Month: August 2017


On 31 August 1906, CAVALIER (3-mast wooden schooner, 134 foot 268 gross tons, built in 1867, at Quebec City as a bark) was carrying cedar lumber when she struck a reef off Chantry Island in Lake Huron and sank. Her crew was rescued by the Chantry Island lightkeeper. She was bound from Tobermory for Sarnia, Ontario.

Other names : none
Official no. : C ?
Type at loss : schooner, wood, 3-mast
Build info : 1867, McKay & Warner, Quebec City as a bark
Specs : 134x26x12 268gc
Date of loss : 1906, Aug 31
Place of loss : off Chantry Isl.
Lake : Huron
Type of loss : storm
Loss of life : none
Carrying : cedar lumber
Detail : She filled and sank after striking a reef. Her crew was rescued by the Chantry Island Lightkeeper. She had been bound Tobermorey for Sarnia.
Out of Quebec City

August 31st. 19O6 the CAVALIER of Quebec 268 tons net. Foundered at Chantry Island, Southampton, Lake Huron.
Dept. of Transport
Casualty for 1906
. . . . .

Southampton Sept 1 — About 9 o’clock last night the schooner CAVALIER loaded with lumber from Tobermory for Sarnia, arrived off this port in a waterlogged condition,the vessel struck on the north reef of Chantry Island trying to make the harbor, she will be a total loss, the heavy seas having pounded in the stern during the night, Capt. Glass and the rest of the crew were rescued at daybreak by Capt. Lambert, lightkeeper on Chantry Island, with fine weather most of the cargo will be saved.
from Toronto Globe
September 3rd. 1906 p. 12

. . . . .

Bark CAVALIER. Official Canadian No. 55892. Built at Quebec in 1867. Home port, Quebec. Of 299 tons Reg. 137.0 x 26.2 x 11.7 Owned by Mrs. Annie Glass, of Sarnia, Ontario.
List of Vessels on the Registery Books of the
Dominion of Canada, on December 31, 1902

. . . . .

Disaster continued into the century. the schooner Cavalier, 366 tons waterlogged in a wild sea, tried to make the harbor of refuge and fetched up on the nort reef at 9 o’clock in the evening of Aug. 3lst. 1906. Capt. Joseph Glass and crew clung to the wreck all night, and as she began to break up next morning were taken off by keeper Lambert . the CAVALIER was launched at Quebec City in 1867, was laden with lumber from Tobermory to Sarnia, she went to pieces in a few days.
from Shipwrecks of the Saugeen
by Patric Folkes

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Categories: Lake Huron Still Missing



On 26 August 1875, COMET (propeller passenger/package freight, 181 foot, 744 tons, built in 1857, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying ore and pig iron in Lake Superior on a foggy night. While trying to pass the Beatty Line steamer MANITOBA, 7 miles SE of Whitefish Point, signals were misunderstood and COMET veered into the path of MANITOBA. COMET was rammed amidships and sank in ten minutes. 11 of the 21 aboard lost their lives. This wasn’t the first such accident for COMET. In October 1869, she suffered a similar mishap with the propeller HUNTER and that time both vessels sank.

Comet lies in 230 feet (70 m) of water at 46°43.02′N 84°52.00′W in Whitefish Bay of Lake Superior.[7] Scuba diving to the wrecksite requires advanced technical diving skills. Great Lakes diver Steve Harrington reported that “divers will find much of the hull intact with twin standing arches.”[8] The wreck is protected for future generations by the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve as part of an underwater museum.

The steamer MANITOBA, of the Beatty Line collided with the propeller COMET Thursday evening at 8:40, above Whitefish Point, Lake Superior and sunk her instantly. Ten were lost and sixteen saved. The MANITOBA returned to the Soo. The COMET’s cargo was pig iron, silver ore and 50 sacks of wool.
Port Huron Daily Times
Saturday, August 28, 1875

. . . . .

COLLISION ON LAKE SUPERIOR. — Detroit, Aug. 27. — The steamer MANITOBA came in collision with the propeller COMET about White Fish Point, Lake Superior on Thursday night, and sank her almost instantly. Eleven lives were lost, and ten persons saved, including the Captain and First Mate of the COMET. No one was injured on the MANITOBA, and she took the survivors of the COMET to the Sauly.
Meaford Monitor
Tuesday, August 31, 1875

. . . . .

The loss of the steamer COMET, off White Fish Point, Lake Superior, on Thursday night, in consequence of a collision with the steamer MANITOBA, was made known Saturday. The following are the names of those saved:- Francis Dugot, of Cleveland, Captain; John Gore, of Troy, N.Y., first mate; Wm. H. Weaver, of Cleveland, second mate; James Kaffity, Leopold Smith, wheelsman; John Scott, lookout; Chas. Conner Parker, Thos. Murpby, and Peter Handlon, deckhand; also one coloured fireman, name unknown. Among the drowned are Bobby and Brown, first and second engineers and nine others whose names are unknown.
The steamer COMET was owned by Hannah & Co, of Cleveland, and was an old boat. The Cleveland `Leader’ speaking of her says:- “The COMET was eighteen years old, having been built in Cleveland in 1857. Several years later she was run down in the Detroit River, soon after raised, and placed in dry-dock, thoroughly repaired, and for many years there-after was engaged in the Lake Superior trade. In the Winter of 1875-4 she was again placed in dry-dock here, and received a very complete overhaul, some $15,000 being expended. Most of the time during the present season she has been laid-up here, having nothing to do. Early in the Spring she made several trips, but there was no money made and she was withdrawn. About three weeks since an arrangement was made and she was again placed in commision, and this was her first trip. Her cargo consisted of seventy tons of silver ore, consigned to some eastern parties, fifty four sacks of wool and a large amount of pig iron. The insurance on the cargo was $14,500. It’s value is not known. The vessel was rated B I, had a registered tonnage of 744 I6-1OO tons, and was valued at about $25,000, on which there was an insurance of $20,000. She carried a crew of about twenty persons, and was commanded by Francis Dugot, of this city.” (Cleveland)
Toronto Daily Globe
Wednesday, September 1, 1875

A Passengers Statement
August 27, 1875. — ” I was on deck most of the evening. The weather was delightful, and the stars shone brightly. A steamer was sighted after passing Whitefish Point, showing her green light, full starboard side. The steamer proved to be the COMET, and loaded with silver and iron ore, approaching us from the N. N. W. When whithin a short distance of the MANITOBA the COMET suddenly shifted her course, shutting out her green light and showing her red light, and crossing the MANITOBA’s bows. Neither boat whistled; if they had, I should certainly have heard it. I heard the bells in the engine room of the MANITOBA ring. The mate of the MANITOBA was in charge. Just before the collision Captain Symes came on deck, and seeing the position of the steamers, he jumped with lightning speed into the rigging to ascend to the pilot-house, but ere any orders could have been executed the steamers collided with a fearful crash; the MANITOBA striking the COMET near the forecastle, and cutting into her from twelve to fourteen feet. The COMET then swung around, and the steamers came together with a heavy crash, the water rushing into the COMET through the breach at a rapid rate. The hull of the COMET parted and sank almost immediately. The upper works appeared to crumble and float away from the time of the collision till she sank from sight,it being less than one minute. The mate and crew of the MANITOBA had their boats lowered and manned, ready to render assistance to the sufferers, ere the COMET sank; in fact, Capt. Symes, officers and crew of the MANITOBA, acted nobly, and did everyting in their power to save the lives of the crew of the sinking steamer. Six of the crew jumped from the wreck to the decks of the MANITOBA, and the boats afterwards picked up four, making ten in all saved. There were six men asleep in the forecastle of the COMET, and it is supposed that
they were crushed to death, or so badly injured that they could not make their escape. The first engineer was in bed asleep, and went down with the ship; the second engineer went down at his post. One poor fellow jumped from the wreck and caught the sash of one of the windows of the MANITOBA; his hold giving way, and falling, was heard to exclaim “Oh Lord God, I am gone.” One other poor man was seen to jump, but was carried down by the suction of the wreck. The other one of the crew that was lost was not seen or heard. The wheelsman of the MANITOBA was thrown forward over the wheel, and passengers that were sitting in the Saloon were thrown prostrate, and lamps were put out, such was the force of the concussion.
His Lordship the Bishop of Moosonee, and the Rev. Mr. Dixon, Methodist Minister, of Sarnia, were just preparing to hold evening service at the time of the accident, and ere they had time to gain the deck the wreck had disappeared.
There were about fifty cabin passengers, the greater part ladies, and several deck passengers on board the MANITOBA.They acted nobly, and particular mention is made of the ladies, who appeared perfectly cool, considering the trying circumstances; not a screetch was heard, only anxious enquiries,” is there danger”
One of the cooks of the MANITOBA became so excited that he Jumped on the wreck and had barely time to regain the MANITOBA before it was too late.
The mate of the MANITOBA states that the green light of the COMET was seen quite full; and that when within a short distance of each other the COMET gave a short blast with her whistle and ported her helm, bringing her red light in view, thus bringing the COMET to cross
the MANITOBA’s bows. He rang the bell to check, but the distance being short the steamers collided ere further orders could be executed.
One of the proprietors of the MANITOBA, Mr.John Beatty, together with his lady, was on board.
The time the accident occurred was about 8:4O p. m.
Toronto Daily Globe
Thursday, September 2, 1875

. . . . .

According to the Cleveland Herald negotiations “are now going on between the underwriters and the Coast Wrecking Co. in relation to raising the prop. COMET. She is sunk in 21 fathoms of water, and it is believed she can be raised without much trouble, and that the value of the cargo will warrant the attempt.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
September 7, 1875 3-4

. . . . .

During the night of Thursday, August 26th, the side-wheel steamer MANITOBA, Beatty’s line of steamers, between Sarnia and Duluth and bound up for that port, collided with the freight propeller COMET bound down, about two miles east of Whitefish Point, Lake Superior, and about 25 miles northwest from the terminus of the Sault Ste. Marie canal. The cause of the collision is not stated, but the officers of the MANITOBA say it was the fault of the COMET. A large hole was made on her starboard quarter and the water rushed in rapidly. The cargo of the COMET consisted for the most part of pig-iron, of which some 300 tons were taken on at Duluth. She had also on board 10 tons of Montana silver ore, shipped at Duluth together with a quantity of wool. The nature of her cargo rendered all attempts to save her useless and she sank to the bottom in about ten minutes. She had a crew of 25 men on board, of whom 10 are reported lost. The following are the names of those saved: Francis Duget, of Cleveland, captain; John Gore, of Troy, N.Y., first mate; W.H. Weaver, of Cleveland, second mate; J. Rafferty and L. Smith, wheelsmen; John Scott, lookout; Charles Conner, porter; Thomas Murphy and Peter Handlon, deck hands; also one colored man name unknown. Among the drowned are Bogey and Brown, first and second engineers and nine others, names unknown. The MANITOBA picked up the survivors and brought them to Sault Ste. Marie. The COMET was built by Peck & Masters at Cleveland in 1856 and was of 622 tons burthen and was valued, when completed, at $26,000. At present prices her valuation would not exceed $15,000. The loss on her cargo will foot up to at least $25,000. She was built for the New York Central Railroad and for many seasons was in the Buffalo and Chicago trade. In 1868 she collided with another boat at the mouth of the River near Stony Island and was sunk. She was raised immediately and large repairs were made on her at Cleveland. Her present owners, Hanna & Co., had her on the Lake Superior route during the greater portion of last season, but she was laid up in September because of the dull season in company with the ROCKET. This season, although the boats have ample cabin accommodations, they have been devoted almost exclusively to the freight traffic, visiting all Lake Superior ports.
The captain and crew of the ill-fated vessel furnish a few additional particulars of the disaster. They say the MANITOBA was plainly visible to the COMET, which sounded one whistle for her to take the starboard side but received no answer. The collision happened about 8:40 in the evening and the night was perfectly clear. The MANITOBA struck the COMET about sixteen feet from the stem, port side, and ran into her sixteen feet. The COMET sunk in less than three minutes and with the greatest difhcuhy her crew climbed on board the MANITOBA. During the excitement several of the crew of the MANITOBA jumped on board the COMET, but luckily returned to their own boat. She, however, leaked badly and required the constant use of her pony engine to keep her clear of water until she arrived at the Sault, where her freight was shifted aft and the leak repaired. George Smith, fireman, who Lived at Chatham, Ontario, and Michael Burke, deck hand, of Buffalo, were drowned. The names of the others besides those given it was impossible to obtain as all the vessel’s books went down with her. In addition to the cargo mentioned the COMET had fifty-three sacks of wool. The number of lives lost was eleven.
Amherstburg Echo
September 3, 1875

The following particulars of this sad occurence are from the Sault Ste. Marie `Pioneer’ extra, dated August 27, 1875.–
I was on deck most of the evening.- The weather was delightful, and the stars shone brightly. A steamer was sighted after passing White Fish Point, showing her green light, full, starboard side. The steamer proved to be the “COMETT”, and loaded with Silver and Iron Ore, approaching us from the N. N. W. When within a short distance of the “MANITOBA”, the “COMET” suddenly shifted her course, shutting out her green light and showing her red light,
and crossing the “MANITOBA’S” bows. Neither boats whistled; if they had I should certainly have heard it. I heard the bells in the engine room of the “MANITOBA” ring. The mate of the
“MANITOBA” was in charge, just before the collision Captain Symes came on deck, and seeing the position of the steamers, he jumped with lightening speed into the rigging to ascend to the pilot house, but ere any orders could be executed the steamers collided with a fearful crash; the “MANITOBA” striking the “COMET” near the forecastle, and cutting into her from 12 to 15 feet.
The “COMET” then swung around and the steamers came together with a heavy crash, the water rushing into the “COMET” through the breach at a rapid rate. The hull of the “COMET” parted and sunk almost immediately. The upper works appearing to crumble and float away from the time of the collision till she sank from sight, it being less than one minute. The mate and crew of the “MANITOBA” had their boat lowered and manned, ready to render assistance to the sufferers, ere the “COMBT” sank; in fact Captain Symes, officers and crew of the “MANITOBA”, acted nobly, and did everything in their power to save the lives of the crew of the sinking steamer. Six of the crew jumped from the wreck to the decks of the MANITOBA”, and the boats afterwards picked up four, making ten in all saved. There were six men asleep in the forecastle of the “COMET”, and it is supposed that they were crushed to death, or so badly injured that they could not make their escape. The first engineer was in bed asleep,
and went down with the ship; the second engineer went down at his post. One poor fellow jumped from the wreck and caught the sash of one of the windows of the “MANITOBA”; his hold giving way, and falling, was heard to exclaim: Oh! Lord! God!! I am gone!!!
One other poor man was seen to jump, but was carried down with the suction of the wreck. The other one of the crew that was lost, was not seen or heard. The wheelsman of the “MANITOBA” was thrown forward over the wheel; and passengers that were sitting in the saloon, were thrown prostrate, and lamps were put out, such was the force of the concussion. –
His Lordship, the Bishop of Moosonee, and the Rev. Mr. Dixon, Methodist Minister of Sarnia, were just preparingto hold evening service at the time of the accident, and ere they had time to gain the deck the wreck had disappeared.
There were about 50 cabin, the greater part Ladies, and several deck passengers on board the “MAMITOBA”. They acted nobly, and particular attention is made of the Ladies, who appeared perfectly cool, considering the trying circumstances, not a screech was heard, only anxious enquiries, “is there danger”?.
One of the cooks of the “MANITOBA” became so excited, that he jumped on the wreck, and had barely time to regain the “MANITOBA” before it was too late.
The mate of the “MANITOBA” states that the green light of the “COMET” was seen quite full; and that when within a short distance of each other the “COMET” gave a short blast with her whistle, and ported her helm, bringing her red light in view; thus bringing the “COMET” to cross the “MANITOBA’S” bows.
He rang the bell to check, but the distance being short, the steamers collided ere further orders could be executed.
One of the proprietors of the MANITOBA, John Beatty Esq., together with his lady, were on board.
The time the accident occurred was about 8:40 P. M.
Meaford Monitor
Friday, September 3, 1875

Capt. Fred Merriman denies that the Coast Wrecking Co. will attempt the raising of the prop. COMET. He claims that the propeller is in much deeper water than was at first reported and that it would be an impossibility for any diver to reach her.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
September 11, 1875 3-5

(To the Editor of the Globe)
SIR,-The captain of the steamer BADGER STAE, which called here this moruing, en-route from Chicago, reports seeing thirteen vessels, ashore on Lake Michigan. The names or further particulars he was unable to give,as they were not approached near enough further than
to observe their relative positions with the aid of a telescope.
It is just 23 years since the northern lakes were visited by so severe a gale so early in September, and strange as it may appear, both occurred on the same date, with winds from the same quarter, though attended with far less loss of life and property in the former instance. Among other casualties occurring at that time was the loss of the schooner CLYDE near Toronto, having on board 50 hhds. of sugar, and 100 tons of coal; the wrecking of the schooner BUFFALO, and the loss of all hands, on Long Point; the Canadian prop. REINDEER
beached at Long Point Cut; the schooner OREGON foundered above Erie with the loss of all hands, with many others, the value of property lost being estimated by the underwriters at $47,125, and the number of lives sacrificed 37. It was also noticed in that year (I refer to 1852 ) that the equinoctial gales which usually occur on or about the 2Oth. of the month did not take place, nor did any weather of a violent character set in until towards the latter part of October. In short, the remainder of the season was not violently unpropitious for the shipping, or for navigation continuing uninterrupted until after the middle of December, the last disaster of the season being the loss of the brig JOHN HANCOCK, with a cargo of railroad iron, at Rond Eau,which occurred on the I8th. of that month.
The loss of such treacherous old crafts as the EQUINOX, COMET, and MENDOTA, can occasion no surprise. In the case of the EQUINOX, Capt. Dwight Scott, her principal owner, was the victim of his own recklessness, and the further loss of life has been most deplorable.
There are numerous old crafts yet afloat, and ere the season closes other casualties equally as sad and alarming, will doubtless occur. A Plimsoll would find much to occupy his time in going for these miserable old hulks
J. W. H. Detroit, Sept. 14, 1875
Toronto Daily Globe
Thursday, September 16, 1875

The investigation at Sarnia into the collision on Lake Superior between the MANITOBA and the COMET, in which the latter was lost, has closed and the first boat has been exonerated from all blame.
Amherstburg Echo
September 24, 1875

The collision case of the propeller COMET and steamer MANITOBA, pending in the United States district court many years, has been finally settled by a decision of the United States Supreme court, affirming the decision made by Judge Brown and ratified by Judge Baxter. The collision occurred about 8 o’clock in the evening on the 26th. of August, 1875, about six miles south and east of Whitefish Point, in Lake Superior. The COMET was bound from Grand Island to Cleveland, and the MANITOBA from Sarnia to Duluth. The master of the COMET claimed to have done all he could to avert a collision. He blew the whistle, altered his course, and finally stopped and reversed the engines, but to no purpose, for the MANITOBA struck her on the port bow, cutting her nearly in two, sinking her in less than two minutes and destroying the lives of eleven men. The principal fault charged upon the MANITOBA, was that of starboarding her wheel instead of porting, as she was bound to do as the vessels were meeting end, or nearly end on. The MANITOBA, on the other hand, declared that at the last minute, the COMET swung across her bows. Libels and cross libels were filed and the case tried in 1878, when Judge Brown found both vessels at fault, and decided that the loss should be equally apportioned between them. The loss on the COMET and her cargo with interest, was fixed at $85,818:16, and the damages to the MANITOBA, with interest, at $7,470. Under the decision the COMET was entitled to recover only $28,694:95, with interest at 6 per cent and costs. An appeal was taken to the United States Supreme court, which now sustains Judges Dexter and Brown.
The Marine Record
Thurs. June 16 1887 p. 4

Screw COMET. U. S. No. 5683. Of 621 tons. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1857. First home port, Buffalo, N.Y. DISPOSITION — Collided with MANITOBA, August 26, 1875 on Lake Superior, 11 lives lost.
Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States
Lytle – Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868


On August 21, 1861, BANSHEE (wooden propeller freighter, 119 foot, 166 tons, built in 1852, at Portsmouth, Ontario, named HERO in 1860-61) was carrying wheat, flour and butter to Montreal when her engine failed (broken shaft) and she was helpless in a storm on Lake Ontario. She foundered near Timber Island on Lake Ontario. One passenger died, but the crew of 10 made it to Timber Island. She was owned by Howard & Rowe of Quebec.

BANSHEE Propeller, cargo flour and etc.,sank near South Bay Point

N43 56 29 W76 50 43

, Lake Ontario. Total loss, one man drowned.

Buffalo Commercial Advertiser

Jan. 22, 1862 Casualty List, 1861

. . . . .

Loss of Propeller BANSHEE.

The Propeller BANSHEE with a cargo of grain went down at Timber Island, in South Bay, in the gale of Wednesday night. She was owned by Mr. Rose of St. Thomas, and had on board 6000 bushels wheat, 250 bbls. flour and 300 kegs butter. The machinery breaking, the vessel became unmanageable and got into the

trough of the sea, when she went down; but only one life was lost, a passenger named John Nagle, a printer. The others were saved, ten getting safely to shore in the small boat, and seven by holding onto floating timber.

The purser, Mr Scott, saved the books and cash under his care. The Propeller is a complete wreck, all her upper works having been washed off before she was abandoned by the crew. The vessel lies in 18 feet water, in a good position to be raised.

Several telegrams reached Kingston yesterday afternoon from parties, who, on hearing of the wreck, had mistaken the propeller for the steamer of that name, and who, having friends on board, were solicitous for their safety. The steamer BANSHEE, we are glad to state, went down the river at her usual hour yesterday morning, having bravely withstood and passed through the worst of the storm between Cobourg and Kingston.

Weekly British Whig (Kingston)

Friday, August 30,1861

. . . . .



The steamer RANGER, passed the propeller BANSHEE sunk in 18 feet of water between the Duck’s and Timber Island, one person was drowned, a passenger belonging in Montreal. The crew are all safe on the Island, these are all the particulars yet known.

It was too rough for the RANGER to get the crew off the Island, this is reported by the purser of the Ranger.

The BANSHEE plied as a freight boat between Montreal and Port Stanley, she left the latter port in the bedinning of the present week, with a general cargo, and passed through the Welland Canal on her way down a couple of days ago.

The vessel was owned by Captain Howard of the steamer MAGNET & Mr. Chas. Rose, of St. Thomas and is said to be insured.

Toronto Globe

Friday, August 23, 1861


. . . . .



Residents on the shore of Babylon to the cliffs of Cape Versey, Marysburg Township, probably fared better than usual during the winter 1861-62, because they were able to salvage from waters surrounding the Sweatman Island, some of the cargo of the Propeller BANSHEE, which went to the bottom of Lake Ontario in the vicinity of Timber IsLnd one mile off the Point Traverse mainland.

A bad storm was sweeping across the lake that day, Wednssday, August 21st, 1301, when the ship’s machinery broke down. Floundering about helplessly in the troughs of the heavy seas, the ship soon broke up and sank, being a complete wreck.

Ten persons were saved when they hurriedly clambered into a small boat and seven persons floated in on a piece of wreckage, Mr. John Nagle, a printer was drowned.

The cargo of the banshee comprised of some 3,000 busheIs of wheat, 250 barrels of flour and 300 kegs of butter, She was owned. by a Mr. Robe of St. Thomas, Ontario.

On Sunday, October 15th, 1967, Mr. Dennis Kent and members of the Quinte Aqua Divers, Belleville, found the wreck of the propeller BANSHEE, which was lost one mile off Pt, Traverse,

The remains of the wooden ship is in some 24 feet of water on the Timber Island Bar.

Over the winter months the location was lost; but on July 30th after nearly two months of searching by.Quinte Aqua Divers, It was re-found and pinpointed. The BANSHEE is currently being explored by the Quinte Aqua Divers,

A page from the Q. A. D.’s Newsletter, 1969



On 20 August 1852, ATLANTIC (wooden sidewheeler, 267 foot, 1,155 tons, built in 1849, at Detroit, Michigan) was loaded with immigrants when she collided with the propeller freighter OGDENSBURG and quickly sank south of Long Point on Lake Erie at about 2:30 a.m. Of the 600 on board, estimates of death range from 150 to 250. Numerous salvage attempts have been made through the years up through 1989, since there were supposed to be valuables on board when she went down.


Any one that watched the Sea Hunters or Dive Detectives knows the story of the ATLANTIC

The Wreck is also has the bonus of this near by Philips: Submarine, built in 1851, sank while being tested prior to attempting a salvage dive on the Atlantic. Unless I am mistaken, this is the oldest surviving submarine in existence and is therefore the most historically valuable wreck in Lake Erie! Philips was a Chicago shoemaker who began building submarines with the intent of salvaging Great Lakes shipwrecks. He built his first submarine at age 20, but it was crushed on its maiden voyage. This is his second submarine and was a success during testing. He is reported to have used it to take his family on tours of the bottom of Lake Michigan. Apparently the depths encountered at the Atlantic were too much for the hull and it sprung a leak and quickly sank. Philips later built and sold at least one recreational submarine which led to the drowning of its purchaser and his dog in Lake Michigan. Rumor has it that the wreck of this vessel has been located very close to the Atlantic.

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Categories: Lake Eire Technical Dive


The package freighter ARIZONA was launched on August 19, 1868, at Cleveland, Ohio by Quayle & Martin for E.T. & J.C. Evans of Buffalo, New York.

Located at N44 06 55 W76 24 40 Arizona is located southwest of the ferry landing on the south shore of Wolfe Island near the red buoy. Built in 1868 Arizona caught fire December 4, 1922 and without adequate water hose protection was towed 1.5 miles upstream where her sea cocks were opened and she sank into 25 ft. of water. She was a wooden propeller barge with a 765 ton displacement with a length of 186 ft. and a beam of 33 ft.

At Milwaukee the steamer ARIZONA and consort PLYMOUTH will both receive repairs about equal to a rebuild. The ARIZONA will be double decked. The steamer RUBE RICHARDS and consort MAY RICHARDS, also wintering on Lake Michigan will receive repairs costing about $6,000.

The Marine Review

December 24, 1891

Steam screw ARIZONA. U. S. No. 1768. Of 765 tons gross. Built 1868. On Dec. 1, 1922 with 12 people on board vessel burned at Cape Vincent, Lake Ontario and became a total loss. No lives were lost.

Loss of American Vessel Reported during 1923

Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1923

Steam screw ARIZONA. U. S. No. 1768. Of 765 tons gross; 601 tons net. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1868. Home port, Oswego, N.Y. Freight service. Crew of 12.

Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1920

Detroit, May 8 – The propeller BLANCHARD from Buffalo for Chicago and the propeller ARAZONA from Sault Ste. Marie for Buffalo, collided today at noon at the head of the St. Clair Flats, the latter sinking in four fathoms, she was laden with flour and wheat.

The Toronto Mail

Friday, May 9, 1873


On 10 August 1890, TWO FANNIES (3-mast wooden bark, 152 foot, 492 gross tons, built in 1862, at Peshtigo, Wisconsin) was carrying 800 tons of iron ore on Lake Erie when a seam opened in rough weather. The crew kept at the pumps but to no avail. They all made it off of the vessel into the yawl just as the bark sank north of Bay Village Ohio. The CITY OF DETROIT tried to rescue the crew but the weather made the rescue attempt too dangerous and only two men were able to get to the steamer. The tug JAMES AMADEUS came out and got the rest of the crew, including the ship’s cat, which was with them in the yawl.

Location: 5 miles north of Bay Village, Ohio
Coordinates: LORAN:  43773.0    57385.3
GPS:  41 33.855     81 55.281
Lies: bow east                               Depth: 60 feet
Official #: 24144
Type: three masted bark               Cargo: Iron ore
Power: towed
Owner(s) Captain Alfred Miller (50%), Aldrich of Hillsdale & Baldwin of Kinosha
Built: 1862 at Peshtigo, Wisconsin by George O. Spear
Dimensions: 152’ x 33’ x 12’  Tonnage: 492.24 gross  467.63 net
Date of Loss: Sunday, August 10, 1890
Cause of Loss: sprung a leak in heavy seas

Two schooners were lost early yesterday morning off Cleveland harbor. The schooner TWO FANNIES sprung a leak and sank as day was breaking, The crew consisted of Capt. Miller, Mate Losier, Second Mate Bull and Alexander Last; Harry Anderson; Claud Merchant and James McDonald. All escaped safely in a yawl. The boat carried stone and was fully insured. The schooner FANNIE L. JONES was swamped by the heavy seas just outside Cleveland. Capt. E. C. Cummings of Milan was drowned. The Cleveland life-saving crew saved the JONES’ crew from the rigging.
Buffalo Evening News
August 12, 1890

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Two sunken wrecks on Lake Erie should receive attention as obstructions to navigation. The schooner FAYETTE BROWN, sunk a short time ago near the dummy in collision with one of the Northern Steamship Company’s steel boats is in the channel of boats passing to and from Buffalo, and outside of Cleveland a short distance northwest of the piers the spars of the schooner TWO FANNIES, which foundered in a gale last season, are but a few feet below the surface of the water. Mr. M.A. Bradley, owner of the FAYETTE BROWN, says she is not worth raising a and no one claims the hull of the sunken TWO FANNIES, which is certainly a total loss.
Marine Review
July 16, 1891

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The schooners FANNIE L. JONES and TWO FANNIES sank in Lake Erie during a gale. No particulars.
Daily British Whig, Kingston
August 13, 1890

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Categories: Boat Dive Intermediate Lake Eire


Photo mosiac by NOAA

On the night of August 9, 1865, METEOR met her running mate, the propeller PEWABIC, off Thunder Bay on Lake Huron around 9 p.m. As the two approached, somehow METOER sheered and struck her sister, sinking the PEWABIC within minutes in 180 feet of water. About 125 people went down with her, and 86 others were saved.

GPS Location: N44°57.890′ W83° 06.236′
Depth: 165 Feet
Wreck Length: 200 Feet Beam: 31 Feet
Gross Tonnage: 979 Cargo: Copper and iron ore, passengers
Launched: 1863 by Peck and Masters at Cleveland, Ohio
Wrecked: August 9, 1865
Description: The Pewabic ran from Cleveland to Lake Superior ports. It was two years old when it sank off Thunder Bay in a collision with the steamer Meteor. Steaming southward, it headed close enough to the Meteor to pass mail and news between the two ships, but the Pewabic unexplainably cut across the Meteor’s bow making a collision unavoidable. The ship suffered a large hole in the port bow and sank within minutes taking at least 33 passengers and crewmen. Several attempts were later made to retrieve the valuable copper cargo, using diving bells, clamshells and dynamite. They left the hull intact, but all of the cabins were destroyed.


PEWABIC Propeller of 738 Tons, built 1863, sunk by collision with propeller METEOR off Thunder Bay, Mich. Lake Huron, Aug. 9, 1865. Vessel a total loss with the loss of 40 lives.
Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
Lytle-Holdcamper List 1790 to 1868

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PEWABIC Sinks in Three Minutes – SEVENTY-FIVE LIVES LOST – Capt. McKay Saved

Rescued Passengers at Detroit
The intelligence received here this morning that the propeller METEOR, upward bound, had run into and sunk the propeller PEWABIC, has sent thrills of indescribable horror to the heart of the whole city. The news yet received is meagre and unsatisfactory, but sufficent to convey the melancholy information that many lives have been lost. The facts so far as we have been able to obtain them are these:–The propeller PEWABIC heavily loaded with ore from the mining region, and with a large load of passengers, downward bound, and due here today was run into by the propeller METEOR, of the same line, upward bound, in the darkness, on Wednesday night, in Thunder Bay, lake Huron. The PEWABIC went down in three minutes, in fifty fathoms of water. The dispatch received states the number of lives lost at seventy-five to one hundred.
A good many of our prominent citizens were on either the PEWABIC or METEOR, but it cannot be determined, in all cases, which, as tickets were issued good for either boat. The Rev. Dr. Goodrich and family took passage on the PEWABIC but nothing of their fate has been learned. The accident occurring in the night when many of the passengers had probably retired to their state rooms, the great freight of ore which caused the boat to sink in three minutes, only adds to the terrible features of the calamity.
Captain McKay of the PEWABIC, was saved, is in Detroit, and will be here tonight. The METEOR went on up the lakes, no doubt after doing all that could be don to save the unfortunate passengers of the ill-fated PEWABIC. (part)
Cleveland Plain Dealer
August 11, 1865

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Detroit, Aug. 11.
A collision between PEWABIC and the METEOR occurred at half past 8 o’clock, Wednesday evening, six miles from shore.
The PEWABIC was struck on her port bow just aft the pilot house and sunk in three or four minutes.
The boats were running at full speed and struck with such terrible force as to crush in the entire bow of the PEWABIC.
At the time the accident occurred it was scarcely dark and the boats saw each other six miles apart. When approaching they exchanged signals and the PEWABIC bore off to pass, but the METEOR, for reasons as yet unexplained, turned in the same direction and they struck. A number were killed by the crashing timbers, and a few passengers jumped on board the METEOR before the PEWABIC sunk.
Life boats were immediately lowered from the METEOR and picked up those who were not carried down with the wreck.
There was from 175 to 200 passenger on board the PEWABIC. The names of 75 passengers and 23 of the crew are known. Loss of life cannot be correctly ascertained yet, but will be near one hundred.
The METEOR remained near the scene of the disaster until morning in the hope of picking up any persons that might be still floating on pieces of the wreck, but none were found.
The propeller MOHAWK, passing down, brought the survivors, transferred to her from the METEOR, to this city. The METEOR was but slightly injured and continued her trip to Lake Superior.
The following named passengers are known to be lost: Miss F.Hosmer and Miss Frank Ryder, Haughton; Miss Tyler, Tiffin, O.; Calvin M. Wright, Detroit; Mrs. Wm. Wells, Ann Arbor; wife and four children of Edward Levan, Canada East; wife son and daughter of Henry Mitchell, Lake Superior; Lewis James, Rockville; Miss Hannah Kelly, Illinois; Wm. Ottrell, Cleveland; Miss Julia Ramsey, Tiffin, O.; Mrs. Hall and two children, Copper Harbor; W. O’Neill, Cleveland; Thos. Blackwell, Ontonagon; John Tracy, Cleveland.
Crew Lost: 1st. Engineer R.G. Jackson and wife, Detroit; 1st. cook Samuel Bowles, Detroit; greaser, Henry Chaler, Cleveland; chambermaid, Mary Cleveland; porter, Big Jones, Cleveland; bartender, Daniel Cares, Marquette.
Passengers Saved: C.J. Porter and wife, Elgin, Ohio; Mrs. Chas. Mills, Elgin, Ohio; A.L. Foster, Churchill, Canada West; Mr. Reno, Canada West; Mr. Levan and three children, Canada East; Henry Whitehall, Lake Superior; Samuel Aubraker, Port Huron; Eugene Peck, Newark, Ohio; A.M. Tilden, Cumberland O.; W. Hatham wife and child, Bridgewater; Mr. L.L. McKnight and wife, Detroit; Mrs. Coll Gardner, Detroit; Miss Ada Brush, Detroit; Master William Whiting, Detroit; Miss Kate C. Jones, New York; Miss Mary M. Fotte, New York; Jefferds, New York; Mrs. Kauffmann, Martina, Ohio; Mrs. G. Honstation, Canada West; J.H. Ashmead, Hartford, Conn.; Frank Mahstadt, Detroit; Louis Shazer, Quebec; John Shields, Portage; Patrick McCunn, Massachusetts; J.D.Baker, Detroit; J.M. Bucklin, Hamblin; J.B. Roberts, Ohio; B. Mercer, Columbus, Ohio; Wm. Morrison, New York; James Drille, Eagle Harbor; John Bushen, Canada; John Blaser, Detroit. W.B. Mackeller, Ohio; John Frazer, Michigan; Daniel Graham, Michigan; Joseph
Montall, Portage; Benjamin Barn, Mich.; Wm. Balto, Canada; Michael Sullivan, Mich.; M. Graham, Marquette; Chas. Labonant, Canada; Michael Doyle, Massachusetts; Jas. Connelly, Eagle Harbor; H.A. Brano, Canada West; W. McLean, Canada; John Jameson, Canada; Henry Knight, Illinois; Theodore G. Lester, Detroit; Wm. E. Hall, Copper Harbor; Dr. M.C. Lewis, Cleveland; Charles Harris, West Hebron, N.Y.; John Brennan, Cleveland; James Rose, Cleveland; Thomas Blair, Cleveland; Andrew Flowers, Cleveland; Michael Sullivan, Cleveland; Thos. Fitzgerald. Phila.; Wm. Reed, Cleveland; Charles Hunt, Toronto; Wm. Keating, Ohio; John Bryant, Ontonagon; H.C. Parks, wife and two children, Hancock; Capt. Wm. Causin, Haughton; H. Russel, Memphis, Tenn.; S.M. Rumsey, Seneca Falls,
N.Y.; Mrs. C.M. Wright, Detroit; Dr. S.H. Douglass, daughter, and two sons, Ann Arbor; J.W. Cherry and wife, Delaware, Ohio; J. Warman, wife and daughter, Troy, Ohio.
Crew Saved: Capt. George McKay, Cleveland; George Cleveland, Cleveland, first mate; second mate, Frank Dugo, Cleveland; lookout, John McKay, Cleveland; clerk, Charles A. Mack, Detroit; secone engineer, Wm. Kennedy, Cleveland; steward, John Lynch, Detroit; porter, John Mooney, Cleveland; second porter, John Miller, Cleveland; deck hand, John Kelley; wheelsman, Edward Mooney, Cleveland.
Detroit, Aug.11.
No further particulars have been received from the scene of the late catastrophe on Lake Huron. Capt. McKay of the PEWABIC, has gone with a small steamer to cruise about the spot where the PEWABIC sunk. It is proposed also to send a diver to the wreck. The books and papers of the ill-fated steamer were lost. It is, therefore, impossible to give a full list of the passengers who were on board, but the list already telegraphed comprise all that were saved.
The PEWABIC was built last year, and she is valued at $100,000. She was insured for $60,000.
Erie Daily Dispatch
Saturday, August 12, 1865

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The Mate of the PEWABIC Acquitted.– On Tuesday last Geo. F. Cleveland, Mate, who had charge of the Propeller PEWABIC when that vessel was sunk by collision with the METEOR, in August last, was arrainged in court at Detroit charged with neglect and misconduct on the night of the disaster.- The case was given to the jury on Thursday, who soon returned a verdict of not guilty. The verdict is said to have given universal satisfaction.
Toledo Blade
April 9, 1866

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We made a brief notice of the dreadful accident by which from 70 to 100 persons their lives by a collision of two steamers at Thunder Bay. The telegraph, as usual, was not correct, the locality of the accident being a long distance from Detroit. We are able to give further particulars. It seems, from an account in the Detroit Tribune, that the evening was a tolerably clear one, although it had been somewhat rainy, and the lights of each steamer were discernable by the other at a distance of 6 miles. A moderate breeze prevailed and the water was rough. The course of the PEWABIC was on the side towards the shore, and that of the METEOR on the opposite tack, by which they would steer clear of each other. The movement of each steamer was plainly observed by the crew as well as passengers upon the other, and the fact of their coming together under such circumstances cannot be explained except on the hypothesis of an almost unaccountable blunder on the part of some one. When Captain McKay saw that a collision appeared inevitable, he blew his whistle as a signal to the other boat to keep out of the way, which signal, so far as it is known, was not
responded to. He then ordered his wheel to be put to starboard, which would tend to put her out of danger by taking his boat farther in towards shore. From all we can gather, it is rendered probable that the wheelsman of the METEOR, not having properly understood his orders, or by mistake of some kind put his wheel to port, instead of the contrary direction, which he ought to have taken. He thus brought his bows in a direct line with the port side of the PEWABIC, and the fact of striking the steamer so squarely in the side would seem to confirm this theory of the cause of the catastrophe; although it is possible that a full
investigation may present the affair in a different phase so far as some particulars are concerned. The bows of the METEOR, which are long and sharp, struck the PEWABIC almost at right angles under the pilot house, opening her to the width of twelve or fifteen feet, and cutting her down to the water’s edge.
There were probably at least 150 persons on board, including the crew, and consternation and dismay fell like palsy upon hearts which only a few brief moments before overflowed with mirth and gladness. The scene was one which beggars description, but was soon over. Within four minutes of the collision the PEWABIC sunk, carrying down with her from 70 to 100 persons, as nearly as the number can be estimated. Many of those on the bows of the ill fated steamer had the presence of mind to jump on the deck of the METEOR; others were saved from drowning by the heroic exertions of friends, and many were subsequently
picked up by the boats of the METEOR.
The survivors held a meeting on the METEOR and the Secretary makes the following statement:
At about 8:30 on Wednesday evening, 9th. inst., the propeller PEWABIC, Capt. McKay, on her down trip, about 8 miles from shore, came in collision with the METEOR, Capt. Wilson, on her upward voyage. The METEOR struck the PEWABIC just under the pilot house, literally smashing her bow. The boats were running at a rate of about 12 miles an hour, and the crash was awful, causing the PEWABIC to go down in the short space of 3 or 4 minutes. A number were killed by the crashing timbers. But few of the passengers of the PEWABIC had time to jump from her decks upon those of the METEOR, ere the wreck of the PEWABIC sunk entirely out of sight beneath the seething waters. The sight was terrible and heart-rending as the cries and groans of the unfortunate passengers rose upon
the rolling swells of the surging billows. The life boats of the METEOR were lowered in due time and a number saved from untimely and watery graves.
Mr. Jackson, the engineer, was a trusty man, and was well calculated for the position. He stood manfully at his post, and, with his wife, went down with the boat. The tear, that silent tribute, will often be shed in honor of his valorous deed.
Several noble and heroic incidents occurred worthy of mention, one or two in particular. The most memorable of which was performed by Miss Eda Bush, (a daughter of E.A. Bush, Esq., of this city.) This lady, by her cool and determined efforts, not only saved her own life by expert swimming, but that of Mrs. C.M. Wright, whose husband was drowned with a lady clinging to his neck.
Miss Bush saw Mrs. Wright struggling in the water some distance from her, and with great presence of mind she swam to her rescue, pushed a floating spar up to her, and thus saved her from the terrible fate of her beloved husband. The manifestation of such fortitude on the part of this lady will be ever remembered by those who were witnesses of the terrible catastrophe. Mrs. L. McKnight, of this city, and others whose names have not come to hand, also displayed a spirit of determination seldom witnessed.
Capt. McKay was one of the last upon the wreck, and upon leaving the sinking vessel, of which he was so proud, he saved the life of Miss James, of New York. Mr. Cleveland, the mate, worked to the last, and cut loose one of the life-boat just as the ill-fated PEWABIC went down. He was also one of the last on board.
The cause of the catastrophe would seem to be criminal carelessness on the part of the pilot of the METEOR, as that boat, in passing the PEWABIC, does not appear to have conformed to the law regulating such cases, which the PEWABIC did.
Erie Daily Dispatch
Tuesday, August 15, 1865

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The loss in property by the dreadful accident on Lake Huron is very great. The cargo of the PEWABIC was a very valuable one. The Detroit Tribune says:
The estimated value of the copper is about $130,000. We have no particulars as to the insurance of the cargo, but, as is customary, it is no doubt fully insured.
The “Lake Superior Express Company” had about $55,000 in cash in their safe which they will make an effort to recover. We understand they are about to make arrangements through the Home Insurance Company for the services of their diver who was to have started for Buffalo last night to procure some extra air pipes.
Messrs. J.T. Whiting & Co. have despatched Capt. McKay, late of the PEWABIC with a number of men, on board the propeller SKYLARK, to cruise about the spot at which the PEWABIC was sunk, for the purpose of recovering any bodies and property that may come to the surface. They also, as we understand, propose to send a diver to the wreck as soon as one can be obtained for the purpose.
Erie Daily Dispatch
Wednesday, August 16, 1865

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An effort is to be made to reach the sunk steamer PEWABIC by means of diving bells to secure the treasure that went down and any bodies that may be in the wreck. In the safe of this ill-fated steamer there is an immense amount of money belonging to the Express Companies, commercial men and passengers, and next week an effort will be made to reach it. The wrecking steamer MAGNET, of the Home Insurance Company, will be brought into requisition, and Mr. Pike, of Buffalo, will do what can be done as sub-marine diver. He has gone to Detroit, and will commence operations at once, and continue them as long at practicable. The water is thought to be about 180 feet deep where the steamer went down, and Mr. Pike has operated successfully at a depth of 200 feet. To reach the safe of the PEWABIC, he will be compelled to cut his way through two decks.
Erie Daily Dispatch
Saturday, August 26, 1865

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The Detroit Tribune says: There is every indication that the authorities are determined to fully probe the affair of the late collision, and not only place the blame where it properly belongs, but take the proper steps to secure the punishment of the culpable parties. On Saturday George Cleveland, mate of the PEWABIC, was arrested by the marshal on a warrant issued by the District Court, and lodged in jail. As the accused will be compelled to undergo an examination we will not at this time dwell upon the affair at length. The penalty, in case of conviction, will be imprisonment in the State Prison.
Erie Daily Dispatch
Friday, September 1, 1865

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THE PEWEBIC. – The search for the steamer PEWABIC has proved unsuccessful. A life boat and the buoys carried off by the economical tug captain are all that have been or will be recovered. The diver went down 147 feet, and remained under water twenty minutes at a time. So intense was the cold at that depth that he nearly froze to death. Trees of immense size, apparently petrified, were found lying on the bottom, but no trace of the steamer.
According to the decision of the Board of Inspectors in Detroit, the responsibility for the collision between the PEWABIC and the METEOR rests wholly upon the captain and first mate of the PEWABIC. George Cleveland, the mate, has given $3,000 bonds to appear at the next term of the U.S. Court at Detroit. We have seen no account of the captain having been arrested.
Erie Daily Dispatch
Thursday, September 7, 1865

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Stmr. CANADA, wrecked on Bar Point, Lake Erie. Her machinery was taken out and the hull abandoned.
Steamer TRAVELLER, wrecked on a rock on Lake Superior. Her engine and machinery have since been recovered.
*Propeller PEWABIC, sunk by collision with propeller METEOR, in Lake Huron. Several attempts have been made to raise her, but without success.
Propeller STOCKMAN, burned at Bear Creek, Canada.
Tug PILOT, burned at Algonac, on St. Clair River.
Steamer WINDSOR, burned in Detroit River on the night of the disastrous confragration of the Detroit & Milwaukee Depot.
Brig ROBERT HOLLISTER, wrecked on Lake Michigan.
Schr. H.H. BROWN, wrecked on Sandusky Bar.
Schr. L.D. COMAN, lost near Erie, Pa.
Schr. E.C. BLISH, wrecked on Lake Michigan.
Schr. K.L. LANSING, wrecked on Lake Michigan.
Schr. ILLINOIS, not certain as to this vessel, but think she foundered on Lake Michigan with a cargo of stone. – Detroit Free Press, 21.
Buffalo Daily Courier
August 23, 1866

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The steamer H.A. ROOT, which was last season chartered to the American Wrecking & Salvage Co. of Milwaukee, for the purpose of recovering the copper cargo on the sunken steamer PEWABIC, arrived in port Saturday. The ROOT was fitted out with a dynamo, complete wrecking outfit and a diving bell, invented by a Milwaukee man. She has been chartered for this season to recover the PEWABIC’s cargo. It is expected that the ROOT will leave for Lake Huron in a week.
Detroit Free Press
June 1, 1897 10-2

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The correspondent of the Evening Wisconsin at Alpena has the following to say regarding the old wreck of the PEWABIC: “Although the PEWABIC has been sunk in Lake Huron for 27 years, in 26 fathoms of water, yet, like some ghosts we read of, she will not remain quiet, and thus stories about her come to light every few weeks. In a recent interview with Capt. Ripley, a well known citizen of this city, concerning the ill-fated steamer, was learned some new facts in regard to the vessel. At the time of the disaster Capt. Ripley was in the
employ of the company that owned the PEWABIC, and with others was sent with a wrecking vessel to discover where the PEWABIC lay, and to endeavor to raise her if possible. The wrecking party soon found where the vessel was laying on the bottom of the lake by means of grappling irons. While at work their grappling iron got foul of some obstruction near the wreck and when the obstruction had been brought to the surface, the wreckers found they had brought up a yawl and the crane to which it had been fastened. On the stern of the yawl was the name PEWABIC. She was lying in 26 fathoms of water, about 6 miles southeast of
Thunder Bay Island Light. A trunk belonging to the mate of the PEWABIC was also found. The pilot house of the PEWABIC came to the surface and held to the wreck by a chain and served as a buoy to locate the place where she lay until a storm tore it loose from its fastenings. The three sunken vessels, mentioned by Capt. Quinn, of Detroit, do not lie in that vicinity. As regards the copper, said the Captain, it will be found at the bow of the PEWABIC, as the steamer went down head first, Her engines were going at the time she took her last plunge. As the stern rose out of the water the propeller wheel revolved with great rapidity, and as soon as it struck the water again, it must have assisted greatly in
speeding the steamer, head first to the bottom, and all the copper could not help but slide to the bow. Capt. Ripley thinks that the vessel found by the PELKY last summer is the PEWABIC.”
Buffalo Daily Courier
April 4, 1892

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Women In A Diving Bell See The PEWABIC On The Floor Of The Lake.
Alpena, Mich., July 14. – Captain and Mrs. Parsons of Thunder Bay Island and Mr. and Mrs. Case of Alpena went down to the steamer PEWABIC wreck in the Smith diving bell, remaining an hour and a half. These are probably the only women who ever went down in 160 feet of water and came up alive. A good view was had of the steamer and the party experienced no inconvenience.
Buffalo Evening News
Wednesday, July 14, 1897 4 – 4

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From the Engineer of the METEOR
Editor Marine Review:—In your issue of July 15 a Detroit correspondent gives an account of the memorable collision between the steamers PEWABIC and METEOR. The account is pronounced interesting, but it is incorrect in particulars. I I chief engineer of the METEOR for nine years, and as I was in charge of her engines at the time of the collision, I feel that I should know something of facts pertaining to the sad affair. The METEOR and PEWABIC were built in Cleveland in 1863 by the late Capt. E. M. Peck for J. T. Whiting & Co. Members of this company were the late J.T. Whiting, W.D. Walbridge and L. McKnight. These vessels were first-class freight and passenger propellers of about 850 tons, elegantly fitted out, and they were speedy for those days, as they made 11 1/2 miles an hour regularly, and could be forced to a speed of 15 miles. They were two of the finest boats then afloat on the lakes. Their officers were as follows: METEOR—Captain, Thomas Wilson; mate, Byron Mills; purser, Charles Atwood; steward, Thomas Ryan; chief-engineer, John M. Cronenweth; second-engineer, Thomas Bucanan. PEWABIC. Captain, Geo. P. McKay, mate, George Cleveland; purser, Charles A. Mack, steward, John Lynch; chief-engineer, Charles R. Jackson; second-engineer, Wm. Kennedy.
On the night of the collision the METEOR was bound up Lake Huron with a full load of passengers and the PEWABIC was bound down. The weather with us (on the METEOR) had been very fine up to the time of the collision, but officers of the PEWABIC reported that they had for some time been running in mist and rain. It was quite plain to my mind that the main cause of the collision was the deceiving weather, mist, rain and some fog. On both boats the mates were on watch when the collision occurred. The mate of our vessel, the METEOR, said that he saw the white and green lights of the PEWABIC two points off our starboard bow about three minutes before the boats came together, and it was claimed that if the PEWABIC had kept her course the boats would have passed each other in safety; but it was held by this same source of evidence that all at once the PEWABIC shut out his green light and showed his red light. The METEOR’s wheel was put hard aport and one blast of her whistle sounded, but it was too late. A mistake had been made, and in a few seconds the METEOR crashed into the PEWABIC, cutting her about two-thirds in two It has always been my opinion that the mate of the PEWABIC was deceived by the condition of weather ‘end had misjudged the distance between the two vessels. He thought he had plenty of time to pass to starboard. Many of the passengers who were saved jumped aboard the METEOR while the boats were wedged one into the other. About three minutes after separating, the PEWABIC went down bow first. The pitiful cries of the drowning, struggling for help, are still in my memory, and will remain with me while memory lasts. Both crews did all they could to save life, but it was difficult to find people in the water. On account of the mist and rain the rescuers could be guided only by the cries for help. Your Detroit correspondent says he saw the lights of the PEWABIC an hour before the collision. This is ridiculous, as two boats running at a speed of 11 1/2 miles would have covered together a distance of 23 miles in an hour, and every sailor knows that a boat’s lights cannot be seen for quarter of that distance. He says further that after the collision the METEOR began to fill very rapidly, that all of the mattresses and blankets were taken to fill up the hole, and that he, with most of the other passengers, was kept at the pumps the greater part of the night to keep the vessel from sinking. All this is wrong. As a matter of fact there was not a hand pump on the METEOR. Immediately after the collision I connected up the steam pumps, with which the METEOR was well supplied. She had one 8-inch pump worked from the main engine, three 8-inch pumps worked by the hoisting engine, two 3-inch syphons and a boiler pony, piped to pump bilge water. All were started, but it was soon found that two pumps were sufficient to keep her free. A hole in the bow of the METEOR was large enough to drive a horse through it, and it extended down to within 18 inches of the water, but we got the foresail around the bow and remained in the vicinity of the wreck until daylight.
“As there was nothing to be seen in the morning, we went on to the Sault, arriving there about noon. We made temporary repairs and were intending to proceed on our voyage up Lake Superior, but while going through the lock, about 7 AM., we discovered fire working through the forward hatch. The passengers took their effects and went ashore. The METEOR was hurried into the guard lock and every effort made to put out the fire, but as we had made no headway up to after noon, I opened all the seacocks and allowed the vessel to fill with water. With the boat sunk to her deck the fire was soon extinguished. We then closed the upper guard gate and let the water out of the canal. The vessel was, of course, cleared of water at the same time. After closing the valves and opening gates to let water into the canal again, the vessel was soon floated. We fired up, relieved her of such water as remained, and were again at a dock discharging cargo. A hurried run was made to Detroit for repairs, and we were soon in Cleveland again, ready to take our regular time for the next trip. But in Cleveland the METEOR was libeled by underwriters for $200,000. Her owners refused to furnish bonds and she remained out of commission for the balance of the season.
Among officers of the PEWABIC who were lost was Mr. Jackson, the chief engineer. His young wife, who was making a trip with him, was also lost. He was a noble fellow, a good engineer, and he had many friends. No doubt, he might have saved himself had he made the effort, but he stood at his post of duty like a true “knight of the throttle,” and went down with the ship, his wife with him. He died as he had lived unselfish to the end. In early days of steamboats on the lakes it was customary, when boats were meeting in the day time (not at night) to check down and pass close together, so as to give an opportunity to throw a bundle of newspapers from one vessel to the other. At this particular period, during the late internal war, passengers were particularly anxious to get war news from the papers. There were no railroads and no telegraph connections, even with the upper Michigan peninsula Your Detroit correspondent says that these two vessels were trying to pass close to each other in order to exchange papers. This is another mistake. We did not know what boat we were making until after the collision. He says further that we sent for a tug from Alpena to take the PEWABIC’s passengers to Port Huron. In this he is also mistaken, as it was the propeller Mohawk that was hailed to take the rescued passengers to Detroit. George Cleveland, mate of the PEWABIC, who was in charge of her at the time of the collision, was arrested and tried for manslaughter before Judge Wilkins of the United States district court. The present Justice Brown of the United States supreme court was then prosecuting attorney, and Wm. A. Moore of Detroit defended Mr. Cleveland. A number of captains from Cleveland came to Detroit to give testimony in the mate’s behalf, among them Capt. Benjamin Sweet Capt. Edward Turner, Capt. John Spaulding and others. They vouched for his ability, trust worthiness, etc., and they agreed that he acted according to his best udgment under the circumstances, which were of a deceiving nature. He was promptly acquitted.
J.T. Whiting & Co. were among pioneers in vessel business of Lake Superior In the early sixties they controlled about two-thirds of this trade In those days all contracts ended on the first of October, and for the balance of the fall vessels could charge what they saw fit. I have seen $22 a ton paid for carrying copper from Ontonagon to Detroit and $6 a ton paid as freight on pig iron from Marquette to Detroit. On our way up the estimated value of every square foot of room was $1, and there was always enough freight left on dock when we were leaving to load another boat. Often the mate would have a $10 bill slipped into his hand by an anxious shipper who wanted a jag of freight moved at once and would not wait for the next boat. But the ups and downs of life were with us then as now, and the steamboat business lacked stability. Take the case of J. T. Whiting & Co. In the spring of 1864 they owned seven boats, namely, the steamer ILLINOIS, and propellers METEOR, PEWABIC DETROIT, MINERAL ROCK, GEN. TAYLOR and SKYLARK. Not needing all of them, they sold the DETROIT, GEN. TAYLOR and SKYLARK, and during the summer they laid up the MINERAL ROCK for a rebuild. A short time before the METEOR-PEWABIC collision, the ILLINOIS broke down and made a complete wreck of her engine. Then, with the PEWABIC sunk and the METEOR tied up, the company was without a single vessel. They were forced to charter vessels to fulfill their contracts, and as a result of the collision the firm was practically ruined.
Detroit, August 10, 1897. JOHN M. CRONEWETH,
588 East Fort Street.
Marine Review
August 12, 1897

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Fatality While Men Were at the Sunken Wreck of the Old PEWABIC.
Milwaukee, Wis., June 20. – Word was received here last night of the drowning of George Campbell and Peter Olsen at Thunder Bay while engaged at work in a diving bell recovering the cargo of the sunken steamer PEWABIC, which was lost about 20 years ago. Campbell was the founder of the famous diving bell and a son of Gardiner Campbell, founder of the centennial bell. When the bell was raised it was found both men had been drowned as they were working, by water which burst through one of the glass windows.
Buffalo Evening News
Monday, June 20, 1898

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Alpena, Mich., May 26. – The wrecker MARY MILLS, with the Smith diving bell, arrived from Milwaukee this morning to begin work on the PEWABIC for the season. It is expected that much of the vessel’s copper cargo will be recovered this year.
Saginaw Courier-Herald
May 27, 1900

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The MARY MILLS, which recently added another to the long list of the futile attempts to recover the copper cargo of the lost PEWABIC, has given up wrecking and was at Milwaukee Monday with a load of lumber which she brought from Marquette.
Saginaw Courier-Herald
July 12, 1900

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Among the older vessel men, the sinking of the propeller PEWABIC in collision with the propeller METEOR, off Thunder Bay island, Lake Huron is not forgotten. The great loss of life the number was never definitely ascertained-made it a memorable event in lake history. Two veterans in lake navigation and men widely known, Captains George P. McKay and Thomas Wilson, were masters of the boats, the former in the PEWABIC and the latter in the METEOR. Captains George Cleveland and Byron Mills, two men still in active service, were the mates in charge when tile collision occurred. Interest in the disaster is now revived through the efforts of C. A. Coon and others of Duluth to locate the sunken PEWABIC and secure her cargo. Visionary stories have been told of the value of the cargo, one rumor saying the boat went down with $20,000 in gold aboard, but it is not probable that the Duluth parties have undertaken the work of raising the boat or portions of her cargo with any thought of fabulous wealth in store for them, as they are preceding in a sensible way. They are now at Alpena with the steamer EMERALD, which they chartered from W.R. Durfee of Ashland, and have written Capt. McKay for information that will assist them in locating the wreck and also for a statement of the boat’s cargo. The cargo consisted of 270 tons of copper, 17.5 tons of pig iron, 200 sheep skins, sixty-seven rolls of leather and other merchandise less valuable. The boat is in 128 feet of water and on this account it has been thought impossible to raise her, or even secure any portion of her cargo, but the wreckers now at Alpena claim to have diving appliances specially suited to work in deep water. It is said that they propose to use a sheet iron armor of some kind for the diver going into the water at such great depth, but they are not giving out much information regarding their plans.
The Marine Review
October 29, 1891

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The MARY MILLS, which recently added another to the long list of the futile attempts to recover the copper cargo of the lost PEWABIC, has given up wrecking and was at Milwaukee monday with a load of lumber which she brought from Matinette
Saginaw Courier-Herald
July 12, 1900

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Green moss covers the rotting white oak timbers of a ghost ship at the bottom of Thunder Bay, seven miles off Thunder Bay Island and abreast of Alpena…. Although the passenger list was lost with the ship, it is believed nearly 100 persons perished. The bodies of only two were recovered. And in later years 10 died in efforts to recover the ship’s cargo valued at $600,000. The Pewabic went down into some 180 feet of water in a collision with a sister ship, the Meteor, on Aug. 9, 1865.
The ships, owned by the Pioneer Lake Superior Line, were two of the finest and newest vessels on the Great Lakes. Their captains were eager to outdo each other and, as is the custom whenever the ships met on the Great Lakes, greetings were exchanged and packages and messages were thrown from one ship to the other as passengers and crews crowded the rails. The Pewabic passed through the Soo Locks and headed down Lake Huron. Aboard were soldiers from the Mackinac Island garrison, having been relieved of duty as the Civil War had ended just a few months earlier.
There was a slight fog and mist but the lake was not rough. The Meteor was sighted coming up the lake from Detroit. The two ships exchanged signals. A dance was in progress on the Meteor and preparations were being made for a dance aboard the Pezvabic as dinner had been just completed.
When the ships were only 20 feet apart, an officer on the Pewabic became confused and gave the wrong order to the wheelsman who swung the ship directly into the path of the Meteor. The Meteor’s prow crashed into the Pewabic about 20 feet aft of the bow, directly under the pilot house, and nearly cut the ship in two. The Pewabic rolled away from the Meteor, exposing the large hole in her side. She sank in five minutes as a heavy copper and iron cargo pulled her down. Although badly damaged, the Meteor stayed afloat and its crew was able to save many from the Pewabic.
There were many acts of heroism. One man aboard the Pewabic picked up his child in nightclothes and handed her over the rail to the Meteor as her prow clung to the hole in the Pewabic He turned back to save his wife in the same manner but they were both drowned. Captain Thomas Wilson of the Meteor later adopted the child, never learning her real name. Some passengers were thrown from the decks into the water and were dragged under by others trying to get help. Many were trapped below decks and never had an opportunity to escape. The lifesaving station at Thunder Bay Island effected some rescues, picking up chiefly members of the crew.
Pewabic Captain George McKay was one of the last to escape the sinking ship. As the water reached the deck where he was trying to help passengers to safety, he grabbed a rope thrown from the Meteor. As the ship sank beneath him, Captain McKay was hoisted to the deck of the Meteor.
Passengers picked up by the Meteor still were not safe. A fire broke out in her cargo and pumps were going all night to keep her afloat. At daybreak, the Meteor Burned Over all the rescued and some of her own passengers to the passing propeller steamer Mohawk which was downbound to Detroit.
The Meteor continued on to the Soo and there at the dock the fire got out of hand. The ship years later was converted to a barge.
The memory of the disaster might have faded if it had not carried a valuable cargo. Lost treasure exercises a strange fascination over men’s minds and the Pewabic was no exception. Her $600,000 cargo, including more than 250 tons of pure copper and $40,000 in a strongbox, was a lure that some could not resist.
Ten divers in all went to their deaths in efforts to salvage the cargo. Famous diver Billy Pike was the first victim, in late 1865. He was brought up dead from the terrific pressure. Several expeditions between 1880 and 1884 were unsuccessful and three divers were killed. The next effort was in 1891, when a party from Ashland, Wis. made repeated attempts to reach the wreck with divers. One did, but he died in the depths.
Captain John Persons of Alpena, who was a boy of 14 living on Thunder Bay Island when the Pewabic sank, helped Worden G. Smith locate the wreck in 1895. Smith, of the American Wrecking and Salvage Company, invented a new type of diving bell capable of holding several men and permitting considerable movement. Five men in the bell were killed attempting to reach the Pewabic in her grave and the company gave up its efforts. Into the 20th century the Pewabic lay untouched, far beneath the currents and agitation of the great storms. Then in 1917, B. F. Leavitt of Toledo arrived with a new type diving suit, capable of descending to a depth of 300 feet. His diver found the Pewabic’s rigging and structure still intact. Skeletons were found in the cabins, trunks open and the garments of the 1860’s hanging on the bulkheads. The pure cold water had preserved all but the bodies. Cheese and quarters of beef were in the steward’s pantry.
From the staterooms and saloons he brought up souvenirs that brought high prices on the Alpena shore. There were rings, watches, an ancient revolver, gold coins and walking sticks. The safe was recovered but of its $40,000 content only one $5 bill and one $1 bill remained intact. In all, between 70 and 72 tons of copper were raised and 40 to 50 tons of iron ore. Overall value is placed at $40,000.
In recent years, skin divers have been active near the wreckage. But most are content to let the Pewabic lie untouched. The ghost ship of Thunder Bay has suffered enough.
The Alpena News
August 7, 1965

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