The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Fire-- Narrow Escape of the Propeller Prairie State
Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), 21 Jun 1865

Full Text

Fire-- Narrow Escape of the Propeller Prairie State. This morning at about nine o'clock, as the propeller Prairie State, Capt. Knapp of the Northern Transportation Company, bound for the West, was just springing from her dock in this city, the steerage passenger cabin was discovered to be on fire.-- The vessel was immediately hauled back to the dock, and measures taken to extinguish the flames. It was with the greatest exertions that the boat was saved. The fire department, of course, were promptly on hand and it is seldom we have seen a more closely contested combat between human skill, hard work and, obstinate powers of endurance on the one hand, and the devouring element of the other. It was a hand to hand contest, and for a long time it seemed doubtful which would prevail. The apartments of the propeller were so cut up into small rooms, and the fire and smoke were so intense that it was difficult to reach the flames. Skill and perseverance finally trumped and the propeller Prairie State was saved.

There is nothing known as to the origin of the fire except that it must have been communicated from the boilers. It is difficult to estimate the damages of the propeller. By good judges it is placed at from $2,500 to $4,000. By the immense quantities of water belched on board, the damages to the freight in the hold must have been considerable. She was loaded with sugar and other merchandise for the upper lakes. All the damages were covered by the insurance.

There were from twenty five to thirty (mostly steerage) passengers on board. With these the utmost consternation and confusion prevailed, and it is wonderful that in their anxiety to reach the docks, some of them were not killed or badly injured.

These passengers are provided for by the agent of the Company and will forwarded by the boat tomorrow.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
21 Jun 1865
Personal Name(s):
Knapp, S.
Corporate Name(s):
Northern Transportation Company
Richard Palmer
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.4601473258553 Longitude: -76.5118732910156
Creative Commons licence:
by [more details]
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Fire-- Narrow Escape of the Propeller Prairie State