The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), July 12, 1890

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p.1 Incidents Of The Day - A schooner collided with the bridge house last evening and carried the rear part of it away. If it was removed entirely the appearance of the bridge would be improved.


The schr. Maggie L. is loading lumber for Dexter, N.Y.

The schr. Grantham will clear this evening with a load of iron ore for Cleveland.

The steam yacht Sigma left today for the Thousand Islands. From there she will go to Montreal.

The tug Active arrived light from Oswego and will return tomorrow for two barges laden with coal.

The prop. Glengarry, and two barges, for Port Arthur from Kingston, passed Port Colborne yesterday.

The steamer Armenia and barge from Portage Lake to Garden Island, with timber, passed Port Dalhousie yesterday.

The str. Tilley and barges from Toledo to Kingston with corn, and the str. Enterprise and barges, Toledo to Garden Island with timber, passed Port Colborne yesterday.

The chains about the str. Armstrong at Ogdensburg are being removed preparatory to taking her out on the marine railway. She is in a terrible condition, without pilot house or smoke stack, and cabins and upper works in a shapeless mass. Pumps are kept at work to keep her afloat.

In a recent gale the schr. Cornelia lost her staysail, flying jib and jib topsail. Her deck load of salt was washed too and fro by the motion of the waves. The schr. L.B. Stone had her foresail split and her flying jib much damaged. On a run to Oswego on Sunday the schrs. Dudley and B.W. Folger had lively experiences. They lost their jibs.


What is Said About the Proposed Elevator at Kingston.

[Montreal Gazette]

Particulars of the "elevator" meeting at Kingston attracted no small attention on 'change yesterday. The local forwarders and grain men, who had been so active in urging a rebate of tolls upon grain shipped via Montreal, were not so much concerned by Kingston's asking the Dominion government to build them an elevator as they were by the last resolution opposing the rebate of tolls on grain shipped from American ports. "The thing is ridiculous," said a prominent forwarder. "If Kingston wants an elevator let the people there build one, but why they should seek to divert the trade to American ports, simply in order to secure whatever there may be left for their elevator, which they want built with other people's money, is beyond comprehension. The grain trade is the backbone of Kingston's trade; anything that injures it injures their whole community. I think the Kingston people will find they have made a great mistake." It seems certain that the whole of Kingston's proposal will be opposed by the Montrealers interested in the forwarding trade, especially that portion relating to the rebate of tolls.

Editorially the same journal says: "The only alternative presented is the erection of adequate elevator and storage facilities at Kingston, it would be a gain to the grain traffic of the St. Lawrence route if these facilities were provided, but the Kingston people, instead of manifesting the public spirit necessary to secure these advantages, call upon the government to come to their aid. This is all very well, but if the public money is to be employed in building elevators the next demand may be for the construction of vessels, or even for a subsidy for navigating inland ships. The line must be drawn somewhere, and if good reasons exist for refusing the rebate of tolls asked by Ogdensburg, as, for instance, that it would injure trade via Kingston and shut out Kingston bottoms, then the proper course is to make the canals free and let private enterprise supply the needs of traffic. We are quite as much interested as the people of Kingston in retaining trade to Canadian ports and Canadian bottoms, but we hesitate to endorse the request that the government should undertake the construction of elevators and warehouses in accomplishing this end."

p.2 ad - Steamer Kathleen - St. Lawrence, Ottawa River and Rideau Routes - making weekly trips between Kingston, Montreal and Ottawa; gives schedule and list of stopping places; for information see James Swift, Kingston; R. Conn, Montreal; Capt. T.J. Jones, Canal Basin, Ottawa; Capt. A. Foster, Smith's Falls; or Capt. A. Dunlop on board.

ad - Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company - The Royal Mail Through Line - composed of steamers Quebec, Capt. Nelson, and Montreal, Capt. Roy between Quebec and Montreal, and steamers Passport, Capt. Sinclair; Algerian, Capt. Batton; Corsican, Capt. Ada; and Spartan, Capt. Garrett; with schedule.

ad - Bay of Quinte Steamboat Route - Daily to Picton, Deseronto and Belleville - steamer Hero, W. Bloomfield, Master, with schedule.

ad - 1000 Islands and Rochester Route - lake str. Norseman, with schedule.

ad - Montreal, Toronto and St. Catharines - steamer Persia, J.H. Scott, Master, with schedule.

ad - St. Catharines, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston and Montreal - the popular passenger steamer Ocean, John T. Towers, Master, with schedule.

ad - Rochester, Kingston, Montreal - Through Murray Canal, Calling At Brighton, Bay of Quinte and River St. Lawrence Ports, Including Ogdensburg - the popular side-wheel lake steamer Alexandria, Capt. E.B. Smith, with schedule.

p.3 ad - Rochester, Kingston and Thousand Island Navigation Company - new and elegant steamer Pilgrim, Capt. J.B. Estes, with schedule.



Chicago, July 11th - A frightful explosion occurred tonight on the steamer Tioga, one of the largest vessels on the great lakes. Thirty-eight people were aboard the steamer at the time. When the work of rescuing the survivors, which commenced almost instantly, was well under way only two persons could be found who escaped unhurt. To make matters worse fire broke out on the wrecked vessel and huge volumes of flame and smoke impeded the searchers for the dead and dying.

The bursting of the steamer's boilers was the cause of the catastrophe. It was in the Chicago River, at the foot of Washington street, that the explosion occurred. This locality is in the heart of the business section of Chicago, and the terrific shock of the explosion brought people running in terror out of the tall buildings a block away. Most of the victims were Chicago stevedores, who were unloading the vessel. Only three of the Tioga's crew were reported on the list.

The fire proved a stubborn one and made it impossible at the time to verify the report that the boilers had exploded. A statement was current that the explosion was due to another cause - the accidental lighting of a large quantity of combustibles in the narrow confines of the Tioga's deep hold. In the hold near the steamer's stern was where the fire held sway. Through the bursts of fire could be seen a great jagged cleft in the Tioga's decks and cabin, and aloft on the tall smoke-stacks dangled a huge framework of timber fantastically swaying backward and forward, telling of the terrific force of the explosion, which sent it there from 30 feet below.While the fire was still in progress a reporter met the captain of the ill-fated steamer on the forward deck.

The officer stopped in his task of straightening out the confusion to give a statement. Said he:

"My name is Captain A.A. Phelps. I arrived here last evening from Buffalo in command of the Tioga, and we were unloading at this dock when the explosion took place this evening. I was in the freight shed on the dock when I heard a terrific noise, and running out I saw the north quarter of the vessel enveloped in steam. All the crew of 25 were either aboard at the time or were on the dock or in the freight-house. I found after a careful search that all but three were accounted for and safe. Those three, all from Buffalo, were: Second engineer, George Haig; lookout, C. Lavalley; deck hand, William Cuthbert. Besides the three missing men who belonged to the crew there must have been from twelve to fifteen other men killed and probably half a dozen additional wounded.

There were laborers in the hold who were doing the unloading. Eight colored men are positively stated to have been below and six or seven others were at the hatches aiding their fellow stevedores lower down. The explosion occurred in the hold, not in the machinery or boilers as near as I could ascertain, and was probably in some combustible freight stored there."

It appeared that the explosion occurred just after a porter named William Palmer had gone below with a lighted lamp. He had scarcely reached the decks again when the fearful shock came. It was said that 200 barrels of oil were among the cargo and that these had become ignited. Others insisted that the explosion must have been due to a lack of water in the boilers and that the second engineer, who was known to be missing, was the man whose duty it would be to start the pony pump in such an emergency. Up to 10 o'clock nine dead bodies had been taken from the wreck and five or more wounded had been conveyed to hospitals. The victims were now more accessible, the fire having been extinguished by the inrushing of the river.

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July 12, 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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), July 12, 1890