos. L.||1,200||20,000|
|Ash, Annie M.||2,500||46,000|
The carrying capacity of this fleet is estimated at more than 1,250,000 tons for the season, and the withdrawal had an immediate strengthening effect upon freights that were affected by this tonnage.
Largest Vessels on the Lakes. - There was launched at the Wheeler shipyard at West Bay City this season the largest freighter on the Great Lakes, the steel propeller Samuel F.B. Morse, owned by the Bessemer Steamship Company. She started for Duluth for her first cargo in August. The Morse is 476 feet over all, 456 feet keel, 50 feet beam and 29 feet depth. Engines are of the quadruple expansion type, with cylinders of 26-1/2, 37, 54-1/2 and 89 inches diameter, and a common stroke of 42 inches. There are four Scotch boilers, each of 13 feet 4 inches diameter and 11 feet 6 inches length, and allowed 200 pounds working pressure. The vessel has fourteen hatches, two smoke stacks and two steel masts. Probably the most distinctive characteristic of the vessel is the exceptionally heavy construction throughout. Her displacement on a draught of 17 feet will be 10,500 tons. She was built to move 6,000 gross tons on the present Lake Superior draught, and she had done that. She was not built with a view to putting into her every ton of cargo that could possibly be moved in a hull of her dimensions. She was intended to tow a steel barge, the largest on the lakes, and probably two such barges, and the indications are that she will eventually tow two big barges at a rapid rate. On her second trip to Lake Superior with a towing wheel she made 14-1/2 miles for a time, going up light, and when returning with ore she made 13-1/2 miles all the way down. The chief engineer of the line was of the opinion, he said, that with another wheel suited to fast running the Morse would attain a speed of 17 miles.
The Bessemer Steamship Company has contracted for a propeller to duplicate the Morse, also for a barge to be 465 feet in length, or 10 feet longer than the Roebling, the present largest barge.
Heavy Marine Losses. - An unusually large number of losses occurred on the lakes during the season of 1898. The loss to the underwriters is estimated at $2,600,000, and the season is said to have been the most disastrous in the history of the lakes. The number of boats which passed out of existence was 58, with an aggregate tonnage of 29,194 tons. Total and partial losses amounted to 569, and the causes assigned were as follows: Ashore, 123; aground in protected channels, 126; fire, 40; collisions, 90; ice, 16; storm-beaten, 96; foundered, 8; miscellaneous causes, 116.
Severe Storms. - There were three severe storms late in the season. The first began October 25 and continued 36 hours. The second occurred November 9, and the third November 18.
Loss of the Doty. - The most disastrous event of the season, in loss of life, was the foundering of the steamer L.R. Doty, on Lake Michigan, with her entire crew of 17. The Doty left Chicago, Monday, October 24, with the Olive Jeanette in tow, both loaded with corn, for Midland, Georgian Bay. They encountered a furious gale the following day. The towline parted, and the manner of her loss remains unknown. Indications were that she drifted a considerable distance before she went down in midlake. Her wreckage was picked up 25 miles off Kenosha. The Jeanette was sighted on the 27th and towed to Chicago, in a crippled condition. The Doty was a stanch wooden propeller, built at West Bay City, in 1893. She was in command of Capt. Christopher Smith. The crew of the Jeanette could throw no light on the fate of the Doty. The vessels were struck by the northeast gale on Monday, when below Milwaukee. Tuesday afternoon the steamer parted from her consort.
Forecaster Cox, of the Chicago weather bureau, says the storm was not at all remarkable for the violence or the continuance of the wind, and yet it was remarkable for the damage it did on sea and land. He accounts for this by the fact that the storm center moved so rapidly across the lake, so that there was not only the gyratory force of the cyclone but a rectilinear motion to the northeast. It was this combination of forces, he says, which lashed Lake Michigan into fury and produced such devastating effects on the lake and on the shore. Chicago, he says, had a wind, August 16, that blew seventy-two miles an hour. Tuesday, October 25, the greatest velocity was forty-eight miles, and that only from 7:50 to 8:15 P. M.
Loss of the Thol and Other Vessels. – during a fierce gale November 10, the schooner S. Thol, laden with Christmas trees for Chicago went down off Glencoe with all on board, a crew of five men. During the same storm the schooner Iron Cliff sank off Chicago harbor. Her crew of seven men were with great difficulty rescued by the Chicago life-saving crew. The schooner Sophia J. Luff was waterlogged off Gross Point, and the schooner Lena M. Neilson went ashore at Lakeside, Mich. The schooner Fossett was stranded at Sand Beach, Lake Huron, and the schooner Minnehaha was broken up at Sheboygan.
Wreck of the St. Peter. – The Canadian schooner St. Peter, bound from Oswego to Toledo with coal, sank about five miles northwest of Sodus, on Lake Ontario, October 27. She had shown signs of distress and the tug Proctor started to her assistance. When a mile away the crew of the tug saw the distressed vessel sink. The crew of nine all perished except Captain John Griffin, who was picked up in an unconscious condition.
Foundering of the Churchill. – The schooner Churchill, laden with ore, foundered off Waukegan October 13 during a fierce gale. She was in tow of the propeller Majestic. The lines parted, and the crew of the schooner had just taken to the yawl when the vessel went down. Captain Cain sank with the ship and another seaman was lost. The Majestic picked up the remaining members of the crew, five in number.
Good Year for Lake Craft. – A striking feature of the year was the enormous volume of traffic and the moderate margin of profits, considering the heavy business. It is estimated that average earnings of 4 to 5 per cent. were paid. A few vessels faced an actual loss. On the largest and best managed there was a net profit of about 10 per cent. During the earlier part of the season carrying charges reached the lowest point in the history of the lake marine. For a long stretch corn has been carried from Chicago to Buffalo at three-quarters of a cent, and even touched five-eighths. Ships went begging for cargoes, and yet nearly all were kept in service. Finally, along in August, a boom began, which continued until the middle of October, when the high-water mark in all important lines of commerce was reached. Corn went to 3-1/2 cents, iron ore to $1, and coal to 50 cents. Vessels were then making big money every trip, but November was not old before the boom collapsed, and vessel men went hunting for cargoes again. At the close of the season vessel men were more hopeful of profitable business for the next year than they have been at any close of navigation for three years past. They base their hopes upon the enormous sales of rails and other steel products for 1899 delivery. The consumption of ore for 1899, it is almost assured, will reach the greatest proportions ever known.
Large Cargoes. – In 1898 the propeller Superior City, loaded at South Chicago a cargo of 266,500 bushels of corn, weighing 7,463 net tons, on a draft of 18 feet 2 inches. The same vessel carried from Escanaba to South Chicago 6,823 gross tons, or 7,642 net tons, of iron ore. On 16 feet of water the schooner Polynesia carried from Cleveland to Duluth 5,654 net tons of bituminous coal. The propeller Siemens, with two barges in tow, carried 17,000 tons of ore to Lake Erie. The Maruba and her tow, the barges Martha and Constitution, carried 15,000 tons. The lake carriers expect that soon a propeller and her tow will be able to transport in one trip 20,000 tons of ore.
Caught in the Ice. – The close of the season of 1898 was made memorable by the imprisonment of many vessels in the ice at the head of Lake Erie about December 10. A fleet of 35 boats was ice-bound, but by the aid of ferries and tugs from Detroit, a shifting of the wind and warmer weather the vessels gradually got away.
Other Events of 1898. – The iron ore shipments by lake for 1898 were 13,650,788 gross tons, the largest traffic ever known. Cargoes of 7,000 tons were a feature of the year, and account for the low freights. The opening of the Canada-Atlantic line from Chicago and Duluth to Georgian Bay dampens the hopes of an extensive grain trade to Montreal when the St. Lawrence canals are completed in 1899. All-rail routes made a contest for the grain trade to the seaboard, and were not altogether unsuccessful. There were rafted to the Saginaw river this season from the Georgian Bay 154,997,171 feet of pine logs. In 1897 the quantity received at Saginaw was 147,280,000 feet of saw logs. The number of vessels totally lost was greater than for many years past. Receipts of grain and flour at Buffalo surpassed those of any previous year. The Canadian authorities expect to have the enlargement of the Galops, Morrisburg, Farrans Point, Cornwall and Soulanges canals completed by about midsummer 1899, so as to be able to pass vessels of 2,000 tons through from the lakes to the sea. Two United States revenue cutters, the Gresham and the Algonquin, started for the seaboard in June to join the auxiliary naval fleet. The Algonquin was built at Cleveland in 1898, the Gresham in 1897. The latter was cut in two and one half sank at Ogdensburg. The vitality of the wooden vessel ship-building industry was exemplified by the building of four large wooden freighters at the Davidson yards at West Bay City during the winter of 1897-98 and the spring of 1898. These vessels, however, are not in active demand. April: Steamer Servia, loaded with corn, from Duluth for Kingston, burned about 30 miles west of Whitefish Point, Lake Superior; for 9 hours the crew ineffectually fought the fire; she was then abandoned and sank. Steamer Maine burned at Buffalo; raised. Schooner Northwest sunk by ice in Straits. Propeller J. H. Outhwaite and schooner H. A. Barr ashore on False Presque Isle; afterwards released. May: Tug Agnes Arnold burned in Green bay.
June: The Canadian steamer Tecumseh struck on Ripley's rock, at Marquette, and sank. Tug Record sunk at Duluth, drowning three of the crew; she was afterwards raised. Steamer Sakie Shepherd burned at St. Clair. Barge American burned at St. Clair.
July: Schooner S. B. Paige ashore, Green bay; total loss.
August: Schooner Dan Hayes sunk, 10 miles north of Milwaukee. Steamer Superior went to pieces on Gull island, Lake Michigan; she was loaded with ore from Escanaba for Toledo. Tug R. F. Goodman burned, Lake Superior. Schooner F. A. Fitch ashore and lost, Lake Michigan. September: The tug Ira O. Smith burned and sank, near Lake View crib, Chicago. Propeller Maud Preston burned, near Toledo. Schooner J. H. Mead ashore, Keweenaw Point. Schooner Mediator ashore, Keweenaw Point. Propeller Colorado ashore, Keweenaw Point. Schooner R. Winslow foundered in Straits. Steamer Tourist burned, St. Joseph. Schooner Forrester ashore and lost at Sanilac. Steamer Wenona ashore and lost at Portage. Schooner Keepsake foundered, Lake Erie. Canadian schooner Jonas sunk by collision, Georgian Bay. Steamer Keystone burned, Lake Michigan. Steamer Queen of the Lakes burned, South Manitou. Schooner Southwest ashore and lost, Lake Superior. Schooner Monitor sunk in St. Mary's river. Steamer Toledo wrecked at Portage.
October: Schooner Barbarian abandoned off Milwaukee. Schooner A. J. Rogers ashore and lost on Lake Michigan. Canadian schooner Augusta sunk on Lake Ontario with crew of 7 men. Tug Leo wrecked at Milwaukee. The Canadian tug Walker sunk near Nicholson's island, Lake Ontario, and her barges, the Kildonan and Hector, coal laden, were beached above Wellington. Schooner Ed. Blake burned on Lake Huron. Schooner L. B. Shephard, lumber-laden, capsized in Lake Michigan. Tug Rebel foundered on Lake Superior. Schooner C. P. Minch ashore at Pier Cove, Georgian Bay. Propeller H. A. Tuttle total loss, Michigan City. Propeller Republic ashore near Alpena. Schooner Aloha abandoned off Chicago. Schooner D. L. Filer abandoned off Racine. Steamer E. F. Gould lost near Oscoda. Schooner George Steele broken up near Oscoda. Propeller Henry Chisholm wrecked, Lake Superior. Schooner Bavaria ashore and lost, Georgian Bay. Schooner A. Dall ashore and lost, Lake Michigan. November: Passenger steamer Pacific burned at Collingwood, Ontario. Schooner Aberdeen beached at Grand Haven. Schooner D. S. Austin wrecked near Ludington. Canadian steamer Northern Bell destroyed by fire on Lake Huron. Propeller Lloyd S. Porter sunk below Quebec, while on her way to the sea. Schooner Iron Cliff wrecked off Chicago. Schooner Minnehaha lost at Sheboygan. Propeller Tampa a total loss at Beaver bay, Lake Superior. Propeller Arthur Orr abandoned, Lake Superior. Schooner N. C. West wrecked by collison, St. Clair river. Schooner L. M. Neilson ashore and wrecked, Lake Michigan. Barge 104 sunk on Lake Erie. Schooner C. Harrison ashore, Sturgeon bay. Steamer Corona burned at Tonawanda. Steamer H. W. Sibley wrecked on Lake Erie. Schooner Maria Anetta ashore on Lake Ontario. Steamer St. Lawrence ashore, Point Betsey. Steamer Harlem ashore on Isle Royale.
December: Steamer Aurora, with wheat cargo, burned to water's edge while plowing through Lake Erie ice. Tug George B. McClellan burned, Michigan City. Tug Swain burned St. Mary's river. This year witnessed the arrival from Denmark, on the Great Lakes of the sailing yacht Dove (Duen), owned by Countess Schimmelman. The Countess fearlessly crossed the Atlantic in her little vessel in order to extend the philanthropic work (toward which she has humanely consecrated her life and fortune) among all classes, chiefly, however, among the sailors and others employed about the lakes. The Dove arrived in Chicago in the fall of 1898, and is wintering there.