The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chronicle & News (Kingston, ON), July 5, 1848

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We are indebted to the politeness of P. Robertson Esq., Agent for Messrs. McPherson & Crane, the proprietors of this fine boat, who was on board when it was destroyed, for a clear and full account of all the particulars attending this serious accident. It appears, that the Speed left L'Orignal Wharf on her upward trip at half past three p.m., on Friday last; a stiff easterly breeze blowing almost a hurricane shortly before six o'clock, the Engineer first discovered the smoke escaping from the main deck near the pipe. He immediately informed Capt. Lighthall, who first attempted to get the hose down, but was prevented from doing so by the denseness of the smoke, nor could it be made in any way available, the supply of water unfortunately being from below. All hands turned out with buckets and exerted themselves in this way to quench the flames, but all their efforts proving unavailing, the steam, which at the first alarm had been stopped, was again put on, and the boat headed to the shore, within about twenty yards of which, the bow grounded in between 4 and a half and five feet of water. The jolly boat was lowered, and all the females in the boat (three in number) with the passenger's luggage, brought to the shore. The remainder of the passengers and crew, about 60 in all, made their way to shore, as best they might, by swimming and wading, without the slightest injury having been sustained by any. Capt. Lighthall, whose conduct throughout this trying affair is spoken of in the highest possible terms by all with whom we have conversed on the subject, was the last to leave the boat, being compelled by the flames to leap from the stern into some twenty feet of water. Seven minutes after all had left her, she was one complete mass of flame. Shortly after, one of the Boilers burst, and was thrown upon the shore, a distance of fifty feet, which was soon followed by one of the chimnies, which was also landed upon the beach. It is not known how the fire originated, but the supposition is that it was occassioned by the heat of the boiler, acting upon the woodwork. Although the destruction of this fine vessel is much to be regretted, both as a heavy loss to her Proprietors, who were wholly uninsured, and a serious inconvenience to the travelling community on this line, it affords subject for gratitude, that, through the mercy of a divine providence, not a life was lost, nor even a limb injured of any of those on board.

Since writing the above, we understand that Mr. Merritt, Ship-builder, who arrived from Montreal yesterday morning, for the purpose of examining the hull and boilers of the Speed, gives it as his opinion, that the fire could not possibly have originated in the manner above stated. He is rather inclined to think it was occasioned by fire dropping down alongside of the pipe, possibly from some person having carelessly dropped a match, as it is a very general practice with raftsmen and others, to light matches by rubbing them on the pipes of the boat. Mr. Merritt went down yesterday for the purpose of a thorough examination of the wreck. According to the result of this enquiry, the Proprietors will either build upon the old hull if found practicable, or the keel of a new boat will be laid immediately. This is what may be justly called the true spirit of enterprize. We are always happy to accord credit where it is really deserved, and therefore in the name of the public, we wish Messrs. McPherson & Crane sufficient success in their new undertaking, to compensate fully for their late misfortune.

North Channel, Long Sault - The descent of this channel has been accomplished by the mail steamer Henry Gildersleeve, in perfect safety. A number of passengers were on board the Gildersleeve at the time of the descent, and were most gratified by the trip. The north channel has been proved to be much more safe than that hitherto in use, and will doubtless hereafter be generally taken by steamers on their downward trip.

p.3 Mechanic's Institution Excursion to Picton and Lake on the Mountain on board steamer Queen Victoria - details.

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July 5, 1848
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Chronicle & News (Kingston, ON), July 5, 1848