Category: Still Missing



The steamer ASIA sank in a storm off Byng Inlet on Georgian Bay September 14, 1882. Over 100 people lost their lives with only two people, a man and a woman, rescued. ASIA was built in St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1873, and was bound from Collingwood, Ontario, to the French River and Canadian Sault.

Special Telegram To The Inter Ocean.
Collingwood, Ont., Sept. 17. — The following report has just reached here by the hand of Captain John Davis, of the tug MINNEHAHA, sent from Parry Sound by Mr. J.C. Miller, which gives the details of the loss of the steamer ASIA, of the Great Northern Transit Line, which left here Wednesday evening last for the French River and Sault Ste. Marie:
” Parry Sound, Sept. 17. — Captain A. McGregor reached here yesteday by tug from Owen Sound, and reports passing the wreck of a steamer off the Limestone Island, he picked up and brought with him a trunk, a door, and a pillow-slip marked ‘Steamer ASIA.’ About 10 o’clock this afternoon an Indian boat reached here from Point Au Barrie, about thirty miles distant, bringing Mr. D.A. Tinkiss, of Manitowaning, and Miss Christy Morrison, from near Owen Sound, supposed to be the only twp survivors of the il-fated steamer. Mr. Tinkiss made the following statement:
” I went aboard the ASIA at Owen Sound about midnight on Wednesday, in company with J.H. Tinkiss and H.B. Gallagher, both of Manitowaning. The steamer was crowded, all the state rooms being full and many passengers lying on the sofas and cabin floors. All went well until about 11 o’clock Thursday morning, when a storm struck the steamer. I was in my berth at the time. My Uncle, J.H. Tinkiss, jumped up and said the boat was doomed. Dishes and chairs were flying in every direction. We left the cabin and found difficulty in getting on deck, the boat was rolling so heavily. I got a life-preserver and put it on. The boat went into the trough of the sea and would not obey her helm. She rolled heavily for about twenty minutes, when she was struck by a heavy sea and foundered.
with her engines working, about 11:30 o’clock. The ASIA was making for French River, and had men, horses, and lumberman’s supplies for the shanties there. I saw three boats lowered. I was in the first boat. About eight were with me at first, but more got in, till the boat was overloaded, and turned over twice. Parties were hanging on to my life-preserver, which got displaced. I threw it off, then left the boat and swam to the captain’s boat, which was near by, and asked Mr. John McDougall, the purser, to help me in. He said it was but little use, but gave me his hand. When I got in there were
in the captain’s boat, and by that time there was a large number in and clinging to the boat I had left. I know nothing of the third boat. Our boat rolled over, and I remember missing poor John McDougall a few minutes after he helped me in. Pepole were hanging on to the spars and other parts of the wreckage. Our boat was full of water and the sea was constantly breaking over us. One of the first to die was the cabin-boy. he was dying and being supported by one of the men when a wave washed him overboard. Next to go was a boat-hand. He was near the gunwale and jumped out. I could see him
for nearly a hundred yards. Our numbers were now reduced to seven, five of whom died before reaching the beach. Captain savage was the last to die in my arms about midnight. On Thursday Mr. John Little, of Sault Ste. Marie, the mate McDonald, and two others, names unknown, died. The boat finally stranded near Point au Barrie about daylight Friday, with Miss Morrison and myself the only two survivors. I put the bodies out on the beach and pried the boat off with an oar, but did not bail it out. Miss Morrison and I went down the beach to a derrick, about one and a half miles distant, and laid on the beach all the night. About 8 o’clock Saturday morning an Indian came along, and I engaged him to
He would not bring the bodies.’
“The steamer NORTHERN BELLE, of the same line, which reached here this morning, has been furnished with ice, etc., and has left for the bodies. Miss Morrison and Mr. Tinkiss are being well cared for here, and Dr. Potts thinks neither will suffer materially from their long exposure. There were probably about 100 on board the ASIA.”
The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, September, 1882
. . . . .

Partial List Of Passengers.
A Collingwood dispatch gives the following list of those known to have been on board the ill-fared propeller ASIA, which foundered on Georgian Bay Thursday forenoon:
Wm. Christie and wife, just married, Collingwood.
A.M. Clinton. B. Morey. Mr. & Mrs. W.H. Wood, Cincinatti.
A. Browse. Mr. Shipp. Mr. Duncan and son, Hamilton.
J. Martin, Collingwood.
A man named Kerr and family, Linne House, Ontario.
W.R. Gallagher, Manitomanny.
J.H. Tinkiss, Manitowomanny.
Mr. McNabb and Mrs Hanbury, of Owen Sound.
Mrs. Sproudt, of Cookstown.
There were also about 30 lumbermen on board bound for the lumber camps up the French River and at other points.
A Toronto dispatch says: The Government Inspector here states that the ill-fated Steamer ASIA was running without a license, having been refused one on account of carrying an insufficient number of life boats and life preserver.
The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, September, 1882

[ part missing] These he took from the raft at Port Hope, and were named A.D. McDonnell, foreman, Orillia; D. Chisholm, Parry Sound; Isaac Lecarte, Stayner; Joseph Despatries, Coteau; Wm. Heavenor, Orillia; Hugh Mcneil Scott and Joseph Quinn, of England, both just out a few weeks; Dan and Rory McDonald, rama; Betham, Rama; Robert Marshall, of Port Hope; and Murphy, of Orillia. Most of these men were old hands, and several married. A.D. Macdonnell and Isaac Lecarte were widowers. As the propeller ASIA was about moving off Joseph Despatries handed Mr. Macdougall $160, and asked him to place it to his credit. The amount will probably be handed over to deseased’s friends Besides these men, there arrived from the vicinity of Arthabaska, Que., a number of Frenchmen. Mr. Macdougall had only time to transfer them from the express train to the boat. Their names which have not been previously published, are as follows:
Jacques and Andrew Terry; Julian Janan; James and Felix Jondreau; Octave Valise; Peter Dumo; Peter Roberge, Sr.; Peter Roberge, Jr.; Joseph Lascelle, and Robert Borrelle. There are others unknown. It has been reported that Frank Jordan, of Rosseau, N. Y., was on the ill-fated boat, but Mr. Macdougall says this is not so. There were about thirty men for the French River, eight horses, outfits, and a large amount of supplies. His actual loss has been $6,000. Mr. Macdougall had four boats on the ASIA. The schooner REDNOUGHT, which the ASIA towed, belonged to him. Whether she cut loose from the propeller or broke loose it is hard to say. She was capable of carrying 40 persons. The new canoe found at Byng Inlet belonged to Mr. Macdougall. Mr. Macdougall intended to go to French River himself, but the weather prevented him. During the spring he sent a quantity of lumber from French River to Port Hope, where it was rafted and made ready for a trip down the river. At Collingwood the weather looked rough, and he decided to come to Kingston and see if the lumber had arrived safely. It was well he did. He said he understood that the ASIA was a very fair craft. When she went out everything about her looked well.
The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, September, 1882
. . . . .

The steamer ASIA is lost on Georgian Bay in the storm of september 14. Over 100 lives are supposed to have been lost. The spot where she foundered is about 35 miles northwest of parry Sound.
Port Huron daily Times
Monday, September 18, 1882

. . . . .

It is now known that at least 56 were drowned from the ASIA.
Port Huron daily Times
Tuesday, September 19, 1882

. . . . .

It now appears the ASIA had 122 on board when she was lost last Tuursday. Of this number 97 were passengers, though the craft was overloded and only allowed by inspectors to carry 49.
Port Huron daily Times
Thursday, September 21, 1882

. . . . .

ASIA, propeller of 364 tons reg. of St. Catharines and 9 years old, on a voyage from Presque Isle to French River, foundered of Byng Inlet owing to stress of weather, with the loss of 92 lives on Sept. 14th. 1882. She was valued at $25,000, but the value of her cargo is unknown…
Dept. of Marine & Fisheries
Statement of Wreck & Casualty for 1882.

. . . . .

The statement of Mr. Shipp of Toronto, who left the ASIA at this port, which we published last week, as to a conversation he overheard between the Captain and a person whom he took to be the Inspector, has since been corroborated by Mr. A. Bowes, who left the boat with him. As we stated last week, the statement about an Inspector could not be true, as there was no inspector here, and if there was, such a discussion with the Captain was not a probable one. An explanation is now given which throws some light on the incident. It appears that Captain Campbell, one of the managers of the Line, had just arrived from Toronto and went on the dock, when seeing the fishing boat in tow of the ASIA some conversation took place about the danger that she would not reach French River as there was an appearance of rough weather — Captain Campbell at last saying to the captain of the ASIA, ” You tow her and I’ll risk her.” The conversation being heard by Mr. Bowes was taken to refer to the steamer instead of the fishing boat, and hence the misunderstanding, — a misunderstanding however, which saved the lives of Messrs. Shipp and Bowes. —-Times.
Meaford Monitor
Friday, October 6, 1882

. . . . .

The wooden propeller “ASIA,” of St. Catharines, 364 tons register, foundered off Byng Inlet in the Georgian Bay, on the l4th. of Sept. while on a voyage from Collingwood to French River with a general cargo. The vessel encountered an unusually severe storm, and suddenly listed over to starboard shortly after 11 o’clock in the fore-noon and gradually sank. A number of people got into one of the lifeboats but it turned over several times, each time losing some of the people who were in it, so that at sun-down, when the gale subsided, only seven were left. Of these five died from exposure, leaving only two survivors, a Miss Morrison and a Mr. Tinkiss, who reached land in a very exhausted condition by drifting ashore on the beach, and were subsequently rescued by an Indian, who took them in his boat to Parry Sound on the 17th. of September.
An investigation into the loss of this vessel was held by Capt. P.A. Scott R. N., Chairman of the Board of Examiners of Masters & Mates, who reported, that as far as could be ascertained, the vessel was not in good ballast trim, and that she was of that class of vessels known as”Old Canal Propellers.” The vessel appears to have been too light forward, and therefore unable to luff when the gale struck her, but had to bear it’s whole force on her broadside. It also appears that she had not sufficient cargo in her hold to enable a vessel of her description, with lofty upper works, to stand up against the gale.
It is estimated that 100 people lost their lives by this casualty. The vessel was nine years old, and was valued at 25,000 dollars. She was owned by the North-West Transportation Co. of Sarnia, and was classed A 2 in Inland Lloyds.
The Superintendent of the Meteorological Office at Toronto, reports as follows, with reference to the storm in which the ASIA was lost.
An examination of the synoptical weather chart for 10+50 p.m. Toronto time of the 13th. September, shows a comparatively unimportant depression situated over Manitoba. The gradients were not excessive nor was there anything to lead one to anticipate that within
twelve hours the wind would blow with the force of a hurricane on the northern part of Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay. On the morning of the 14th, at 6+50 A. M., Toronto time, the next chart was prepared; this shows that the depression, which on the previous night lay over Manitoba, had now moved to the north shore of Lake Huron, the gradients having steepened and the curves closed up in the center; this depression had thus travelled upwards of five hundred miles in eight hours, its rapidity of translation and intensity of development being exceptionally great.
The”ASIA” is reported to have left Collingwood at 5 P. M. on Wednesday, l3th, and making the usual stoppages at Meaford and Owen Sound; she left the latter place early on the morning of the 14th. for Sault Ste. Marie. This course would take her directly in the track of the storm, which by nine o’clock in the morning is reported from Manitoulin Island to have reached the velocity of a hurricane. In this storm however, the area of greatest intensity seem to have been confined to a comparatively limited region, as from the southern part of Lake Huron, from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario the force is reported as a fresh to strong gale, and this is what was to be anticipated from the appearance of the weather charts, as the Isobars widen out over the southern part of the lake region, thus showing a gradient for a less heavy gale there, than in the northern portion. The unfortunate ASIA would most probably have been about 11 A. M. in the center of this depression, and the squall which is reported to have struck her at this hour would probably be the gust accompanying the change of wind after the passage of the center. In almost all storms, this first squall is the heaviest experienced during the gale, and its appearance may be looked for when the sky begins to cloud up again after the brief clearing interval found in the center of these storms, especially in those where, as in this case, the gradient was steeper towards the center.
The question is frequently asked, was this gale such a one that even a well found and well handled ship must necessarily have foundered ? To this I can only answer that, I have no reports of instrumental measures, of the velocity of the wind at Manitoulin Island, as we have no anemometer there; but from the general damage done, and some of the particular cases quoted. I believe that the force of the wind must have been almost that of a hurricane for a short time and over a limited area, and as such gales, although, fortunately rare, do occasionally pass over the Great Lakes, all vessels navigating them should be so constructed and equipped as to be prepared to meet them.
Steamboat Inspection Boards
Chairmans report for 1882

. . . . .

That Awul Night In Georgian Boy Ten Years Ago.
(Toronto News.)
“D.A.Tinkis, Little Current.” This name and address appeared on the register at the Walker House early this week. The name is one which ten years ago was familiar to every person in Ontario as that of the sole male survivor of the ASIA.
The ASIA, it will be remembered, was a propeller that went down in the Georgian Bay ten years ago last month, carrying with her, with the exception of Mr. Tinkis and Miss Morrison, the 200 unfortunates who formed her passenger list and crew.
In conversation with the News, Mr. Tinkis yesterday told again the story of that terrible disaster. “I went aboard at Owen Sound, in company with my Uncle, on the night of September I882 ” he said. “It was blowing heavily from the southeast at the time, but we were anxious to reach our home on the Manitoulin, and beside we did not anticipate any special danger.
“The steamer was billed to call at French River, on the east shore of the Georgian Bay on the way up. We went to bed soon after going on board, and, although a gale was raging all night, we did not feel it very much until morning, as we were still under shelter of the Bruce Peninsula.
“About seven o’clock, as we changed our course to run straight across the bay for French River, the sea, now quartering aft, began to shake us up pretty well. Very few had breakfast on this account, but still no great alarm was felt. At nine the sea was raging and from that until ten the crew was busied in throwing over freight.
“Between ten and eleven the excitement was terrible. Men and Women, crazed with fear, were rushing around tearing the hair from their heads in handfuls. Rev. Mr. James, who had been a missionary at the Island, was one of the few passengers who kept cool, and he went about among the others administering the consolations of religion, and urging all to be calm.
“But it was of no use. The wind suddenly chopped from the south west to the northwest, and with a crash the vessel rolled over on her beam ends. The sea was now a mountainous whirlpool and the ship was helpless. The aft gangway leading from the promenade to the main deck, was jammed with men, women and children who could get neither up nor down. At every pitch this mass would writhe and twist like a serpent while the waves broke over then from above. The horses in the meantime-there were about ten or then aboard — had broken loose and at every roll they were thrown from one side of the main deck to the other.
“About this time my uncle and I, with a number of the passenger moved up to the promenade deck forward of the cabin. W.D. Henry, of king Township, was there too. In a little while we were joined by purser MacDougall, carrying the books belonging to his office. As soon as I saw that I knew that whatever hope there night have been before was all gone. The cabin was already broken in at several points, but still the old craft floated. At last about 11:30 she pitched up at the head and went down stern first, the cabin breaking off, and the boats, crowded with people, floated as she did so. At the very first sea however, the cabin went to smash and the mass of people hanging on to it were thrown into the sea, which was now running steadily from the northwest and in mountainous waves. I was in one of the wooden boats. It was crammed with people and scores hung on to the sides and others further out in the water clung to them again. But this could not last long. The sea soon broke the hold of those in the water and filled our boat at the same time.
“As soon as she was about to sink I sprang over and swam for the metallic lifeboat. There were great combs on every wave, and these, loaded with debris, broke over my head every time I came up on a crest. My hands and head were both cut and bleeding, but I reached the lifeboat and managed to clamber in.
“Notwithstanding the horror of the scene, it was incomparably grand and awe-inspiring. Every time we went down in the hollow we seemed in a valley of endless length with towering mountains on both sides. Some were still hanging to pieces of floating wreck, but we were driving fast before the sea and soon lost sight of wreckage and the other boats as well.
“Behind was the gulf into which two hundred had just sunk out of sight, all about was a mountainous sea and no land was visible from any quarter. There were about thirty people in the boat when I first got in, but as we only had one oar and could not direct her she upset in passing over almost every wave, and at each upset some were lost.
“There were two brothers — Sparks, of Ottawa — aboard. They were splendid fellows. At one upset a woman grasped him around the neck and pulled him down. The other seized the life line and held on to the side for two hours. We each had all we could do to take care of ourselves and none could give him a hand. He was too weak to pull himself in, but for two hours he held fast to the line and floated. It was the finest exhibition of nerve and endurance I ever saw in my life. But at last he had to let go and was drowned.
“About 7:30 in the evening we came in sight of Byng Inlet Light. The wind had gone down, but the see was still high. Of the thirty with whom are started but six were now left: Captain Savage. Mate McDonald, and a man named Little from Manitoulin, a Montrealer, Miss Morrison and myself.
“I thought — we all thought — these would all live to reach the shore, although two hours before a French deck-hand had gone crazy and jumped overboard. As the light gleamed over the billows we all led by the Mate, began singing “Pull for The Shore.” But the song ceased, and one by one the singers fell into that sleep that knows no waking. The Montreal man died at eight o’clock; Little went next and the Mate — who had been singing so joyfully, a little over three hours before – succumbed at eleven. I felt the premonitory symptom myself; an intense cold followed by numbness in the finger tips, and than the warm glow and drowsiness accompanied with an almost overpowering desire to dose. But I knew that 15 minutes of that meant the beginning of the eternal sleep and I resisted. Three time I aroused the Captain from his lethargy and told him he was dying, but it was of no use, and he too, crossed the bar about midnight.
“Our boat was still full of water and as each one died I placed the body under the seat to prevent it from being washed out. There was no sleep for Miss Morrison or myself that night. At daybreak we found ourselves about ten miles below Byng Inlet and drifting toward the islands that dot the shore.
“Between ten and eleven we struck land at Point aux Barrie, where the tugs take the inside channel for Parry Sound. This was on Friday. But even yet death stared us in the face. We were far from help and could not navigate our boat. All day and all night we stayed there with starvation staring us in the face until it seemed as if we had escaped the fierce billows to die of hunger. During the night I fell asleep, but not to rest. In my dreams I saw again the horrors of the day previous and starting up suddenly I fell into the water. I struck out, but in the darkness and confusion I took the wrong direction and soon found myself heading out into the open lake. I turned back and in a few minutes reached the shore, but at another point. Then I called for Miss Morrison but she was too weak to answer, and it was not until after considerable time had elapsed that I found her.
“At last, on Sunday morning about 9, we saw a sail. We were both almost delirious and thought it a large vessel, although it was only an Indian mackinaw. I hoisted my coat on the oar and the Indian came over.
“We had practically been without food since the previous Wednesday evening and this was near noon on Sunday. But the Indian had fat pork and “chock dog,” and from that I obtained the best meal I ever had in my life.
“I tried to get the Indian to take us to Manitoulin, but that was eighty niles off and too far for the Indian. Instead he agreed to run us to Parry Sound and we reached Sunday morning (?). The first man I met was ‘Josh’ Belcher, then of the ‘BELLE’, but purser on the ATLANTIC. You may be sure I never was so glad to see anyone in my life.
“J.C. Miller — he is dead now, poor fellow — took charge of me. Never shall I forget his kindness or that of his family. They could not have done more for me had I been their son.
Mr. Tinkis was a youth of about eighteen when the disaster occurred. He is now a prosperous business man at Little Current and shows no ill effects of the horrible experience of ten years ego. But his eyes moistens and his voice shakes even yet when that awful time is recalled to memory…
Meaford ‘Monitor’
Friday, October 21, 1892


No Comments

Categories: Lake Huron Still Missing



On 11 September 1883, EXPLORER (2-mast wooden schooner, 48 foot, 33 gross tons, built in 1866, at Chatham, Ontario) struck rocks and went down on Stokes Bay on the outside of the Bruce Peninsula. Her crew was visible from shore clinging to the wreck until the vessel broke up. All five were lost.

MARINE ITEMS. – The yacht EXPLORER was wrecked at Cove Island, in Georgian
Bay on the 11th ult. Two lives were lost.
Erie Daily Dispatch
Saturday, November 30, 1867

. . . . .

The Schooner EXPLORER, owned by Mr. Hert (sp?), of Chatham, was capsized on Middle Rock, near Yeo Island, Lake Huron, and sad to say two men, named respectively Wm. Starnes and Jack —-, single men, both lost their lives, the Master, Waddel, alone reaching the shore after the accident. The vessel was about half laden with supplies for a saw mill on Georgian Bay, and merchandise for a trading adventure, sailed from St. Clair Rapids on the 8th inst., steering for the Detour Passage to Bruce Mines where it was intended to call. A violent gale blew without intermission from that time till the morning of the 11th, during which the fore-boom had been carried away and the vessel repeatedly “hove
to.” On the 11th, she was headed for the channel leading to Georgian Bay, but before reaching Owen Sound Channel, several snow squalls had whitened all the shore and darkness setting in before the passage could be made, the vessel was hauled up for the ship channel, where she got into a patch of that shoal water and the sea broke so heavily she was thrown on her beam ends, and the cargo shifted to port, causing her to drag along, with her lee rail under water in a dangerous position. The bulkhead between the cabin and hold was at once chopped out to admit a man going through. One hand went in with a lantern and reported load shifted under fore-hatch and other places, but that it could be re-trimmed
without much trouble if the vessel could be kept steady fifteen minutes. Both hands then went into the hold taking a hand spike, and leaving another hand with the master at the wheel, to signal on the deck in case of danger. One or two signals on fancied dangers were made, and the men finally went below, saying “five minutes would complete the job”. Almost immediately the proximity of shoal water was apparent from the roar of heavy breakers. One huge sea was making up to windward when the vessel was kept away and received it under the stern, which it lifted almost perpendicularly up, breaking about
amidships, filling all the decks up with water, rushing the vessel forward and driving her against the rocks, which she struck with such force with her forefoot or Bowsprit, that her whole cargo fell forward with a crash into her bow, doubtless crushing the two men below, to death instantly. Her sails gibed at the same time, the main-boom tearing away from the blocks, and going adrift. The next sea was preparing to break astern, the master abandoned the wheel and sprang into the main rigging – the sea broke over the vessel eight or ten feet
deep, capsizing her clear over, mastheads under water, tearing off cabin doors, and throwing her stern around, head to sea; successive breakers dashing against her, washed her off the rocks into deep water, where her bow sank down to an angle of about 60 degrees, leaving her stern floating about five or six feet out of the water. The breakers had thrown the yawl boat on top of the cabin upside down, and when the vessel began to drift stern foremost, the waves washed her off again. The master clung to the stern of the vessel from the time she
capsized (about 7 or 6 p.m.) till noon the next day; during which interval her succeeded in clearing the boat off the davits, and in bailing her out with the ships bucket, which, with an oar and pike pole, were lashed to the same rigging he had sought safety in.
The wind having changed to N.W. and blowing towards Cabot’s Head, the master left the vessel and succeeded in reaching the shore. From Cabot’s Head the master worked his way around, with the yawl boat and an oar all round the coast in a famished condition, having only a few fish to exist on, to Colpoy’s Bay, which he reached on Monday last, the 25th. inst., in such an exhausted state that assistance was required to enable him to be removed from the boat to the Tavern. Two men were sent from Colpoy’s Bay to look for the vessel, which it was supposed, might have drifted ashore near Lion’s Head in Dwyer Bay. — Toronto Globe n. d.
Owen Sound Comet
Friday, December 6, 1867
. . . . .

About fifteen years ago Captain Waddell, of Chatham was sailing a small two masted schooner, EXPLORER, in to Tobermorey Bay, with a cargo of whiskey, pork, and mill castings. The crew consisted of the captain and two sailors. The EXPLORER never reached her destination, and was supposed to be lost with all hands. Subsequently the Captain turned up and reported that the vessel had been lost on the reef near Bear and Flower Pot Islands, and that the two sailors had both gone down with her, while he alone escaped. The vessel was insured and the Captain got the insurance money.
The next season Captain Waddell was drowned on a trip in a small boat to Flower Pot Island, where he went, it is alleged, for the purpose of taking away the cargo of the EXPLORER, the theory being that he had landed the cargo and afterwards scuttled the ship.
Suspicions of foul play were rife at the time, but the vessel could not be found, and the interest in the matter died away. Five or Six years ago the EXPLORER was discovered by Chas. Earle, of Tobermorey in the bay, in about seventeen fathoms of water, several miles from the reef alluded to, but nothing was done to raise her until recently, when the Port Huron, Wrecking Company sent a wrecking tug, and raised her and towed her into Tobermorey Bay, where she now floats.
A diver who descended into the vessel where she lay before she was moved states that she lay on her bean ends and he could not get into the cabin, but after she was righted, he went down a second time and found the cabin door had opened and he saw a corpse of a
man upright in the cabin. After the schooner was towed to shallow water the body could not be found, and it is supposed that the motion of towing had caused it to float away from the wreck.
The suspicions of the cause of the loss of the ship were fully confirmed by the discovery that there are thirteen two-inch auger holes in her bottom, and from eight to ten tons of stones, but not a particle of cargo.
The wrecking tug proceeds next to the Western Islands, where it is intended to raise the ‘FOREST KING’ which sank in a snow storm in the month of November about eight years ago. She was a three master, and loaded with coal.
Meaford Monitor
Friday, June 30, 1882

. . . . .

Other Side Of The Sensational Narrative
Ever since the raising of the wreck of the lost EXPLORER, a story has being going the rounds of the press, in some cases receiving fresh additions from the recording scribes, reflecting most severely on the memory of the late Captain Waddell, and causing his family no little personal anguish. From competent authority we gather the following as the true history of the vessel and its wreck:–
The schooner was built by the late John Waddell in 1866 for a yacht, and was capable of carrying some 2,500 bushels of grain in her hold; she cost about $5,000. In the Fall of 1869 he loaded her for the Georgian Bay, not with “Whiskey” or “goods valued at “$18,000 ” or capable of being insured at such a figure, but with goods for Collins’ lnlet, where he had a large mill, then and now known as “Waddell’s Mills. The goods were valued at $2,000, and vouched for by respectable firms, some of whom are now in existence and were insured for the sum of $1,500 and the hull for $2,000.
There was nothing in the condition or position of the vessel at the time of her raising that would contradict the affidavit of Mr. Waddell, as filed with the company who had the insurance on the hull.
Mr. Waddell’s statement was that, feeling the vessel getting lower in the water, he called to the men who were below, but getting no response he jumped into the yawl boat and cut her adrift. When last he saw the schooner she was drifting in the direction where found. He was delayed by storm for five or six days before reaching Owen Sound, the nearest inhabited place, and as of course he left the schooner without anything, he was in a pitiable state he. he reached the Sound, being in bed delirious for two weeks after his arrival,
We have ourselves examined the bottom of the vessel for auger holes or signs where some had been plugged up, but could find none. There were no skeletons found in the vessel when raised, as reported. The door of the cabin was pulled off by a vessel grappling for the wreck, together with part of the cabin, that ten men could not move with brute force,
The exact position of the vessel was not found for seven or eight years after the disaster, but the tale regarding the same (at first originated From wholecloth) has been repeated and retold so often that it has at least begun to be believed as true, and thus given to the papers as bona fide. There being no cargo of any great value in her at the time, the insurance on it was not claimed, and no more than ordinary precautions were taken before the hull insurance was paid.
Why a vessel-owner would make away with a craft that cost $5,000 the year before, for the sake of drawing an insurance of $2,5OO is beyond conjecture.
None of Mr. Waddell’s sons have since died, but all are successful business men at the present time. —Goderich Star
Says That He Found Twelve Auger Holes In The Bottom, And Also A Body And Several Tons Of Stone. — ( From the Port Huron Times ):–
The story recently published about the finding of the lost schooner EXPLORER, which was sunk about fifteen years ago in the Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, has revived a great deal of interest that was manifested at the time the vessel was sunk. The statement that Captain Waddell, who was in command, had planned to defraud the insurance companies and also caused the death of the sailors, is credited by some newspapers as being true, while others emphatically stamp it as slander upon a dead man. Captain Waddell was well known in Goderich, and a few years after the EXPLORER was lost, he was drowned. The Goderich Star published a long article denying the story printed in several local papers, and stating that the editor had examined the bottom of the boat and could not find any auger holes, and further that no bodies were found in the hold or cabin by divers. The article in the Star is replied to by R.G. McCulloch, a submarine diver of this city, who examined the boat and claims to have found the auger holes and some of the wooden plugs in the hold, and also the perfect body of a man and the bones and putrid flesh of another; but he does not pretend to say who scuttled the schooner. He writes as follows.
To the Editor of the Port Huron Times.
Sir,- I see by your valuable paper that the Goderich Star denies the fact that the schooner EXPLORER was scuttled and sunk, as published in the local papers. I was one of the divers that worked on the EXPLORER and gave the report to the press concerning the scuttling of that craft, and from personal knowledge know that the EXPLORER was scuttled.
It the Editor of the Star will get the Harbor Master of Goderich, and go on board the EXPLORER and lift up the ‘limber’ boards, the Harbor Master (who thoroughly knows his business) will show the editor of that paper where he can find twelve inch and-a-half holes; eight on the starboard side and four on the port side.
I will further state that the schooner was stripped of all her sails, blocks, rigging, and booms, and the sheet blocks were cut with a cold chisel, and part of the links left on the traveller; and the lamp and compass were taken out of the binnacle box.
The schooner was weighed with ( as near as I can judge without weighing ) fifteen ton of stones, and thirteen lockers in the cabin were also filled with stone. There was one perfect body found on board with a shirt and pair of pants on, and the bones and putrid flesh of another was found on deck, having evidently floated out by the surging of the water while we were working at the wreck. The hatches were spiked down, and the hatch bars on and securely fastened. I also found seven of the plugs in the hold of the vessel that had been used to stop the holes until all was ready. The small door leading from the cabin to the hold of the vessel was also out. The cabin door had been locked and the key left in the lock, but the door was lying on the deck, having been torn off by an anchor or grapnel. I have no hesitation in saying that the schooner was scuttled and then sunk.
Mr. Lewis who claimed to own the schooner, asked me to say nothing about it in Goderich, as, he said, ‘The schooner had been under water for several years; but the name was perfect on the quarter and stern, as follows;
Who scuttled the schooner, I do not know, but the facts I have stated can be proved by a dozen witnesses.
Hoping you will publish this, I remain Yours Truly,
R. G. McCulloch, Submarine Diver
Port Huron, August 3rd. 1882

The Port Huron Tribune says: — D. S. Gooding is the name of a Chicago Attorney who thinks he has a clear case of libel against the Tribune because we published the Waddell — Explorer affair.
He is cordially invited to wade in and try it. We have the best authority for every statement made in that article and are prepared to back it up at any time. We do not state it as a fact that Waddell scuttled the EXPLORER, but gave the story told by himself and the condition in which the vessel was found. People can draw their own inferences! Another item in the same paper reads thus: Every word of that article about the schooner EXPLORER, recently published in the Saturday ‘Tribune’, is true and can be verified under oath if necessary. Among the witnesses would be found, Capt. H. N. Jex, of this city, Capt. Matthew Watts., R. G. McCulloch and D. Fectau, all of whom were present at the raising of the vessel. Capt. Jex personally assisted in plugging up the twelve auger holes that had been bored in the bottom of the vessel, and his crew spent nearly half a day removing the stone with which she had been filled.
Meaford Monitor
Friday, August 25, 1882

. . . . .

NOTE : — The EXPLORER, raised in 1882 was lost the following year, Sept. 4, 1883 on Greenough Bank, near Stokes Bay, Bruce Peninsula

No Comments

Categories: Lake Huron Still Missing



I’m thinking no one really cared about one of the last remaining working schooners on the lakes.  Unlike the others, she just disappeared on the Sodus – Picton coal run.  The most famous thing about her is that S.O.S.  Uses a photo of her and likeness on their promotional material.

1926 BURT BARNES, a wooden three-masted schooner, foundered in Lake Ontario while carrying 210 tons of coal from Sodus Point to Picton. The crew abandoned the ship in the yawl boat near Picton and were blown across the lake and came ashore safely 12 miles west of Rochester.

Other names : none
Official no. : C150489
Type at loss : schooner, wood, 3-mast
Build info : 1882, G.S. Rand or Rand & Burger, Manitowoc, WI US#3193
Specs : 96x25x7 134g 127n
Date of loss : 1926, Sep 3
Place of loss : 12 mi SE of Picton, Ont.
Lake : Ontario
Type of loss : storm
Loss of life : none
Carrying : coal
Detail : Foundered off Lake Ontario’s Long Point during a gale. Bound for Picton from Sodus Pt., NY. Her crew abandoned her in a patched-up lifeboat and landed near Rochester, NY, 32 hours later.
Sold Canadian in 1904. Registered out of Kingston in 1926.
One of the last working schooners on the lakes.


September 1, 1892, the upbound WESTERN RESERVE, flagship of the Kinsman fleet, sank approximately 60 miles above Whitefish Point. There were 31 casualties among the crew and passengers. The lone survivor was Wheelsman Harry W. Stewart.


The Mammoth Western Reserve Foundered Tuesday Night.
Remained to Tell the Tale of the Wreck and Loss of the Crew.

He Was One of the Most Widely Acquainted Men on the Lakes – His Family Among the Missing.
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich., Sept. 2. — The fish tug E. M. B. A. arrived down last night having as a passenger Harry Stewart of Algonac, a wheelsman, the only survivor of the mammoth steel steamer WESTERN RESERVE which foundered Tuesday night about 9 o’clock 60 miles above White Flab Point, on the course to Keeweenaw.
The WESTERN RESERVE, up-hound and light, left the Soo Canal Tuesday afternoon having on board as passengers Capt. Peter Minch, her owner, his wife, three children and his wife’s sister, besides the regular crew of 22 hands.
The story as told by Stewart is as follows: “Everything went well until about 60 miles above White Fish, when the first warning any one aboard had of impending danger was a terrible crash about 9 A. M., caused by the huge craft breaking in two half way up the rigging. She took in water fast from the start and the yawl boats were lowered. Capt. Minch, his family, and the officers and crew of the boat to the number of 17 got into the wooden yawl and the others took to the metallic one.
“The Reserve sank in ten minutes, and before she had hardly gone out of sight the metallic yawl capsized. The other went to her assistance, but only succeeded in rescuing two of her occupants. Capt. Myer’s son and the steward. The 19 survivors started for White Fish, 60 miles away. The wind was about west when they started, but veered to the north, making considerable sea. The yawl weathered the breakers all night until 7 o’clock the next morning, when about ten miles from Life saving Station No. 10 and about a mile from the shore it capsized,”
Stewart says that he saw none of the occupants after that. He struck out for the shore, but the cries of the children, the screams of the women, and the moaning of the men were terrible for a few moments, when all became silent. Stewart was in the water two hours. He struck shore about ten miles above the station, and had to walk there before reaching any one to render him assistance.
A search failed to find trace of any other survivor of the wreck, and there is no question that they were all drowned.
The WESTERN RESERVE was one of the largest craft on the lakes, and has only been in the Lake Superior trade a little over a year. She was owned by P. C. Minch , who with his family was lost.
The Lost Skipper.
Cleveland, Sept. 2. — Capt. Minch was one of the best known vessel owners and masters on the 1akes. He was about 66 years old. He was horn at Vermillion and grew up in the business. His father, Philip Minch, was one of the most extensive owners of vessel property in his time. Capt. Minch sailed from his boyhood until about five years ago, when he came ashore to manage his large vessel interests. He with others owned the steamers WESTERN RESERVE, ONOKO, PHILIP MINCH, HORACE A. TUTTLE, A. EVERETT, JOHN N. GLIDDEN, and schooners GEORGE H. WARMINGTON and SOPHIA MINCH. The schooner FRED A. MORSE, which was lost a few months ago, was also owned by him. He was a kind hearted man and was well liked especially by those in his employ. Two sons, Philip, the oldest, a member of the firm Palmer & Co., vessel makers-and two grown up daughters survive him, The boy who was lost was about 10 years old, and the little girl about 7. The steamer was built by the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company in 1890. She was one of the largest and finest steamers on the lakes, and has several times broken the record for big cargoes. Capt. Meyers, her master, was in the Minch fleet for a number of years and was well known.
Bodies Recovered.
Newberry, Mich., Sept. 2. – Stewart walked 12 miles to the nearest life-saving station where he gave notice of the disaster. The savers began to patrol the beach today, and this morning found two bodies. One was identified as that of Capt. Minch, by his watch. The other was that of a dark-haired lady. To-night a telephone message stated that another body had come ashore. Stewart left here today for Sault Ste. Marie. Be appears none the worse for his terrible experience.

The Ill-Fated Steamer Went Down With Her Engines Working.
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Sept. 2. – Harry Stewart, the only survivor of the wreck of the WESTERN RESERVE, which broke in two in the lake Tuesday morning, was somewhat recuperated this morning and was again interviewed by an Associated Press representative who was the first and only one to see him on his arrival here and to whom he told his story in private.
The only additional fact obtained was that the WESTERN RESERVE went down with her engines going. As the crew pulled away they, could see the monster puffing and plunging in the waves until she sank out of sight. There is no way of identifying the place where the steamer went down. It was out of sight of land and there is no way of locating the wreck. The yawl was capsized at the first shoal from the shore by the breakers. It is not probable that any of the occupants survived the cold and waves long except Stewart, who had a heavy knit close-fitting jacket which he say’s alone saved him, he was entirely exhausted when he struck shore, and almost unconscious for an hour before he could move and then he could hardly walk and had to half crawl the ten miles to the life-saving station, where he was rubbed and well taken care of until the tug brought him here. The men at the live-saving station report that several bodies have been washed ashore. Stewart will therefore remain here for a few days to identify them.

Of the Extraordinary WESTERN RESERVE Disaster on Lake Superior.
Experience of the Sole Survivor – Local Opinion
Nothing else was talked of in marine circles today but the extraordinary WESTERN RESERVE disaster. Its like was never before heard of on the lakes. Two theories were advanced by the vessel men. Capt. John Green and Capt. William Robinson, two veterans, were of the opinion that the vessel sheared herself and broke in two and broke in two from the upper deck down. “Shearing” is the cutting of rivets by the working and twisting of the plates they are bolted through. They say the weight to be sustained by main strength of fabric when the vessel’s bows were out of water for 40 or 50 feet of her length, together with the pound of her wide, flat bottom on the seas, would cause any vessel to shear herself. The other theory is that of accident or explosion on board the boat or striking an obstruction in the heavy sea. Capt. J. J. H. Brown and Capt. Dan McLeod think the WESTERN RESERVE was too staunch a vessel to be otherwise sunk. The first theory, however, has the more supporters. A recent survey of the WESTERN RESERVE, shows that she was 300 foot long and 42 feet of beam. She was built of mild steel with a tensile strength of 60,000 pounds and riveted according to regulations. Her upper deck of steel was strengthened by angle bulb beams on every frame, giving unusual strength. The upper dock stringer, plate and upper shear streaks have each partial double butt straps. The bilge was triple riveted, and the sheer streak doubled to provide for the cutting of two more gang-ways if necessary.
There is general sorrow at the wholesale wiping out of the Minch family. Capt. Minch was very highly thought of all over the lakes, and was a most genial and progressive man. It is thought in some quarters that this disaster will be sonething of a setback to the building of steel vessels on the present plan. With a cargo, or with engines and boilers amidships to give the steamer even draft fore and aft, the mishap would not have occurred. It would be impossible for a staunch wooden steamer to break completely in two as the survivor of the WESTERN RESERVE says she did.
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Sept. 2. — All vessels passing through the canal today have their flags at half mast in memory of the steamer WESTERN RESERVE, which now lies in 600 feet of water 60 miles northwest of Whitefish Point. Harry Stewart, the only survivor gave some additional particulars of the disaster today. It was a pitiful tale of a hopeless struggle for life. He said : “The yawl that I was in was two small to hold the crew of 19. It was loaded down to within a foot of the water and all night the spray kept breaking over us. We worked continuously bailing out the water with the only pail we had and our hats. I remember Mrs. Minch hanging to one of the children and making a desperate effort for life. Just then I heard Mr. Minch cry out: My God, there goes one of my children. Carl Myer, the Captain’s son, and I were together. He asked me if I thought we could reach the shore. I said we will try. The last I saw of him was four or five rods from the boat which had capsized. This boat was afterwards found by the life saving crew.
“While we were in the yawl,” young Stewart continued, “a steamer passed us, which I think was the NESHOTO. We could see her red light, but they could not see us. We were to the westward of them. We shouted and screamed for half an hour, but in the roar of the storm they could not hear us. If we had had a light they could have seen us. As a final resort we tried to burn one or the women’s shawls, but it was too wet and would not light. I do not think the bodies will raise. Those who held life jackets were the two ladies, Carl Meyer, Burt Smith and one fireman. The life jacket I secured was in the bottom of the yawl when she capsized. Someone had thrown it off and I got hold of it and put it on in the water. It is not true that the crew were in a panic at the time the steamer broke in two. On the contrary everybody seemed cool. We put the children in the lifeboat first and then all hands got in. The metallic life boat broke up very soon, and we had to take its occupants off it. It was not long before the steamer went down. As she sank we heard a very loud report, but do not know what it was. I have no idea what caused the steamer to break in two. She was carrying water ballast aft, but I don’t think there was any forward, I do not understand why the mainmast should have broken and fallen on the deck, it is all a mystery to me.

Newberry, Mich., Sept. 2. — The life saving crew of the Grand Marias Station are patrolling the beach for ten miles each way today in the search for bodies from the steamer WESTERN RESERVE, which foundered off this port Tuesday night. Up to noon but three bodies had been recovered. One of them is known to be that of Capt. Peter Minch, the steamers owner. The body of the woman found last night is still unidentified. The remains are but partially clothed, indicating that she had rushed from her stateroom to the deck only to find the steamer sinking. She had not had time to return for her clothing, but had been hurried into the yawl boat. The third body is also unidentified.
Harvey Stewart. the sole survivor, is expected this afternoon to identify the bodies. Telegraphic orders were received from Cleveland today to properly care for the dead and the son of the owner will reach here tomorrow to take personal charge.

Cleveland. Sept. 2. — The survivor of the WESTERN RESERVE disaster, Wheelman Stewart, says positively in an answer to an inquiry that the steamer broke in two in forcing her way into a big sea. The excitement among Capt. Minch’s friends at the disaster has caused much discussion regarding its cause. Well informed vessel owners are satisfied that the boat was being rushed into head seas, as big steel steamers of her kind always are, great dependence being put in the water bottom. It is thought that the boat was being unduly pushed on account of her owner being aboard. The steamer was doubtless out of water 100 feet each way, as she rode on the crest of a big wave. Had she been a wooden boat a leak would have shown the danger, but being of steel the rivets holding her together broke all at once under the strain.
Buffalo Enquirer
Friday, September 2, 1892

. . . . .

The steamer WESTERN RESERVE with 27 aboard, broke in two in Tuesday night’s gale and sank 20 miles off Sable Point, lake Superior. Harry Stewart, the wheelsman, is the only survivor. She sank in 10 minutes’ and carried to their deaths. The vessel owner Foster J. Minch, his wife, son, and daughter, his sister-in-law and her daughter.
Port Huron Daily Times
Friday, September 2, 1892

. . . . .

A prominent vessel man in conversatlon with an ENQUIRER reporter this morning said: “I would like to know if it is true that the forward water ballast compartments of the WESTERN RESERVE was always kept filled when the vessel was running light. If such was the case all doubts as to the cause of the accident are at rest, for according to calculations, the strain amidships under the circumstances would be almost beyond belief. Cleveland papers will say nothing about it, but no vessel could stand for any length of time the strain thus imposed when running into a head sea.” Another vessel man who was in Cleveland Sunday, saw Stewart, the sole survivor of the disaster, and says Stewart told him that to get to the boats at the time of the accident he distinctly remembers that he had to jump a crack fully three feet wide that extended across the upper deck of the steamer just forward of the mainmast. This should settle conclusively that the WESTERN RESERVE did not blow up, but actually did break In two as was first reported.
Buffalo Enquirer
Tuesday, September 13, 1892

Steam screw WESTERN RESERVE. U. S. No. 81294. Of 2392.05 tons gross; 1965.08 tons net. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1890. Home port, Cleveland, Ohio. 300.7 x 41.2 x 21.0
Merchant Vessel List U. S., 1891

No Comments

Categories: Lake Superior Still Missing



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

No Comments

Categories: Lake Huron Still Missing



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.

No Comments

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 20 May, 1923, the American steel cargo , built in 1899 by Detroit Shipbuilding Co. and owned at the time of her loss by American Steam Ship Co., sank after a collision with steamer SATURN, May 20, 1923, in dense fog about forty miles southeast of Thunder Bay Island, Lake Huron. No lives were lost; crew rescued by steamer R.L.AGASSIZ and JAMES B.EADS; vessel upbound with 7000 tons of coal.

The freighter EDWARD U. DEMMER sailed but a brief 24 years before a collision sent it to the bottom of fog shrouded Lake Huron. on May 20, 1923.
The steel ship foundered about 40 miles off Thunder Bay after tangling with the steamer SATURN in the early morning hours. Crew members said the ship was gone in about 10 minutes. The sinking occurred so fast they said they barely had time to get away in the two life boats.
Capt. Joseph E. Burke of St. Clair, Mich., and 26 other sailors were rescued. by the passing freighters R.L. AGASSIZ and JAMES B. EADS.
The DEMMER, owned by the Milwaukee Western Fuel Co., was upbound on a trip to, Milwaukee with 7,000 tons of coal. Out of the fog came the ore carrier SATURN, under command of Capt. Z.H. Utley of Marine City, Mich. The SATURN rammed the ill-fated DEMMER on the starboard side. DEMMER crew members said the SATURN backed away then disappeared just as it had appeared out of the gloom. The SATURN’s bow was badly crushed and the vessel was leaking.
The crippled steamer stopped at, Port Huron to have part of its load of iron ore removed before going on to a dry dock in Detroit.
Utley denied any responsibility for the crash. A statement he made to a U.S. marine inspection officer was never made public. DEMMER crew members said they barely had to time to get life boats away. Three of the sailors were asleep in the forecastle when the boats came, together. They escaped wearing only their underwear.
The captain of the AGASSIZ searched for lifeboats for three hours in the fog. He said he could hear the cries of the sailors but the fog was so thick he could not find them. A lone survivor, deck hand Niels Kruger of Buffalo, N.Y., was found by the steamer EADS in a lifeboat half filled with water. Kruger was surprised to find his shipmates also survived the accident. He said he thought the rest of the crew went down with the ship.
The survivors also included Fred O’Neil of Marine City, Jess Landridge, Elles Landridge, Richard Jackson and Lynn Folkerts, all of Algonac.
The DEMMER had two other names during its career. It was first called the ADMIRAL and later the J.K. DIMMICK. (Author James Donahue’s shipwreck columns appears each week in the Huron Daily Tribune)
Port Huron Daily Tribune
By James Donahue

ADMIRAL * Built Nov. 18, 1899 Bulk Propeller – Steel
U. S. No. 107523 4651 gt – 3547 at 423.9′ x 51.9′ x 28′
* Renamed, (b) J.K. DIMMICK – US – 1913
(c) EDWARD U. DEMMER – US – 1920
Sunk in collision with stmr. SATURN, May 20, 1923, 40 miles south- east of Thunder Bay Island, Lake huron.
Detroit/Wyandotte Shipbuilding Master List
Institute for Great Lakes research
Perrysburg, Ohio.

Steam screw EDWARD U. DEMMER.* U. S. No. 107523. Of 4,651 tons gross; 3,547 tons net. Built at Wyandotte, Mich., in 1899. Home port, Cleveland, Ohio. 423.9 x 51.9 x 28.0 Freight service. Of 1,150 indicated horse power. Crew of 27. Steel built.
* formerly Steam screw [a] ADMIRAL, [b] J.K. DIMMICK.
Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1923

No Comments

Categories: Lake Huron Still Missing



Official no. : 155317
Type at loss : propeller, wood, bulk freight
Build info : 1898, J. Davidson, W. Bay City, MI hull# 87
Specs : 297x44x21, 2226g 1928n
Date of loss : 1924, May 18
Place of loss : 6 miles off Agawa Bay, NW of Soo
Lake : Superior
Type of loss : storm
Loss of life : 5
Carrying : pulpwood
Detail : Towing the huge barge CHIEFTAIN, she was caught in a gale. She cut the unweildly barge loose, then foundered.

1924 – ORINOCO sank about 6 miles off Agawa Bay, Lake Superior, while upbound with coal. The wooden steamer had sought shelter behind Michipicoten Island while towing the barge CHIEFTAIN, but then tried to return to Whitefish Bay. ORINOCO began to leak under the stress and was lost.

The 295-foot wooden steamer ORINOCO, towing the 342-foot wooden schooner-barge CHIEFTAIN, was upbound light on Lake Superior, en route to load a cargo of logs for pulping. The tow encountered a 60 m.p.h. gale and the strain of tossing and twisting in the seas, with the heavy barge on the towline aft, proved to be too much for the 26-year-old ORINOCO. Her seams began to leak badly and she was making water fast. When the tow was about 40 miles above Whitefish Point, the barge CHIEFTAIN was cast off, for Capt. Anthony Lawrence of the ORINOCO had seen that his ship’s pumps were unable to stem the incoming water and he knew that ORINOCO would soon founder.
Capt. Lawrence ordered seventeen of the steamer’s crew into the lifeboats off Montreal Island, while three men remained aboard in an unsuccessful but gallant attempt to beach ORINOCO on the Island. Very shortly thereafter, however, the steamer plunged to the bottom of the lake, taking her captain, the chief engineer and the wheelsman with her. The lifeboat managed to survive the heavy seas and reached Montreal Island safely, although two men succumbed to exposure in the boat; the other fifteen reached shore.
GARGANTUA, under the command of Capt. D. A. Williams, happened to be in the area of Montreal Island at the time, with a log raft in tow, and her crew spotted the ORINOCO’S men on the beach. GARGANTUA was hove to and a boat was sent ashore to pick up the survivors, an operation which proved to be completely successful.

Buffalo, Sept. 22 – The stmr. ORINOCO went on the Waverly Shoals, 3 miles from the Buffalo breakwater, on the Canadian side, early this morning. The tug FABIAN went to her assistance, but after repeated efforts failed to release her Arrangements to lighter the steamer’s cargo are now being made. The barge GEORGER will be sent to receive a portion of the cargo taken out. The ORINOCO is out 4 feet. There is a heavy fog on the lower end of the lake, but the sea is not dangerously high.
Milwaukee Scrapbook
September 23, 1898

. . . . .

Steam screw ORINOCO. U. S. No. 155317. Of 2,226 tons gross; 1,928 tons net. Built West Bay City, Mich., 1898. Home port, Duluth, Minn. 295.0 x 44.0 x 21,0 Freight service. crew of 18, Of 800 indicated horsepower.
Merchant vessel List, U. S., 1921

Portage River Unobstructed,
Houghton, Mich., June 5. — The Zenith Dredge Company of Duluth has just finished dredging a 22-foot channel through Portage river, and all known ubstructions to navigation have been removed. Just before the job was completed a 3500-pound anchor, lost by the steamer ORINOCO last October, was brought up.
Buffalo Evening News
Friday, June 5, 1908

Steam screw ORINOCO. U. S. No. 155317. Of 2,226 tons gross. Built 1898. On May 18, 1924, vessel foundered on Lake Superior, with 22 person on board. 5 lives being lost.
Loss reported of American Vessels
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1924

The propeller ORINOCO of the Davidson line is reported to be hard aground on Bar Point, Lake Erie, and so far tugs have been unable to release her. She is loaded with a mixed cargo and efforts will be made to lighter her at once.
Buffalo Evening News
April 28, 1905

. . . . .

The steamer ORINOCO, which went ashore at Bar Point Thursday, was released at noon yesterday apparently uninjured, she was sent on to Port Huron.
Buffalo Evening News
April 29, 1905


The Steinbrenner was the last of the North Shore wrecks.
The Great Lakes freighter SS Henry Steinbrenner was a 427 feet (130 m) long, 50 feet (15 m) wide, and 28 feet (8.5 m) deep(4}, dry bulk freighter of typical construction style for the early 1900s primary designed for the iron ore, coal, and grain trades on the Great Lakes. Commissioned by the Kinsman Transit Co. of Cleveland, Ohio she was launched as hull number 14 by Jenks Ship Building Co. of Port Huron, Michigan. Her design featured a forward forecastle containing crew cabins topped with an additional cabin and pilot house. The mid section was a long nearly flat deck over the cargo holds only interrupted by 12 hatches fitted with telescoping type hatch covers. The aft end featured a large cabin situated over the engine room containing the galley, mess rooms, and crew quarters and was topped with a smoke stack and air vents. The Steinbrenner later featured a “doghouse” cabin aft of her smoke stack to house added crew from a change in the crew watch system on the Great Lakes. Within four hours of the sinking, three nearby ore carriers had arrived on scene and fourteen of the Steinbrenner’s thirty-one-man crew were rescued — seventeen men were lost.

Robert J. Allen, St. Louis, Missouri; porter
Howard W. Chamberlain, Buffalo, NY; coal passer
Harry R. Drinkwitz, Duluth, Minn.; 1st asst engineer (missing)
Earl M. Hemmingson, Duluth, Minn.; wheelsman
Andrew Kraft, Alpena, Mich.; 1st Mate
Paul LeRoux, Toledo, Ohio; steward (missing)
Paul T. Mattson, Aurora, Minn.; 2nd asst engineer (missing)
William J. Monahan, Pearsall, Texas; coal passer
Arthur L. Morse, Michigan City, Ind.; 3rd asst engineer
Harold O. Race, Jefferson, Ohio; chief engineer (missing)
Kenneth H. Reynolds, South Range, Wis.; fireman
Calvin E. Swartz, Conneaut, Ohio; fireman (missing)
George H. Thom, Brockway, Penn.; 2nd mate (missing)
Leo W. Thomas, Duluth, Minn.; wheelsman
Frank Tomczak, Buffalo, NY; oiler
George W. Wiseman, South Range, Wis.; 3rd mate (missing)
Jack Wolfe, East Liverpool, Ohio; fireman

The owners who abandoned the steamer HENRY STEINBRENNER sunk in the Soo River last December have taken her back. The underwriters will pay the repair and wrecking bills amounting to $76,000, and a large sum besides. It is agreed, however, that the owners shall make no claim against the steamer BERWIND which sunk the STEINBRENNER.
Buffalo Evening News
July 12, 1910
Steam screw  HENRY STEINBRENNER. U. S. No. 96584. Of 4,719 tons gross. Built 1901. On December 6, 1909 vessel collided with steam screw HARRA A. BERWIND in Mud Lake, St. Marys River, Mich. With 24 persons on board, no lives were lost.
Reported Loss of American Vessels
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1910

Steam screw HENRY STEINBRENNER. U. S. No. 96584. Of 4,719 tons gross; 3,955 tons net. Built Port Huron, Mich, 1901. Home port, Cleveland, Ohio. 420.0 x 50.0 x 24.0
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1902

NOTE:– Vessel recovered.

The decade of the 1890’s was unkind to one of the oldest fleets on the Great Lakes, and the family that started it under Captain Philip Minch about 50 years earlier. Ships were sunk, and the family and the crews felt the pain of lost of lives in this decade. The daughter of Captain Philip Minch, Sophia, had married a young lawyer and businessman named Henry Steinbrenner, who was reluctant at first to become involved in Great Lakes shipping. However he did, and in 1901, with the older Minch fleet, he formed the Kinsman Marine Transit Company. The need for a modern fleet was apparent, and the first vessel for this new enterprise was built in 1901, and took the name, Henry Steinbrenner. This ship was built by Jenks Shipbuilding at Port Huron, Michigan, at 440 feet long, which put it among the larger boats on the Lakes. Kinsman would become a company that would haul iron ore, coal, and stone, but grain would become its main business. This first Kinsman boat would soon be joined by other newly built vessels for the fleet, but this steamer would begin a career of accidents over the years. After 52 years of service this first Henry Steinbrenner would end in one more major accident when she foundered in Lake Superior in a storm on May 11, 1953. Seventeen died, and 14 survived of the crew. Three subsequent vessels would carry this name, but the sinking of the first one is still remembered.
(Photo – Dowling collection)