Month: June 2017


On 29 June 1902, GEORGE DUNBAR (wooden propeller freighter, 134 foot, 238 gross tons, built in 1867, at Allegan, Michigan) was loaded with coal when she was damaged by a sudden squall on Lake Erie near Kelley’s Island and sank. Seven of the crew elected to stay aboard while the skipper, his wife and daughter made for shore in the lifeboat. Those three were saved but the seven perished on a makeshift raft


Location: 8 miles NE of Kelleys Island
Coordinates: LORAN:  43729.6  57076.4
GPS: 41 40.631     82 33.893
Lies: bow southeast                                      Depth: 45 feet
Type: propeller                                            Cargo: Coal
Official #: 10890
Power: steam engine
Owner(s) Saginaw Bay Transportation Company
Built: 1867 in Allegan, Michigan by A.  McMillan
Dimensions: 133.5’  x  25.3’  x  9.1’          Tonnage: 238 gross  190 net
Date of Loss: Sunday, June 29, 1902
Cause of Loss: sprung a leak in storm

The Dunbar lies in the mud at a depth of 45 feet.  The most remarkable features of the wreck are her windlass and donkey boiler.  Her stack lies approximately forty feet off her stern on the port side.  The name board of the Dunbarwashed up on Kelleys Island and is now on display at the Great Lakes Historical Society Museum, Vermilion, Ohio.  The Historical Society also displays side scan images of this site in their Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center.

Steamer GEORGE DUNBAR Founders Off Kelley’s Island
Captain John Little, His Wife and Daughter Are the Only Ones Rescued.
Terrible Struggle of the Rescued to Reach The Shore.
Myron Tuttle, Cleveland
Engineer, Johnson, Buffalo
Wheelaman, Eck, Sheboygan
Fireman, Charles Washie
Three unknown sailors
In all probibility, the above named persons, seven in all, were drowned about 6 o’clock Sunday morning when the steamer, GEORGE DUNBAR foundered about ten miles off the northeast shore of Kelleys Island. It was reported that they had succeeded in reaching Put-In-Bay on a life raft, but reports early Monday morning had indicated they had not been heard from.
The captain, John Little, and his wife and daughter, succeeded in reaching Kelleys Island in a yawl after a terrible battle with the waves. When some distance off the shore their little craft capsized. They had on life preservers and managed to keep afloat. They were almost exhausted, but at a late hour last night were reported out of danger.
Dilligent search Sunday afternoon by a number of vessels failed to reveal the slightest trace of the seven missing men, and there is little doubt but what they all met watery graves. The steamer DESMOND and the launches, QUEEN and BEATRICE, the latter owned by John A. Heinmelein, were out and made a search for the sailors, but nothing to indicate that they reached the shore in safety was found.
The DUNBAR was of that class of vessels known as propellors. She was owned by her Captain, John Little, and hails from Port Huron, Michigan, Captain Little’s home. She left Cleveland about 6 o’clock Saturday night with a load of coal and was bound for Alpena, Michigan. She encountered terrible seas all the way, and soon began to leak. When off Kelleys Island, she was settling, and about 6 o’clock in the morning was at the mercy of the waves. She was sinking fast and the captain and the crew held a consultation. It was decided by the brave sailors that the first chance for life would be given to Captain Little, his wife and daughter. The men got down the only yawl from the davits, and soon had her ready for launching. Awaiting the opportune moment, the little boat with the three abord, started out on her perilous journey for the shore. The seas were terrible, every one threatening to engulf the little craft. Time and time again it seemed the little craft would not live another moment, but she was a well built boat and rode the seas well until a point near the beach was reached. Then an unusually large, roller was enouuntered and the captain, his wife and daughter were thrown out and the little boat turned completely over. They all had on life preservers and by these managed to keep afloat and stayed together. They were seen by the residents on the island and rescued.
Meantime the poor sailors were huddled on the lee side of the vessel watching the perilous course of the captain’s boat. When she capsized they decided to risk their chances and make for the shore. It was sure death to remain on the Dunbar, and there was only a ghost of a show to fight their way on life rafts to land. They put out, one after another and were soon lost from one another’s view. The last seen of any one of them was the apparent lifeless body still clinging in a death grip to a board. There was absolutely no chance for the men and they were almost with out a doubt now at the bottom of the lake.
This is the third disaster thus far this year. The schooners GRACE GRIBBLE and BARKALOW foundered in April and three lives were lost in each case.
The part of the lake in the vicinity of the islands is particularly dangerous to navigators. The life saving station at Marblehead is stationed at a particularly dangerous place and time
and time again, as is shown by the reports of the life saving department, vessels have been warned to keep off the shore.
In this instance, however, the life savers at Marblehead knew nothing of the sinking of the DUNBAR until about 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon — too late to aid in rescuing the crew.
Communication with Put-In-Bay was very difficult, but so far as is known, nothing has been heard of the seven sailors.
Sandusky Register
Monday, June 30, 1902

(Follow-up story, The Rescue of the Little Family) in the July 1, 1902 issue of the Register) (Story of the finding of 2 bodies in the July 2, 1902 issue of the Register)

. . . . .

Sandusky, June 29. — Six of the crew of the steamer GEORGE DUNBAR are thought to have been drowned in the foundering of the vessel early this morning in a terrible gale. The steamer was en route from Cleveland to Alpena with coal when she sprung a leak and sank at 4 a.m.
She was built in 1867, measured 135 x 25 and was owned by Capt. Little. She formerly ran in the lumber trade between Green Bay and Chicago. The vessel went down in deep water and there will probably be no attempt to raise her.
Chicago Inter Ocean
June 30, 1903

Has Been Located By Assistant Engineer, William T. Blunt.
It Is A Question Whether the Vessel Is In U. S. Or Canadian Waters
The wreck of the steamer George Dunbar which sank on the morning of June 29, has been located by United States Assistant Engineer, William T. Blunt, on the steamer VISITOR by direction of Major Dan. C. Kingnian, corps of engineers, U. S. A. The location by the owners was so far from correct that a search in that vicinity failed to discover the vessel. The first reliable information which reached the authorities came from Captain 5. 0. Iobinson of the C & T steamer, STATE OF NEW YORK and the description given by him was found to be closely correct.
The vessel lies on an even keel, heading ESE in 44 feet of water. E by ½ S, 5½ miles from Middle Island lighthouse, and exactly east from the Middle Island passage. It is almost exactly on the range of Nun bouy on the north east corner of Kelleys Island Reef and the extreme north east point of Kelleys Island. It is N ¼ W from Huron lighthouse and N E by N ¾ N from the red gas buoy at the entrance to Sandusky Harbor, direcly on the course to North East Shoal lightship. It is but 2 miles northerly from the sailing course between Cleveland and Middle Island passage. It is, therefore a menace to navigation in thick weather to vessels passing between Sandusky and South East Shoal Light-ship or between Cleveland and Middle Island passage.
It may be plotted on the chart 4,300 feet north of parallel 41 degrees, 40 minutes, and 4,000 feet east of meridian 82 degrees, 35 minutes.
On July 18, the foremast was still standing with an association flag attached and the wreckage of the pilot house was floating, still attached to the wreck.
A floating buoy carrying a large red flag was placed about 300 feet south of the wreck, should the spar be carried away. The location of the vessel is so close to the international boundry that it is not certain whether it is in the United States or Canadian waters.
Sandusky Register
Monday, July 21, 1902

The wreck of the steamer GEORGE DUNBAR which constituted an obstruction at the northeast end of Kelley’s island, Lake Erie, has been blown up.
Port Huron Daily Times
Monday, October 20, 1902

Steam screw GEORGE DUNBAR. U. S. No. 6496. Of 220.99 toms gross; 138.58 tons net. Built Allegan, Mich., 1866. Home port, Chicago, Ill. 133.5 x 25.2 x 9.1.
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

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Categories: Boat Dive Beginners Lake Eire



46.6444546.64445-84.80805 46° 38.667′ N84° 48.483′ W 46° 38′ 40.02” N84° 48′ 28.98” W
1916 JAMES J. HILL collided with the wooden steamer PANTHER in fog off Parisienne Island, Lake Superior and held its position so all of the crew could come safely aboard before their ship sank.
Dive site info with wreck pictures
Other names : noneOfficial no. : C138004Type at loss : propeller, wood, bulk freightBuild info : 1890, Jas. Davidson, W. Bay City, MI hull# 35 US# 150497Specs : 237x36x19, 1373gc 1118ncDate of loss : 1916, Jun 27Place of loss : off Whitefish PointLake : SuperiorType of loss : collisionLoss of life : noneCarrying : grainDetail : She was rammed in dense fog by the steamer JAMES J HILL, which was kept running into the hole until PANTHER’s crew clambered aboard. She sank quickly when HILL backed away.Date also given as 6/26.Wreck located in 1975.Sold Canadian, 1916

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Categories: General Nonsense


Name of Wreck:      O.W. Cheney Organizing Group:  Niagara Divers’ Association Official Number:     155034 Nation of Registry:  US CYear Built:      1881  Built At:          Cleveland, Ohio Built By:         Great Lakes Towing Company Vessel Type:    Wooden tug Length:        66′ Beam:          16′ Draft:           9.8′ Gross Tonnage:  463.4NM/94.7T Point Albino Lighthouse, 5.5NM/245.4T Buffalo.    G.P.S 42-50.251/79-00.477

Propeller CHEMUNG Crashes Into Tug CHENEY in the Lake During a heavy Sea and Sinks her.
– – – – –
An awful accident occurred on Lake Erie when the big freighter CHEMUNG of the Erie Line crashed into the tug O. W. CHENEY at a point somewhere between Buffalo and Point Abino about 2:45 o’clock this morning. Three of the crew of the tug, including Capt. John F. Whelan, were drowned and two escaped on the life raft. They were picked up a few minutes later by the tug FRANK S. BUTLER and brought into port, when the story of the accident was told. The CHENEY was sunk.
Just how the accident occurred is not definitely known. Capt. Whelan was the oldest tugman in Buffalo and had 30 years experience. It is not reasonable therefore, to suppose the collision was due to his carelessness of inefficiency. Capt. F. B. Huyck of the CHEMUNG says his steamer was traveling perhaps 11 or 12 miles an hour and that it appeared to him as though whoever was steering the CHENEY had misjudged the distance and cut directly in front of the freighter while intending to go to one side.
The crew of the CHENEY consisted of Capt. Whelan; Engineer James T. Byers of 708 West Avenue; fireman Dugan. Andrew Fritzenschaf, the steward, and. John McManus, as recorded on the books of the Great Lakes Towing Company which owned the CHENEY. McManus got ashore with engineer Byers.
It is the custom of tug captains to take their boats out just beyond the breakwater at night and await signals from steamers coming into port. There was a rather heavy sea rolling last night, and it was raining lightly. There was no fog to speak of. The CHENEY and the BUTLER were near each other, cruising around when the lights of the CHEMUNG were sighted. Both tugs started for her. It was rough going. The seas tossed the little tug boats about like playthings. Eventually the CHENEY reached the CHEMUNG on her port side. The tug was hardly distinguishable from any distance for the darkness was intensified by the heavy rain clouds which hung over the lake.
The CHENEY started to turn toward the freighter. She was tossed about in the trough of the sea but held her own and the men in the wheelhouse of the CHEMUNG thought all was well until the crash came. A wild shout rang out from the CHENEY just as the boats collided. The crew of the CHEMUNG got forward with all possible speed but the CHENEY was sinking swiftly. Two of the CHEMUNG’s crew who were well forward say the tug sank in a few minutes.
Tug Struck Amidships.
It is believed the CHENEY was struck just about amidships. Capt. Whelan is said to have been in the wheelhouse. Dugan and Fritzenschaf were asleep below. They probably had no chance to get out of their bunks. It is believed their bodies will be recovered if the wreck is located. There is some doubt expressed about the recovery of Capt. Whelan’s body. He was an expert swimmer and a man who would fight to the last. The belief was expressed on the docks this morning that Capt. Whelan had been struck by the wheel of the tug, perhaps, or otherwise injured with the crash.
“If he had half a chance,” said a tug captain this morning. “he’d kept up until help, came. If they ever find his body they’ll find, to, I think that, he was hurt.”
Rescued Men on Raft.
Engineer Byers and the fireman who was on duty managed to get hold of one of the life rafts on the tug. They were buffeted around by the waves but the tug BUTLER was not far away when the accident happened. The captain made straight for the spot and was just in time to save the two men on the raft.
It was hoped that Capt. Whelan, Dugan or Fritzenschaf had been fortunate enough to get hold of something to float them, so the BUTLER cruised around in the immediate vicinity, the crew shouting out to learn whether there were any more alive who might be rescued. No answers came to their calls, and they gave up the search and ran into Buffalo, where the rescued men were cared for.
Capt. Whelan was not only the oldest tugman in Buffalo river, but was well known all over the Great. Lakes and for many years was captain of the big steel tug DUMBAR. He was the father of eight grown-up children and leaves a wife, who collapsed when she heard the news. Patrolman Arthur J. Whelan is one of the sons. He was at the foot of Main street this morning arranging to make a search for his father’s body.
“We will spare no effort to find it,” said he. “I think if we can locate the wreck it will be comparatively easy to find the body.”
Capt. Whelan was highly thought of by his employers and was esteemed by all his associates. He had a reputation for being fearless, but always careful and prudent.
0. W. Johnson, superintendent of the Buffalo fleet of the Great Lakes Towing Company, said this morning the accident was the first of a serious nature that the company had since entering the Buffalo field.
“It is regrettable,” he said, “that lives were lost. Capt. Whelan was, a competent, trustworthy commander, and probably no man in this part of the country was more skillful in handling a tug.”
Dugan, the fireman who was drowned, was a somewhat remarkable young man. For two years he was employed in the office of the Great Lakes Towing Company as a bookkeeper. Recently he determined upon making more money and acquiring better health by firing on a tug. He joined the Tugmen’s Union and started in. He lived at 25 Herkimer street and was well thought of. He was one of the most popular young men around the docks, and was always pointed out as the one who preferred to fire on a tug than keep books.
Dugan was ambitious and had only recently passed a civil service examination for a position in the postoffice.
He intended leaving the tug business in the near future. He was not married
Fritzenschaf’s Wife at Dock.
Fritzenschaf, who was cook and steward on the boat, was married. His wife was at the docks near the foot of Main street this morning waiting anxiously for some more definite information than, had reached her up to that time. She knew her husband was dead but she wanted details. A story arose that Fritzenschaf had considerable money with him. He was to have paid several grocery bills with it, so the story goes. Mrs. Fritzenachaf said she understood he had the money when he left port and (hat the bills were unpaid. Just how much he had is not known. Fritzenschaf was 55 years old and had lived in Buffalo all his life. He had been on the lakes several years. His son, Charles, was drowned while in swimming at Ashtabula two years ago. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, Mrs. P. J. Kearney and Mrs. William Beyer.
Engineer Byers made a statement this morning in which he says he heard Capt. Whelan groaning after he got in the water. This bears out the supposition that he was injured before going overboard. Byers was in the engine room, attending to his duties when he heard the signal bell begin to jingle rapidly.
Engineer Byers Story.
“The crash came just after that,” said he. “We were tossing around pretty rough. I got out someway to the raft. I yelled to the captain or to anyone who was near. There wasn’t time to do much. I heard Capt. Whelan groaning after he got in the water and I tried to get to him with the raft but it was no use. We were thrown around and out of reach in a second.”
When asked for a version of how the accident occurred, Byers said he was not in a position to say what went on outside. “I was in the engine room awaiting signals,” he explained. “I couldn’t tell what was going on any place else. I know we were tossing around a good deal.”
There are many ways in which the accident might have occurred. In the first place the CHENEY and the BUTLER were racing to the CHEMUNG for the tow. It was a case of all steam ahead. The BUTLER came about first in order to get close to the freighter and the CHENEY followed. It may be a significant fact that the CHENEY was fitted with a hand steering gear.. There is a possibility that the wheel got away from Capt. Whelan. Such things have occurred. If a big wave struck the rudder under certain conditions and the captain was, for instance, looking out the door of the pilot house, to see how close he was to the freighter, the chances are, the wheel would be wrenched from him and the tug might go in the direction just opposite to that he desired. There are other ways in which the steering gear might have become unmanageable at a critical time. A cable might have broken, for instance.
If the tug is raised it will be apparent just what happened, if there was anything out of the ordinary.
It is said the accident may have a tendency to stop the racing of tugs by the rival towing companies. The CHENEY was the property of the Great Lakes Company. The BUTLER belongs to the Independent Company. Tugs of each company lie in wait outside the break water for signs of a possible tow and then they race for it. The practice is condemned by marine men in general and it is said the accident of this morning may mean the abandoning of it.
The Mate’s Story.
The CHEMUNG is unloading freight at the Lackawanna’s docks near the foot of Main Street. There are practically no signs of the collision about her except a slight marring of the timbers in her bow. The mate of the CHEMUNG said this morning: “We were well past Point Abino when we say the lights of two tugs coming toward us. The first time we saw the CHENEY she was off our port side. She was coming about and we thought everything was all right until she seemed to dive right in front of us. Well, there was the crash.
“Before we could do anything she was sinking fast. I heard someone yell. There was a heavy sea rolling, but it wasn’t raining hard.”
Supt. Johnson, of the Great Lakes Towing Company said he couldn’t estimate the exact value of the CHENEY, but he thought it was worth between $8000 and $9000. It may be raised. Nothing has been decided yet and nothing can be done until the sea goes down.
Divers to go After Bodies.
Oil on the surface of the lake about two miles this side of Point Abino showed to a party of investigators on the tug CASCADE this morning where the propeller had crashed into the tug. It was impossible because of the heavy seas to take the depth of the water. Tugmen took note of the place relative to the two shores, however, and when the lake quiets down divers probably will be sent to the bottom in an endeavor to recover the bodies.
`The party which went out on the CASCADE was organized by Patrolman Whelan, whose father met his death in the wreck. It was almost impossible to stand on the deck of the tug because of the waves.
“There was a heavier sea than this rolling last night,” said a tugman. It is calculated by lakemen that the water is of about average depth where the accident occurred. It was, of course, impossible to see any part of the tug, and for a long time, there were no signs of oil. Finally the CASCADE ran right into the oily water. The scene of the fatal wreck was therefore approximately located.
Buffalo Evening News
Tuesday, June 23, 1903

. . . . .

Another unsuccessful attempt was made this morning to get at the wreck of the tug CHENEY which was run down and sunk by the propeller CHEMUNG early yesterday morning about four miles south of Windmill Point in Lake Erie. The tug CASCADE, Capt. James Gray commanding, started for the scene of the wreck at 6 o’clock this morning. It was hoped that the sea would have gone down sufficiently to permit a diver’s going to the bottom but the weather was too severe.
Just as soon as the sunken tug can be reached it is believed the bodies of Edward Dugan and Andrew Fritzenahaf will be recovered. They were asleep in the tug and presumably had no chance to get out. In response to the appeal of Patrolman Arthur J. Whelan, son of the dead tug captain, people living along the Canadian shore of the lake in the vicinity of the wreck are keeping a lookout for any bodies.
G. W. Johnson, superintendent of the Great Lakes Towing Company’s Buffalo fleet, said this morning that an almost perfect calm would be necessary before a diver could go to the bottom, and do successful work.
“it is, of course, impossible to say just when we can get a. diver down there,” said Supt. Johnson. “If the wind stops and the sea quiets down we will lose no time in sending a diver to the scene. We know now just about where the tug is and it probably will be an easy matter to find it,”.
“How deep is the water in the vicinity of the wreck.?” was asked.
“I should say perhaps 40 or 60 feet,” said Mr. Johnson.
At that depth, marine men say there will be little danger of rough water having any very disastrous effect on the tug. If the collision with the CHEMUNG didn’t do too much damage, it is more than likely the CHENEY will be raised.
The families of the men whose lives were lost in the wreck, are anxiously awaiting the recovery of the bodies. The suspense is telling on them. Mrs. Bridget Whelan, wife of Capt. Whelan, who was among those lost, has not yet recovered from the shocking, news. Mrs. Whelan is in poor health, and the effect of the tragic death of her husband upon her is feared.
Much speculation is being indulged in as to how the accident really occurred. Vessel men say the solution is simple. The method of “rounding to” as the sailors call it was responsible for the accident, in their minds. One experienced lake man said this morning: “A tug goes out after, a big boat like the CHEMUNG and rounds to so as to get in the big boat’s suction. You see a tug couldn’t run as fast, as those big boats go. It is a case of run up to a big boat, turn quickly and snuggle right in under her bow where the suction takes hold of the tug and hurries her along just as fast as the big boat is going. If a tug misses the suction it goes away off behind and the captain can’t do business with the big one unless she slows down and waits. Now as I figure this out, Capt. Whelan, in rounding to, came a little too soon and ran directly in front of the steamer. The rounding to with a tug is always more or less dangerous. Of course there is the possibility that something was wrong with the steering gear. There might have been a dozen different reasons for the accident. Perhaps we’ll never know, although the boat may show something.”
Buffalo Evening News
Wednesday, June 24, 1903

. . . . .

Was Sighted Off Fort Erie Beach and Soon Brought Ashore.
The body of Capt. John F. Whalen of the ill-fated tug CHENEY, which was sunk by the propeller CHEMUNG, was found at 2:30 yesterday afternoon near the Fort Erie Beach shore of the lake. H. C. Webster of 163 West avenue. Buffalo, says he first discovered the body. He was walking along the beach with his 12-year-old son.
I notified some men of the discovery and we got the body ashore and notified the sheriff,” said he. “There was no doubt about the identification.”
F. L. R. Hope and Joseph Shumacher, U. S. Inspectors of Steam Vessels, held an inquiry yesterday into the circumstances of the accident. They mean to see whether there was a violation on any one’s part of the rules governing lake navigation. Capt. F. R. Huyck, Pilot Ward; Lookout Slattery and Wheelsnan Rowe, the last three of whom were on deck when the accident occurred, told what they knew of the accident. In substance they said the CHENEY had switched straight in front of the CHEMUNG.
The bodies of Andrew Fritzenschaf and Edward M. Dugan have not been recovered. Neither has the CHENEY been reached. If the lake calms down today, a diver will be sent to the bottom to search the wreck of the CHENEY.
The body of Capt. Whalen was taken to the morgue this morning by Undertaker Thomas Crowley. Deputy Medical Examiner Howland has been informed the coroner at Fort Erie has refused to issue a death certificate on the ground that Capt. Whalen was drowned in American water’s. Dr. Howland in case a certificate is not issued he will make one out.
Buffalo Evening News
Thursday, June 25, 1903

. . . . .

Two Tugs Grappling in the Lake With Big Anchor Chains.
Practically every tugman in Buffalo who could get away attended the funeral this morning of Capt. John F. Whalen, who was drowned by the sinking of the tug O. W. CHENEY about five miles south of Windmill Point, in Lake Erie, last Tuesday morning. Owing to this fact, further search for the missing tug was postponed until this afternoon when the tugs MASON and CASCADE started for the vicinity of the wreck. Supt. Johnson of the Great Lakes Towing Company’s Buffalo fleet said this morning he was hopeful of finding the tug before nightfall.
“We had two tugs out there all yesterday,” said Mr. Johnson, “big anchor chains were used for grappling, but the tug wasn’t found. We mean to keep at the work, however, until all hope is gone. It may prove a long tedious job, and again it may not. There is not much chance in a search of this kind when we know only the approximate location of the sunken boat.”
It is naturally impossible to send divers to the bottom before the boat is located, Mr. Johnson said, however, that if the CHENEY is found divers will be sent down to get the bodies of Edward M. Dugan and Andrew Fritzenschaf, the men who are said to have been asleep in their bunks when the freighter CHEMUNG crashed into the tug.
The bodies of these men probably are still in the hold of the tug. Until an inspection of the sunken boat can be made it will be impossible to determine whether the whole or any part of it can be raised.
Buffalo Evening News
Sunday, June 27, 1903

. . . . .

Inspectors Say if Rules Had Been Observed Accident Could Not Have Happened.
In a report submitted today, Government Inspector Pope and Schumacher hold the pilots of both vessels responsible for the collision of the steamer CHEMUNG and tug O. W. CHENEY off Windmill Point on the night of June 23. Three lives were lost and the tug was sent to the bottom.
The lIcense of James Ward, Pilot of the CHEMUNG, is suspended for six months. The pilot of the CHENEY was lost. Following is the report:
Department of Commerce and Labor Steamboat Inspection Service, office of local inspector, ninth district. Port of Buffalo, N. Y., July 7. 1903.
After careful deliberation on the testimony taken in the investigation of the collision between the steamers CHEMUNG and 0. W. CHENEY on Lake Erie between Point Abino and Wind Mill Point on the 23d day of June, 1903, about 3 o’clock A. M., we find that the steamer CHEMUNG was enroute to Buffalo, running at her usual rate of speed, which is about 12 miles per hour and heading due east. The night was dark and raining. Wind S. S. E. The lights
of a steamer on the port bow and also of a steamer on the starboard bow was plainly visible to the pilot and lookout of the steamer CHEMUNG when two miles distant.
The steamer Q. W. CHENEY was lying off Wind Mill Point waiting for a tow. As soon as the lights of the steamer CHEMUNG were seen by the crew of the tug they got underway, heading
for the CHEMUNG in the customary way for the purpose of getting a tow or to communIcate with her, and in doing so came across her bow, was struck on the starboard side and sank. Three of the crew of the tug 0. W. CHENEY were drowned.
Rule I. “When steamers are approaching each other ‘head and head.’ or nearly so, it shall be the duty of each steamer to pass to the right, or port side of the other and the pilot of either steamer may be first in determining to pursue this course, and thereupon shall give, as a signal of his intention, one short distinct blast of his whistle, which the pilot of the other steamer shall answer promptly by a similar blast of his whistle, and thereupon such steamers shall pass to the right or port side of each other. But if the course of such steamers is so far on the star board of each other as not to be considered by pilots as meeting head and
head,’ or nearly so. the pilot so first deciding shall immediately give two short and distinct blasts of the whistle, which the pilot of the other steamer shall answer promptly by two similar blasts of his whistle, and they shall pass to the left, or on the starboard side of each other.”
Rule V. “The signals, by blowing of the whistle, shall be given and answered by pilots, in compliance with these rules, not only when meeting ‘head and head’ or nearly so, but at all times when meeting or passing at a distance within a half mile of each other, and whether passing to the starboard or port.”
It appears from the evidence that the pilots of both steamers failed to observe the above rules. Signals were not exchanged as required by law. We feel satisfied that strict compliance with these rules would have made a collision impossible. Therefore, we must, in view of the evidence impose a penalty for a violation of the rules herein quoted and under the authority conferred upon us by Section 4450 of the Revised Statutes of the United States we hereby Suspend the First Class Pilot’s license of James Ward of the steamer CHEMUNG for six months, same to take effect immediately. The pilot in charge of the steamer 0. W. CHENEY was drowned.
Respectfully yours.
F. L. R. POPE.
U. S. Local Inspectors.
Buffalo Evening News
Tuesday, July 7, 1903

The wreck of the tug CHENEY, which sunk several years ago, was located yesterday near the old salt dock by Capt. Cofffee and John Burns. It is in several feet of water, but the ferrymen recovered some pieces of the machinery.
Buffalo Evening News
August 23, 1909

Steam screw O.W. CHENEY. U.S. No. 155034. Of 41.91 tons gross; 20.96. Built 1881 at Buffalo, N.Y. Home port, Bay City, Mich. 61.0 x 16.0 x 8.0
Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1886

O.W. CHENEY Built May 26, 1881 Steam Tug -Wood
U. S. No. 155034 41 gt -20 nt 61′ x 16′ x 8′
Sunk June 23, 1903, in collision with stmr. CHEMUNG off Buffalo, N.Y., Lake Erie.
Buffalo Shipbuilding Master List
Institute for Great Lakes Research
Perrysburg, Ohio


On 22 June 1853, CHALLENGE (wooden propeller freighter, 198 foot, 665 tons, built in 1853, at Newport, Michigan) was bound from Chicago for Buffalo with barreled pork and oats on one of her first trips. However, her boiler exploded off Cheboygan, Michigan. She burned and sank. Five died. The schooner NORTH STAR heard the blast ten miles away and came to the rescue of the rest of the passengers and crew.

Other names : none
Official no. : none
Type at loss : propeller, wood, freighter
Build info : 1853, Dixon, Newport, MI
Specs : 198x28x12, 665 t
Date of loss : 1853, Jun 22
Place of loss : off Cheboygan, MI
Lake : Huron
Type of loss : boiler explosion
Loss of life : 5
Carrying : barrelled pork, oats
Detail : While she was bound Chicago for Buffalo on one of her first trips, a sudden boiler explosion blew her stern off and she burned and sank. Her remaining crew and passengers were rescued from their lifeboat by the schooner NORTH STAR, which had heard her blow up from 10 miles distance.
Sailed Detroit for Buffalo on her 1st trip May 23, lost on Jun 22.

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Categories: Still Missing


On 19 June 1889, NORTH STAR (steel propeller freighter, 299 foot, 2,476 gross tons, built in 1889, at Cleveland, Ohio) collided with CHARLES J. SHEFFIELD (steel propeller freighter, 260 foot, 1,699 gross tons, built in 1887, at Cleveland, Ohio) about sixty miles west of Whitefish Point on Lake Superior in heavy fog. The NORTH STAR kept her bow in the SHEFFIELD’s side after the impact, giving the crew time to board. The SHEFFIELD then sank in 8 minutes. Her loss was valued at $160,000. The courts found both vessels to be equally at fault after years of litigation.


Other names : also seen as C.J. SHEFFIELD
Official no. : 126414
Type at loss : propeller, steel, passenger & package freight
Build info : 1886, Globe Iron Works, Cleveland
Specs : 259x37x23 1700g 1319n
Date of loss : 1889, Jun 19
Place of loss : 60 mi W of Whitefish Point**
Lake : Superior
Type of loss : collision
Loss of life : none of 17
Carrying : light (kerosene?)
Detail : She was rammed broadsides – just forward of her stack – in heavy fog by the steel freighter NORTH STAR, which kept her bow in the hole until SHEFFIELD’s crew clambered aboard. When she backed away, SHEFFIELD sank in 8 minutes, a total loss of $160,000. She went down in 900 feet of water. Both vessels were later found to be at fault.
Home port: Cleveland. Owned by H. Brown.
1st collision between two steel ships.
When built, she was a highly innovative bulk freighter, with a modern hatch plan and iron decks.



On 16 June 1892, GENERAL BURNSIDE (3-mast wooden schooner, 138 foot, 308 gross tons, built in 1862, at Wolfe Island, Ontario) foundered in a powerful northwest gale on Lake Erie near Southeast Shoal Light. Her crew was rescued by the tug GREGORY.

Build Year
Official Number
US 10163
Build City
Wolf Island
Build State
Vessel Type
Builder Name
John Oades
Built on Bottom of
QUEBEC (1845)
Power (Sail)
Sail Number Masts
Tonnage Gross
Tonnage Net
Final Disposition
Final Location
Near Southeast Shoal light
Lake Erie
Final Date Month
Final Date Day
Final Date Year
Final How
Final Notes
Foundered & sank in a NW gale; crew rescued by tug JOHN GREGORY.
History and Notes
1862-65 Two enrollments French Creek
1863 Owned Fowler & Esseltyn, Clayton, NY
1868 US 10163 307.54 gross tons; owned Clayton, New York
1871 Owned F. & E. Merrick, Clayton, New York
1872 September Collision with propeller B.W. GENNESS off Point aux
Barques, Lake Huron
1876 Same owners, Detroit, Michigan
1881 Repaired
1882 Owned F.H. Fish, Cleveland, Ohio, repaired. Described as barge
1885 Owned at Vermillion, Ohio
1887 June 21 Enrolled Port Huron, MI; owned Calvin Carrier
August 27 Owned Charles L. Thompson, Port Huron, Michigan;
1888 Major repairs
1892 July Foundered & sank Lake Erie

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Categories: Lake Eire



Ship Type: Side Wheeler
Lifespan: Built 1854, Scuttled 1931
Length: 176 ft (54m)
Depths: 70 ft (21.5m)
Location: Amherst Island, Lake Ontario, Canada
GPS: W76.37.15 N44.08.18

Launched as the “Kingston” at Montreal in 1854, she was one of the finest Canadian steamboats of her day on the Upper St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. Indeed, when the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) toured Canada in 1860, she was chosen to be his ‘floating palace’. In 1872, she was gutted by fire while off Grenadier Island in the St. Lawrence River. Rebuilt as the Bavarian, she again burned in the fall of 1873. The iron hull, rebuilt yet again, in Power’s shipyard at Kingston, was this time christened “Algerian.” In 1905, she was renamed “Cornwall”. Near the end of 1911, she was purchased by the Calvin Company of Garden Island, opposite Kingston. She was converted to a well-equipped rescue vessel and used until around 1925.

In the early 1930’s, during a snowstorm, the stripped Cornwall was scuttled near Amherst Island close to the graveyard where she remained until being discovered by Rick Neilson in 1989.

There is still much to see on this wreck. The boilers and some steam pipes are still present; wooden barrels are scattered about; the windlass is still attached to the bow section; and there is even a bed still there. Most importantly, both feathering paddle wheels are intact, a complete history of this wreck and ship can be purchased here.



On 10 June 1891, the tug AMERICAN EAGLE (wooden propeller tug, 46 gross tons, built in 1865, at Buffalo, New York) collided with the tug ALVA B (wooden propeller tug, 73 foot, 83 gross tons, built in 1890, at Buffalo, New York), which was not in motion, about 2.5 miles west of the Cleveland breakwater. The ALVA B hooked up a line and started towing the AMERICAN EAGLE in, but she sank a half-mile from the harbor entrance.

Build Year
Official Number
Build City
Build State
Vessel Type
Tug (Towboat)
Number of Decks
Hull Materials
Builder Name
Robert Scott, J. Carrol
Original Owner
Thomas Clark
Original Owner Location
Buffalo, NY
Power (Sail)
Propulsion Type
Power (Mechanical)
Engine Number Boilers
Engine Number Propellers
Tonnage Gross
Tonnage Net
Final Disposition
Final Location
1/2 mile from harbor entrance, Cleveland, OH.
Lake Erie.
Final Date Month
Final Date Day
Final Date Year
Final How
Final Notes
Collision with tug ALVA B., sank. Raised around Jul 1 cut through by salvagers’ chains. Machinery recovered later.
History and Notes
1865 Enrolled Buffalo, NY.
1867 Enrolled Milwaukee, WI.
1969, May 20 Owned Jas. Porter & Mary French, Milwaukee, WI.
1871 Owned James Porter, Manistee, MI.
1873 Owned Starke Brothers (et al), Milwaukee, WI; repaired.
1876 Owned C.H. Cook (et al), Montague, MI.
1879 Owned Dall & Co., Chicago, IL.
1885, Apr Sunk after striking wreck of schooner EXCHANGE Kelley’s Island.
1885, Jun 19 Burned off Cleveland, rebuilt.
1891, Jun 10 Sunk.

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Categories: Lake Eire



These two may have been recovered as I can not find much information on them.

Steamboat CHESAPEAKE, and Schooner J.F. PORTER.
[from the Express, of this morning]
About one o’clock yesterday morning, an unfortunate collision occurred between the Steamer CHESAPEAKE and Schooner J.F. PORTER, off Conneaut – the steamer bound up with passengers and merchandize; schooner bound down with a full cargo of wheat and corn. The latter sunk in eight fathoms water, the crew were saved by getting on board the CHESAPEAKE, which made for Conneaut Harbor. She unfortunately sunk, however, about two miles out. The passengers and crew were picked up by the steamer HARRISON about four hours after the disaster. The number of lives lost is not ascertained. Report says three of the crew are missing. Mr. D. Folsom, of Cleveland, is probably lost. After the HARRISON left, the CLEVELAND came down, visited the wreck, and would have rendered all the assistance she could had any persons been discovered floating upon planks or doors, but none were found.
Buffalo Daily Courier
Friday, June 11, 1847

. . . . .

( From the Cleveland Herald, Extra, June 10. )
Further Particulars of the Collision Between the
Steamboat CHESAPEAKE and Schooner J.F. PORTER.
The steamer CHESAPEAKE and schooner J.F. PORTER came in collision about half past 12 o’clock Thursday morning, when some four or five miles off Conneaut. The moment they struck the officers and hands on the PORTER jumped on board the CHESAPEAKE. The boat and vessel soon seperated, the boat backing off. The PORTER was not supposed to be seriously injured, and the boat of the CHESAPEAKE was lowered to put the crew on board the schooner, when the vessel went down.
About this time it was found that the CHESAPEAKE was fast filling, and unsuccessful efforts were made to stop the leak. The boat was headed to the shore and all steam crowded. The pumps were set a going, and effort was made to keep down the water by bailing. Capt. Warner had the jib lowered over the bow, which was drawn into the opening, and partially aided in staying the rush of waters. Notwithstanding every effort, the water gained so rapidly that the fires were soon extinguished, and when about a mile and a half from shore the boat lost her headway. The wind was blowing quite fresh from the south-west, considerable sea was running, and the anchor was let go to prevent drifting into the lake.
The CHESAPEAKE’s boat was immediately manned and filled with as many passengers as it could carry, four of then ladies, and started for Conneaut for assistance. The wind was so heavy that the boat drifted some two miles below the pier. Mr. Shepard, Clerk of the CHESAPEAKE, ran up the beach, and reached the pier just as the steamer HARRISON was entering the port. Capt. Parker promptly went to the rescue of the sufferers with the HARRISON, took off the survivors on the wreck, and picked up all that could be found afloat in the lake on hatches, planks, cabin doors, &c. A small boat from the shore rescued some who were nearly exhausted from long buffetings of the waves, upborne on these forlone hopes of drowning men.
After the CHESAPEAKE was brought to anchor she continued to sink gradually notwithstanding every possible effort by pumping and bailing to keep her afloat and at half past 3 o’clock, the hull went down, bow foremost, in 40 feet water. The upper cabin parted from the hull, and the upper deck remained out of water. On this such of the persons on board as had not previously left the boat were gathered and saved. None were lost who followed the advice of Capt. W., and continued with the wreck. But as the boat sank deep in the water, and it became certain that she must go down, a number prepared floats and took their chance for escape on them. Of these, eight are known to have been drowned, and it is
feared that others met with a like melancholy fate.
The passengers numbered between forty and fifty, an unusual proportion ladies, and several children. No ladies or children were lost. The presence of mind, energy and fortitude of the ladies throughout the trying scene, is described as remarkable. Perilous as was their situation, they heeded the advice of the officers, at their request urged their protectors to go below and assist in keeping the vessel afloat, and made no outcry until it was apparent that the HARRISON in passing, had not discovered the wreck – when one of them asked permission of the Captain to also hail, their best hopes of rescue, with the remark that woman’s shrill voice could be heard further than man’s. Woman’s cry of agony, too, was lost in the voice of the louder sounding sea. The lady of Capt. Warner was on board, and before the boat went down she was taken to the mast head, and remained there until the HARRISON came to the rescue.
As the books of the boat were lost, it is impossible to obtain a full list of the passengers at present. The following persons are known to have been lost: –
PASSENGERS. – Mr. George Van Doren, of Lower Sandusky, Ohio; Mr. Hock, of Watertown N. Y.; E. Cohn, of Belville, Ohio; S. York, of Tiffin, Ohio.
CREW.- R. Sutherland, 1st. engineer; O. Wait, porter; R. McMann, deck hand
It is greatly feared that Mr. D.A. Folsom, of Rochester, N. Y., formerly of this city, is also among the lost. When the small boat was leaving the wreck, he urged his wife to enter it with their child. She was unwilling to do so without he accompanied her. With true and noble disinterestedness he refused to embrace the opportunity to save himself so long as ladies and children were left on board the sinking craft, but knowing the mothers yearning heart towards her tender offspring, he placed the child in the boat. The mother clung to it, and he bade her farewell from the gangway. Soon after Mr. Folsom, in company with young man, a hand on board, entrusted himself to the waves on a hatchway and plank fastened together. His companion was rescued after daylight, so nearly exhausted, that life was restored with difficulty. He stated that after floating for some time Mr. Folsom said he thought they could sooner reach shore if their floats were seperated, and when last seen Mr. F. and his hatchway were in advance of the plank and its lone voyager. It is hoped that either reached land, or was picked up by a passing vessel.
Mr. Van Doren was a Merchant at Lower Sandusky, and leaves a family to mourn their unexpected bereavement. He committed himself to a raft with four others, withstood the buffetings of the waves for some time, but at last sank to sleep in their cold embrace.
The officers of the CHESAPEAKE did everyting men could do to inspire confidence and exertion, and to save life in the terrible exigency. Mr. Andrew Lytle, Steward of the boat, was particulary active in preparing floats for the use of any who chose them, and barely escaped. When the boat sunk he struck ou on a state room door, but soon after saw the safer place was on that portion of the wreck still above water. The wind and waves drifted him so rapidly that he could not return, and lying flat on his buoy he continued to struggle and float the waves frequently dashing over him, until picked up after daylight nearly
Passengers lost their baggage, not a single trunk being saved. The mail to Sandusky City also lost. About 30 tons of freight, mostly dry goods and groceries for Sandusky City on board. The Clerks books, and about $8,000 in his charge, sank with the boat. The CHESAPEAKE belongs to Messrs. D.N. Barney & Co. The PORTER was loaded by Messrs. A. Seymour & Co., with 4,000 bushels of corn 7 barrels of pork. It is a singular circumstance that three vessels should be run down the same night in the same vicinity, the ROUGH & READY, the CHESAPEAKE, and the PORTER. The night was gusty, clear above, but misty on the water, and seamen say approaching lights appeared much further distant than they really were.
Buffalo Daily Courier
Monday, June 14, 1847

. . . . .

U. S. Steamer ” MICHIGAN.”
Erie, Penn., June 11, 1847
The following bearings were this day taken from this ship, of the wreck of the schooner ” JOHN PORTER,” and also the steamer ” CHESAPEAKE,” off Conneaut.
Conneaut Light bore from the ” JOHN PORTER,” S. by W.; distant about 7 miles,, sounded in 7 fathoms water, at 50 yard distant from the wreck.
The Light bore from the ” CHESAPEAKE,” S. 3-4 W.; distant about 2 miles, the vessel lying in 7 fathoms water.
Stephen Champlin
Commander U. S. N.

Buffalo Daily Courier
Monday, June 14, 1847

. . . . .
Schooner J.F. PORTER, with wheat and corn sunk by collision with steamer CHESAPEAKE. Schooner sank in eight fathoms of water off Conneaut, the steamer CHESAPEAKE also sunk about two miles out from Conneaut Harbor, where she was trying to make after the collision.
Quebec Mercury
June 22, 1847
. . . . .

“The spars of the two vessels (CHESAPEAKE & J.F. PORTER) only are to be seen from land. The upper works of the CHESAPEAKE have seperated from the hull, and were seen drifting below Erie.”
Cleveland Herald
Wednesday, June 23, 1847

. . . . .

Marine Intelligence- Loss of the CHESAPEAKE – The Cleveland Herald of the 27th inst says the the trial of Chs. H. Wilson, H. R. Warner, and R. Demens in the U. S. Circuit Court, at Columbus, on an indictment which charges negligence on the part of the defendants, as officers of the steamer CHESAPEAKE, in consequence of which a collison took place between the steamer and the schooner GEN. PORTER, on L. Erie, on the night of the 8th of June, 1847, resulting in the loss of both the steamer and the schooner, and the destruction of several lives, was commenced on the 22d. Counsel on the part of the United States, Thomas W. Bartley, Esq. District attorney for the defence Messrs. Swayne and Beecher. The indictment charges the defendants 1st. with negligence in not preventing the collision, 2d with neglect of duty after the collision, resulting in the loss of life. The witnesses examined the first day were Joseph Kemball, B.D. White; F.B. Hubbark; A.M. Stem. Mrs. Bradbury and Andrew Lytle.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
Thursday, November 30, 1848

. . . . .

Loss of the CHESAPEAKE: The trial of Cyrenus H. Wilson, Henry R. Warner and Ravnes Dimond, took place in the United States Circuit Court at Columbus, Ohio, last week. The indictment charges negligence on the part of the defendants, as officers of the steamer CHESAPEAKE, in consequence of which a collision took place between said steamer and the schooner GEN. PORTER, on Lake Erie. on the night of the 8th of June, 1847, resulting in the loss of both the steamer and the schooner, and the destruction of several lives. The indictment charges the defendants, Ist with negligence in not preventing the collision: 2nd, with neglect of duty after the collision, resulting in the loss of life. The trial lasted several days, and the evidence elicited was rather conflicting as to whether the collision was the fault of those on board the steamer or not. The captain of the schooner swore that his vessel had lights both fore and aft, while one of the passengers on the steamer testified that he did not see the light, while standing by the officer of the watch, until too late to prevent the collision. It was also in evidence that the course of the schooner was altered a point after those on board saw the steamer’s light. As for the loss of life, it appeared that none of the passengers who followed the captain’s advice to stay on board the boat were drowned.
The Judge charged strongly in favor of the accused, and on Wednesay evening, after a confinement of twenty-four hours, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, as to all the defendants.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
Thursday Evening, December 7, 1848

. . . . .

Schooner J.F. PORTER, of 124 tons.
List of American Lake Vessels, 1847
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
April 19, 1848

. . . . .

Schooner J.F. PORTER, ( dead ) 124.49 tons. Enrolled and licensed in the District of Cuyahoga, 1849
Tonnage of The Lakes
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
Friday, March 30, 1849

. . . . .

NOTE:– see also JOHN PORTER.

The steamers Chesapeake and Constellation from Buffalo, were sailing in company on Lake Erie, June 9, 1847, and being off Conneaut about midnight, they met the schooner Porter, which turned aside to avoid the Constellation, and came in contact with the Chesapeake. It appears that the light on board the Chesapeake was mistaken by the helmsman of the schooner for a light on shore, and by some miscalculation of the distance, the schooner ran into the steamer, which she struck on the larboard bow. At the moment of collision, the crew of the Porter sprang on board the Chesapeake, and the latter continued her course out into the lake. Captain “Waine of the Chesapeake, thinking that neither vessel was much injured, put about, and steered for the Porter in order to return her crew; but as she came nearer, it was perceived that the Porter was sinking, and by the time the small boat was lowered, she had disappeared. At this moment, the captain was informed that the steamer was leaking. All hands were called to the pumps, but the water gained on them, and the passengers were set to bailing. The firemen were driven from the hold by the rush of water. The Captain had ordered her to be run ashore; she was accordingly headed in that direction, but before she had proceeded far, the water had put out her fires, and the engine stopped. The anchor was then let go to maintain her position, as the wind was blowing freshly from the shore. From this time to the moment the boat sunk, all hands were employed in preparing floats for the conveyance of the crew and passengers to land. The Captain advised all to stick to the wreck, but some left it not withstanding, hoping to swim ashore, or to float thither on pieces of plank, furniture, &c., but nothing was heard of them afterwards. Among those who left the boat in this way, was the chief engineer.

Within half an hour after the collision, the Chesapeake went down, head foremost, in seven fathoms water. The upper deck separated from the hull, and remained on the surface. On this floating platform, the passengers who remained alive, took refuge. Many of them were women and children, and their shrieks for aid are described by Captain Waine (who tells the story of the disaster) as most appalling. At this critical juncture, the steamer Harrison hove in sight, but soon passed them at a distance without hearing their cries for help. The Harrison stopped at Connaut, about a mile and a half distant from the wreck, and her captain was there informed by the clerk of the Chesapeake, who, with several other persons had reached the shore in a small boat, that his assistance was needed. The Harrison immediately started for the place, and rescued all who were still alive on the floating deck.

The persons named below are known to have been drowned :

Mrs. Houk, Waterton, N. Y.; G. Van Doren, Sandusky; E. Cone, Belle Air, Ohio ; S. York, Tiffin, Ohio; R. Sutherland, chief engineer; Orson Ware, second porter; R. McNabb, deck-hand.

Besides these, many passengers whose names were unregistered, were undoubtedly lost. The clerk’s books, and about $8000 in specie, sunk with the hull, and were never recovered.

During that awful half hour which preceded the sinking of the Chesapeake, the state of affairs on board was almost too horrible for description. The night was exceedingly dark; a high wind was blowing from the shore, precluding all hope of reaching land on floats; the boat was fast sinking, and death to all on board seemed inevitable. The captain preserved all his serenity, and advised the passengers that their only chance of safety consisted in remaining on the wreck. He assisted his wife and another lady to climb the mast, and fixed them on the cross-trees. Mr. Lytle, the steward of the boat, was very active and self-possessed, helping such as needed help, and often exposed his life to imminent peril in order to preserve the lives of others.

At length the bow began to fall, and the cry was heard, ” She is going!” One loud, long, and unearthly shriek arose simultaneously from the despairing multitude; a shriek which the survivors say is still ringing in their ears, and such a shriek as they hope never to hear again. Many had betaken themselves to floating articles, settees, cabin-doors, planks, tables, &c. One man was seen to turn under his plank, where he remained, his fingers only visible, holding on with the grasp of death. A gentleman and his wife were seen on a float, sometimes sinking, and then rising again to the surface. The lady, not having presence of mind enough to guard against inhaling the water, soon became strangled and exhausted, and died beside her husband, who held out some time longer, but finally sunk into the same watery grave which had received his wife. ” They loved in life, and in death they were not divided.”

The most touching case was that of Daniel Folsom, his wife, and child. When the engine ceased to work, the yawl-boat was manned and sent ashore in charge of Mr. Sheppard, the clerk. Ten men were put on board, and four ladies, among whom was Mrs. Folsom. She at first refused to go without her husband. . He knew it was not the time to debate such a question, and instantly resorted to the only argument which could prevail, by taking the child and putting it in the boat. She then followed, and the husband took an affectionate leave of her at the gang-way. All of this family were saved.

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Categories: General Nonsense


Thomas Wilson wreck painting by Kurt Carlson

1902: The whaleback steamer THOMAS WILSON sank after a collision with the GEORGE G. HADLEY a mile off the Duluth piers while outbound with iron ore and nine lives were lost located at 46° 47′ 0″ N, 92° 4′ 10″ W

Here’s an account of the collision written by the News Tribune’s Chuck Frederick in May 1996, when the wreck site was named one of Minnesota’s most endangered historic sites because of damage caused by ships’ anchors:

On a glorious June day in 1902, the whaleback steamer Thomas Wilson sailed quietly across glass-still water through the Duluth entry and into Lake Superior.

Less than a mile out, the wooden freighter George Hadley was changing course. The captain had decided not to enter the harbor in Duluth. He steamed the ship instead toward the Superior entry — and into the path of the Wilson.

Neither boat was able to yield. The nose of the 287-foot Hadley slammed into the broadside of the Wilson. She went down fast. Water poured into cargo holds that had been left unsecured. The captain figured he could save time by bolting down the hatch covers during the trip across the calm lake.

Within minutes, the Wilson’s mast was all that was left poking through the still water about a half-mile from the Duluth entry. The Hadley was able to beach itself along Minnesota Point where it could later be salvaged and repaired.

Nine crew members went down with the Wilson, a ship that is now part of Northland shipping lore. She was built in 1892 in Superior at the American Steel Barge Co., an ancestor to today’s Fraser Shipyards. The company was owned by Alexander McDougall, who designed the whaleback steamers, including the SS Meteor, a sister ship to the Wilson that now is open for tours on Superior’s Barker’s Island. The Wilson’s anchors are displayed on the lawn in front of the Marine Museum in Duluth’s Canal Park.

The wreck is popular among divers, who wait for northeasterly winds to push in clear water. But it’s not the ship it used to be, they say. “It has been utterly destroyed” by the anchors dropped by Great Lakes vessels, said Elmer Engman, a Proctor diver who owns Inner Space Scuba Equipment along Miller Trunk Highway.

“It looks like a ship that’s been in a war,” said Scott Anfinson of the State Historic Preservation Office in St. Paul. “It looks like someone’s been dropping bombs on it. Instead of colliding with one ship, it looks like it was hit by five or six boats all at once.”

The Wilson’s deck has been destroyed by the anchors, but the forward cabins and bow structure are still intact.

News from the stranded whaleback steamer THOMAS WILSON at Baileys harbor is not as favorable as the reports at first received. captain Martin Swain of the wrecker FAVORITE reported that the WILSON lies on the old lighthouse Shoal, about three-quarters of a mile from shore. The forward end of the steamer is free. The engine-room is full of water, showing that the ship’s bottom is badly cut up. The hull has a list to starboard, which may prevent the use of hydraulic jacks in launching her off the rocks. The weather yesterday was favorable for wrecking. The reef at Bailey’s Harbor is famous among the old-time mariners as a good spot to avoid. A large number of vessels have gone ashore there and countless more have missed going ashore in clear weather because they believed their own eyes rather than the compass by which they were supposed to be steering. It is a fact well known by those commanders whose courses have been laid near the reef that the “local attraction,” or whatever it may be called, will cause a very marked deviation in the compass whenever the vessel get within a certain undefined distance from the shore. In clear weather and daylight it is possible to ignore to ignore the compass, but in cloudy or stormy weather the vessels that venture too close to the danger line within which the shore attraction prevails is apt to come upon something decidedly unexpected and unpleasant.
Assorted newspaper Clippings
October 11, 1901

The whaleback steamer THOMAS WILSON was released from Bailey’s harbor reef at 7:40 o’clock yesterday morning. The wrecking tug FAVORITE took the steamer in tow for a dry-dock. The WILSON is thought to be in better shape than was indicated when she went ashore.
Assorted newspaper Clippings
October 16, 1901

THOMAS WILSON. Built April 30, 1892 Whaleback Bulk Propeller – Steel
U. S. No. 145616. 1713 gt – 1318 nt 308.0 x 38.0 x 24.0
Sunk in collision with steamer GEORGE G. HADLY, June 7, 1902, 1 miles south of Duluth, Minn., piers; 9 lives lost.
American Barge Co., Superior, Master Shipbuilding List
Institute for Great Lakes research
Perrysburg, Ohio.