The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), April 25, 1890

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The prop. St. Magnus, from Toledo, brings corn to Kingston at 3 cents.

The schr. B.W. Folger, from Oswego, is discharging 300 tons of coal at Breck & Booth's wharf.

A telegram states that the barge Lothair and consort Huron are fast in the ice at Penetanguishene.

The cargo of ice in the schr. Ganges, which was loaded here, was sold in Cleveland yesterday by Breck & Booth.

It is just possible that the str. Sylvan Stream will take the Rothesay's place in the excursion business this season.

The final effort is being made this week to raise the Armstrong wreck. The pile driver is being worked from the barge Bennett.

The sailing yacht Gracie was launched yesterday. Her bottom has been painted copper bronze and her hull will be painted white.

The schr. D. Freeman and the steam barge Resolute have cleared with cargoes of ice, the former for Sodus Point, the latter for Charlotte.

A new boat to be used on the Westminister Park-Alexandria Bay ferry is being built at Chaumont. Capt. Frank Kendall of Clayton will command her.

The str. Algonquin cleared yesterday for Chicago, but after she got a short distance away part of her machinery got out of order and she had to come back.

One of the U.S. marshals is investigating the prospect of removing the spars from the sunken schooner Vickery in the canal opposite the Thousand Island park.

The owners of the Mystic Star have paid Capt. Thomas Dobbie, Oswego, a little over $800, the amount due for wrecking the schr. Mongangen (sic) and the schooner was released.



Yesterday afternoon the tug McArthur steamed out from the C.P.R. dock with the schooner Neelon, pontoons and scow in tow for Collinsby. In doing so she was bearing away the remnant of all connected with so many mishaps during the first unsuccessful attempts at raising the Armstrong. The Neelon, during the past winter, has outrode many a severe storm while anchored at the scene of the wreck, survived many an ice jam and all round proved herself a craft of solid build. Nothing need be said of the pontoons, as our citizens are all familiar with the many disappointments suffered while they were being used. Capt. Mooney, to whom great credit is due for the perseverance with which he stuck to his work and at last landed the old boat at the wharf, also accompanied the tug. The remainder of the work will be under the charge of Louis Lalonde. [Brockville Times]

And this is probably the last work the tug McArthur will ever do, for she was burned at Collinsby this morning.

Asking For Assistance.

Shortly after eight o'clock this morning a message was received in the city from Collinsby stating that the tug McArthur was on fire and asking for assistance. Word was immediately sent to H.A. Calvin asking for the tug Chieftain. She was immediately despatched. The tug Traveller, at the K. & P. wharf, was called up and Mr. Calvin immediately went on board and started for Collinsby. A Whig reporter jumped on board just as the Traveller was leaving the dock. On the way up the crew got their hose and fire apparatus in readiness.

The hose was tested and it worked like a charm. Both the Traveller and the Chieftain did their best to make good time. When within four miles of Collinsby smoke could be seen, which told of the disaster overtaking one of the best tugs on the lakes. When the bay was reached it was found that the McArthur was in the middle of the bay and burning.

The tug Chieftain, arriving first, went ahead of the burning vessel. Mr. Calvin told the captain of the Traveller to go alongside and make fast. After doing this the hose of the Traveller was set to work. The sides of the McArthur, burning briskly, were deluged first, as it was thought the Traveller herself might get on fire. After working at the hull for over an hour the hose was directed towards the burning coal in the vessel. There was one mast standing when the tugs arrived, but this one was knocked down. As soon as the fire was under control a move was made to have the wreck towed near the shore. The Chieftain, in working, ran on an old pier in the middle of the bay. The tug Traveller then took hold of the McArthur and towed her up the bay and near the shore. After doing this she went back and relieved the tug Chieftain. She was not hard on, as she was moving slowly at the time.

How The Fire Originated.

About five o'clock this morning the fireman started to get up steam, preparatory to the day's work. About six o'clock fire was discovered in the capstan. It soon reached the tug and in a few minutes the whole vessel was one mass of flames. The McArthur had full steam up at this time and an attempt was made to move out into the bay as she was at the wharf. This, however, could not be accomplished. It was found that she was hard aground and impossible to move. The water had evidently dropped with the north wind, during the night, as the tug went into the wharf last night without the least difficulty. When the fire was discovered the apparatus in the McArthur was got into order and apparently was doing effective work, but as soon as the tug caught the flames rushed over the deck so fast that it was impossible to stay on board. Two of the crew of the McArthur stayed on her so long, fighting the flames, that they had to jump into the water to save their lives. The work of putting out the fire by buckets was then tried, but it was of no avail. The fire, helped by the brisk wind blowing, soon showed those working that anything they could do would not amount to much. They worked away until she lightened herself and floated out into the bay. Here she burned until the two tugs from Kingston arrived. Every thing in the shape of wood on her was destroyed. She is a complete wreck.

The tug was built in 1878, at Portsmouth, by Mr. Chaffey for the Collinsby rafting company. Three years ago she was fitted up with a centrifugal pump for wrecking purposes. She also had a steam windlass put into her. This is the first disaster she has had since she was built, and it is the last one as it will be impossible to rebuild her. She had about forty or fifty tons of hard coal on board, to be used in towing a raft, now ready, for Quebec.

The loss by the burning of the vessel, capstan house, and floating pontoon, is about $26,000, with an insurance of ($12,000?) on the hull and $3000 on the steam pump. The loss of the vessel, though it is great, is not so much as the loss of the capstan house. It is almost impossible to get one, as rafting firms alone use them. Mr. Leslie has two of them, one in Toronto and one in Belleville, but these are needed where they are, consequently the inconvenience caused by stopping work will be considerable. All the sails and outfit of the schooner Neelon, stored in the capstan house, were destroyed. A new wrecking line and an old one, costing $300 and $100 respectively, were consumed. Many valuable articles and papers met the same fate. The loss is serious, especially at this time of the year, as the rafting season is just opening.

The tug, as towed up the bay, was a mass of ruins. All the iron work had fallen into the centre of the boat and, together with the other debris, gave it a tough appearance. The two smoke stacks were the only things remaining in their original position.

General Paragraphs.

Capt. Leslie, the owner, was telegraphed shortly after the fire started. He drove to Collinsby and immediately telegraphed to Folger Bros. for assistance but the steamer Pierrepont had left on her island route, so it was impossible to send her then. H.A. Calvin received the message about the fire just as he was sitting down to breakfast. He left the table and ordered out his tugs. He did all he could to render assistance while the vessel was blazing.

W. Savage, painting the interior of the tug Traveller, left his work when the McArthur was reached and took charge of the hose. He worked with it for over two hours, and did good service. The knowledge acquired as a fireman in the Kingston brigade was put to good advantage.

The work of rebuilding the capstan house will be begun as soon as possible.

Both the tugs Traveller and Chieftain were loaded with withs which made it very awkward to handle tow lines or hose. No time, however, was lost in getting things done when the orders were given.

The hose of the tug Chieftain was put on the burning tug, but the Chieftain went ahead too quick, and the hose broke about the centre. This ended its usefulness.

When the Chieftain was towed off the pier she started for home leaving the tug Traveller to attend to the wreck. It was proposed then that the McArthur should be sunk as it was impossible to put out the fire in the coal in the hold.

A number of Frenchmen, employed in rafting, were on the tugs which left the city. They worked hard but a fire on a vessel was something new to them.

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April 25, 1890
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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.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), April 25, 1890