The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Oct. 22, 1844

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A terrible tempest of wind and rain visited this place on Friday last about midnight, and continued throughout the night. The wind blew from the south-west, and soon rose to a perfect hurricane, destroying signs, fences, windows, chimneys, and in some instances raising roofs completely off the houses. Trees were uprooted in all directions, boats torn from their moorings, and every thing on which the wind could have the slightest effect experienced its devastating power. The shores of the Cataraqui were covered with pleasure boats of every size and variety, many of which were shattered into fragments.

The injury on the Lake must have been immense, although we have not yet heard of any very serious calamity. Several schooners came into port dismantled and disabled on the following day. The royal mail steamer City of Toronto encountered the gale in all its fury, on her downward passage, and did not reach this port until eleven o'clock, five hours after her usual time. The River Mail Steamer, Highlander, which should have arrived here on Friday afternoon, did not reach her destined port until the following evening. The American Steamer Lady of the Lake was driven on a bar near Ogdensburg, during the storm, where she now lies, almost out of water. She will be a total wreck.

A schooner heavily laden is reported to have gone down in the vicinity of Port Hope, with all hands, but we cannot trace the report to any authentic source. From the violence of the gale, we fear many have found a watery grave.

Since the above was written we have been kindly favored by Capt. Richardson, of the Chief Justice Robinson, with a Buffalo paper of yesterday morning, containing the following heart-rending particulars of the effects of the gale on Lake Erie.


Awful Destruction of Lives and Property.

On Friday night last our city was visited by a most tremendous gale, which for destruction of life and property, has no parallel in this part of the country.......

The damage and losses in steamboats and shipping is also great. The steamboat Robert Fulton will be a total loss; the steamboat G.W. Dole (a small boat) it is supposed is rendered unfit for service, being broken in two. The steamboats St. Louis, Great Western, Commodore Perry, Chautauque, and Indian Queen are all more or less damaged. The spars, sails and rigging of a large number of vessels are also much injured. Upwards of eighty canal boats have been driven high and dry out of the water, some of them a total loss, and others seriously injured.... The wharf along the entire length of the harbor is more or less damaged.

The sea wall and stone Pier of the harbor have been also very seriously damaged - extensive breaches have been made in the breakwater extending from the light house - and large stones, many tons in weight, have been carried from ten to twenty feet from their original position....

Much anxiety was felt on Saturday for the fate of the steamboats St. Louis, Fulton, Indian Queen, and Julia Palmer, which had left the evening previous, and necessarily met the gale at its heaviest point.

The S.B. St. Louis ran down to Black Rock safe, with her shaft broken. She broke her shaft 10 miles above Dunkirk close on a lee shore, lost three men and a boy overboard who would not keep away from the gangways, in obedience to the orders of the Captain. Names not known. By the superior management of the Captain and crew she was brought safely into Black Rock harbor, under her jib. Mr. Wells, of Wells & Co.'s Express, was on board, and we are indebted to him for the above particilars. The passengers speak in the highest terms of the conduct of the officers and crew belonging to the boat.

The Fulton, as has been stated, was driven ashore about 20 miles up the lake, and will be lost - crew and passengers saved, with the exception of three, whose names are unknown. The engine and cargo will probably be saved in a damaged state.

The Indian Queen came in about half past 11, in safety. Goods on board considerably injured.

The Julia Palmer made her appearance at the mouth of the Creek about 6 o'clock on Saturday morning, but such was the violence of the gale that she was unable to make the harbor; she then put about and finding it impossible to effect an entrance, stood up the lake into the bay, where she anchored. Much anxiety was felt during the whole of the day for her, at one time it was thought impossible she could ride out the gale with safety - and many absurd rumors were afloat in regard to her - the boat however stood it manfully - and at sunset all fears were at an end. She came in on Sunday morning about 8 o'clock, with all hands safe. There were about 400 passengers on board, all of whom join in rendering the highest praise to Capt. Titus and his crew, for their coolness and courage through the whole trying time.

The Com. Perry came in about 12 o'clock on Friday night in a most shattered condition, her wheelhouse being smashed in - and the boat almost a cripple - in coming in, she ran into the Great Western - after which she ran her bowsprit into the side of the Wayne - where she remained fastened.

The steamboat Chautauque lies ashore on her beam ends, near Black Rock.

The brig Europe came in about one o'clock on Friday evening, when the storm was at its height, with the loss of her fore-topmast, and her sails considerably injured. She ran her bowsprit plump into the warehouse of Joy & Webster.

The steamboat Emerald had her smoke pipe blown off and demolished.

The Iron U.S. Steamer was driven upon the beach high and dry near the old Stone House.

The brig Ashland, with a cargo of wheat from Chicago, was beached, just below the north pier.....


By the Kent, arrived last night from Port Dover, Canada West, we learn that the piers at Port Ryerson and Port Dover are very much damaged. The stone pier and light-house at Gravelly Bay are both gone. The schooner William Cayley, bound up from the lower lake, with a full cargo of merchandise, is ashore; it was supposed she would be got off. Off Dunkirk a wreck of a schooner was seen, and also a small boat bottom side upwards.

By the Missouri also arrived last evening, from Chicago, which laid in Erie during the gale, we learn that the schooners John Grant, Potomac, G.H. Walker, and Brandywine were ashore in the bay at Erie, but would be got off. One vessel, name unknown, high and dry near the barracks. Schooner Henry Clay (scow built) aground 30 rods from the water. Schr. Lodi was towed into Erie by the Missouri, sails shattered and both anchors gone. Schr. Lumberman came into Erie over the head of the Peninsula. Schooner Whig, Rogers, parted her cables and ran down the lake, and has not since been heard from. Schooner N. Biddle lay at anchor; lost her mast overboard. Spoke the schr. Blue Belle yesterday above Dunkirk, who reports a schooner capsized, supposed to be the Dayton. The Missouri spent some time seeking for the wreck, but in vain.

Both piers and both warehouses at Dunkirk have been carried away, with large quantities of goods.

We learn that the piers at Barcelona and Silver Creek have been seriously injured, and warehouses full of goods carried away. At Silver Creek Mr. C.H. Lee, son of Oliver Lee, Esq., narrowly escaped with his life. A warehouse which he occupied, and the section of the pier on which it stood, were carried away, and he escaped into the lighthouse, which fortunately stood out the gale. A large quantity of goods were lost in the warehouse. Sloop Helen Kent aground between Cattaragus and Silver Creek. Three schooners high and dry at Cattaragus.

Drowned - We regret to announce the well-known and much esteemed Capt. Macauley, of the schooner Morning Star, of this port, was drowned in the Upper Gap, by falling overboard. [Prince Edward Gazette, Oct. 18th]

p.3 ad for str. Bytown. Oct. 22nd, 1844.

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Oct. 22, 1844
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Oct. 22, 1844