The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Oct. 8, 1857

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(from Chronicle & News, Oct. 9, 1857)


Another Propeller Burnt

The propeller Louisville left Chicago on Tuesday night, 1st inst., just before the clearing of the steamer Planet, on her regular trip to Milwaukie, the propeller bearing due east, and the latter pursuing her course along the north shore.

About half past ten o'clock an alarm of fire was given, and flames were discovered amidships in a portion of the cargo not immediately accessible. Capt. Caldwell was asleep on a lounge in the upper cabin - just turned in; the mate was on watch, and forward.

As soon as the alarm was given, an attempt was made to rig the hose and fire apparatus, but the dense smoke that almost instantly filled all the space between decks, forced the relinquishment of the hopes of doing anything to arrest the flames, and attention was at once directed toward saving the lives of the crew and passengers. All the accounts agree in giving high credit to Capt. Caldwell and his officers and men, and to the passengers - especially the females - for the coolness and the presence of mind with which they met the trying occasion. The engine was kept in motion, the wheelsman remained at his post, and while the three boats were being put in readiness for launching, the propeller was turned towards land, and had made a mile or two when a sail vessel was discovered making towards them from the northward, and about two miles distant, and the Louisville's course was changed to meet the schooner. As the two neared each other, the schooner hailed "Can't you stop her headway?" And it was the daring achievement of one of the firemen, whose name we could not learn, to silently descend into the firehold, in the very jaws of the devouring element, and stop the engine. The boats had been launched previously to the stopping of the engine, and all hands got on board safely. The headway of the propeller, however, carried the smallest boat, containing five persons, into the wake, where she upset, and Jno. Hanley, one of the firemen, was drowned. The others clung to the capsized boat, and were finally taken off by the other boats. The schooner proved to be the Elbe, Captain Ruger, and by her timely arrival, and by the sailor-like course of her commander and crew, she rendered just the service required, and the crew of the ill-fated Louisville were all, with the melancholy exception noted, taken on board, and the Elbe, which was bound for South Haven, put about and returned to this city with the rescued.

The propeller Louisville, of the Ogdensburgh line, was totally destroyed by fire at 11 o'clock at night of the 26th ult. about ten miles from Chicago. The fire was early discovered amidships, but could not be reached on account of the manner in which the cargo was stowed on deck until all chance of saving the vessel was gone. Preparations were then made for saving the crew and passengers; and when it was impossible to remain any longer on board they were all got into the boats and, excepting one man who was drowned, taken to the schooner Elbe, Capt. Ruzer, which fortunately happened to be close at hand. The Louisville was valued at $20,000 and her cargo at $500. She was insured for half the amount.

The schooner William Wallace, Hugh McCabe, master, left Whitby for Toronto with a cargo of wood and stone on Friday last, and capsized near the Highlands. The captain, and two sailors on board, are supposed to be drowned.

p.3 During the past week the schooners Garden City, S.G. Andrews, Thornton, N. Johnson and J.H. Tiffany, with full cargoes of wheat, which cleared from Chicago to Kingston, to be re-shipped for Montreal, have arrived at Oswego and discharged their cargoes, in accordance with subsequent orders. One or two of these vessels had already arrived at Kingston, while the others received orders in the canal to change their course for Oswego.

The above, which we take from the Oswego Times of Monday, proves at once the propriety of the suggestion, made a short time ago, of additional elevators being erected in this harbor for the accommodation of the rapidly increasing transhipping business between the upper lakes and the St. Lawrence. It is now almost an established fact that the surplus agricultural productions of the Western States, annually augmenting in quantity to an almost incalculable extent, must of necessity pass to the sea through Canadian natural and artificial channels; and it has been already shown that grain shippers find it to their advantage to pass the grain in bulk from lake vessels to river barges; the "ventilation," or airing, which its passage through elevators affords it being of great benefit in removing any mustiness or dampness caused by long confinement in the holds of schooners, etc. Kingston, from its position at the foot of lake navigation, and at the head of river traffic, is exactly the place where the transhipment should occur, as most convenient and manageable in every respect. Under the circumstances it is next to imbecility to allow, or, rather, compel, as in the cases mentioned above, shippers to forward their cargoes to Oswego to be unladen, because of the want of facilities to accommodate their business here - thus causing an immense loss to the revenues of our canals, and the general business of this city, and of the merchants below. If the citizens of Kingston desire to see the place grow and the inhabitants prosper, they must display a little more energy than is at present manifested; and a better opportunity for the profitable exertion of enterprise cannot present itself than that now urging itself upon their attention in the speedy erection of a sufficient elevating power to relieve the burdened vessels from the West of their cargoes promptly and cheaply. We again commend this subject to the serious attention of Kingston capitalists and merchants.

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Oct. 8, 1857
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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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Daily News (Kingston, ON), Oct. 8, 1857