The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), May 16, 1861

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p.2 In consequence of the deficiency of storage accommodation and elevators at this port, a firm engaged in the transhipment trade have been compelled to send their barges to Cape Vincent, in order to get their grain discharged by the elevator belonging to the Railroad Company there. Thus Kingston sees the divergence of trade from this port, that with proper effort last fall might have been retained.

From the Spectator we learn that during the squall of Friday night the schooner Emma, of Hamilton, struck against one of the piers in entering the harbor of Port Dalhousie, stove a hole in her bow, was towed in, and sunk in a short time afterwards at the Welland Railway Wharf. She will be raised and repaired in a few days.


Two Lives Lost.

The steamer Comet, Captain F. Patterson, left this port for Toronto and Hamilton shortly after eight o'clock on Tuesday night. After clearing Nine-Mile Point she headed for Timber Island, to avoid the track of a number of vessels which were coming down the lake. When about ten miles from the Point she came in collision with the schooner Exchange of Cleveland; and subsequently sunk in deep water, the topmast alone being visible. The wind was blowing freshly from the South-west, and the schooner when seen from the Comet was running before the wind. The schooner was making for Kingston and carried a bright light forward. Captain Patterson bore the steamer up a point, in order to give the schooner a wide berth; but the schooner heading across the Comet's bow, as is stated, the two came in collision. The Comet struck the schooner's starboard side with her stern (sic - later corrected to stem -ed), springing the steamer's planks and opening her to the sea. The captain changed the steamer's course and bore after the schooner, they having hailed that they thought they were sinking and to keep close to bear a hand, but running past with the wind she got out of hailing distance.

Meanwhile the pumps were worked and the fires kept up for the purpose of making shore, the steamer at the time of collision being about ten miles above Nine-Mile Point. The firemen, waist deep in water, did not abandon their task until the fires were drowned; and if the steam had held out ten minutes longer, much would have been gained towards raising the steamer. During this time the life boat was swung out, with three lady passengers, one gentleman and the lady's maid, and brought round to leeward, and as many of the crew put into it as the captain deemed consistent with safety. These made for shore, but at the same time the large yawl was out towing astern and taking in water. Two hands, John Blake and John McCarthy, the former from the neighborhood of Kingston Mills, and the latter a salt-water boy from Dublin, Ireland, got out to bale her, but while about to do so she struck against the steamer's guards, thus throwing the men off their balance into the lake. Going down Blake cried out to his brother, a deck hand, "Good bye, Jim," and the "saltie" "Good bye, boys," and thus they bade them farewell. The Captain at this time was busily engaged in the endeavor to run the steamer ashore, but finding it fruitless had the small yawl put out with some thirteen men, amd made for shore under a heavy sea. To add to their peril all oars but one were lost in getting the boat out, but reduced to this and four or five cedar life-floats they made their way ashore to the Point. Filled beyond her capacity, a distance of another quarter of a mile would have swamped the boat and compelled them to swim. Mr. Ellerbeck, the purser, the men say, was cheerily cool, having remarked while handling his clumsy float that it was very useful, but would be much handier if he could only get a minute to whittle it down so that he could hold it better. Indeed the Captain says every man did his duty, and those who have any knowledge of the trying circumstances in which he himself was placed can imagine how he fulfilled his part.

The steamer went down about a mile and a half nearly west of Nine-Mile Point light-house in sixty feet of water. Several ship joiners who were at work on her fittings lost their tools, and the hands their clothing. But little freight was on board. At day-breaking yesterday (Wednesday) the steamer Pierrepont went up the Bateau Channel and took up the crew on the south side of Simcoe Island, and those at the lighthouse. Some had lighted a fire and were warming themselves on the shore, while those at the lighthouse found good quarters there. One of the ship-joiners was badly hurt from being struck in the back by the surging of the small yawl against the steamer's side.

It is supposed that the vessel's cabins will be destroyed from the elevating action of the water during her descent. It is probable, however, that the actual damage to her hull and machinery will not be very large, especially if the weather should prove favorable for a few days. It is doubtful whether an attempt will be made to raise her. The steamer was insured in Montreal, but we have not learned the amount.


We left Kingston on Monday night about a quarter past 8 o'clock for Toronto, the wind blowing from S.W. About half-past 9 o'clock, the mate having charge of the deck saw a vessel about a point off our larboard bow showing a bright light, running before the wind. We bore away a point to clear the vessel, supposing she would take her own side. Just before the collision I came out of the cabin and observed the vessel crossing our bows. We were so close at this time that I ordered the helm to be put aport, but seeing she was too close, I told the wheelsman to steady and hard astarboard, thinking to clear her stern, and at once ordered the engines to be stopped and backed at full steam. We struck the vessel aft the main rigging, but our headway being so much checked it did not injure the vessel materially. We immediately backed away, and I ordered the engine to go ahead again, to follow the schooner, supposing that we were not injured, but that the vessel was in danger; but the wind being fresh she ran away from us. As soon as we had got our headway on we discovered our danger, and men were sent below with blankets to stop the leak at the bow. I unbent the jib to make an apron to pass over the bow, but it got foul and did not drop. The water gained so rapidly that within a few minutes the Comet was in a sinking state. We tried to keep up the fires to run the steamer ashore, till the water put them out. We ran about four miles when we got the boats out, and placed the passengers and crew therein. There were three lady passengers and the lady's maid; they were early placed in the life boat, ready to be lowered at any moment. One of the quarter boats in lowering got unshipped from the davits and partly filled. John McCarty and John Blake were sent to bail it out, but in the swell the boat was struck by the guards, and the men losing their balance fell out and were drowned. Myself and the remainder of the crew took the remaining boat and landed at the Nine-Mile Point lighthouse. I got a skiff at the lighthouse and had it carried over to the Batteau Channel, and proceeded downward, overtaking the life boat, and we reached Kingston between 3 and 4 in the morning.


Mr. George Judson, master of the schooner Exchange, of Cleveland from Chicago to Kingston with grain to Glassford & Co., furnished our reporter with the following statement: - On Tuesday night the steamer Comet struck the Exchange on the starboard side almost midships, stem on, breaking our rail and three stanchions. The schooner was making eight and a half miles an hour at the time. The steamer glanced off and slewed round alongside and we passed by her. The captain of the Comet hailed us and asked us if we wanted any assistance. We answered that we were leaking, "come on." The steamer kept right after us but did not overhaul the Exchange. The schooner New London of Cleveland was close to the Exchange; the schooner Fulton of Oswego was also near by, both bound to this port. The steamer followed us some time, but fell astern. There was no bell rung nor whistle blown; and in consequence we thought she required no assistance. We supposed our vessel was in a sinking condition, and we ran down for the light at Nine Mile Point. The captain of the Comet behaved to us in a most manly manner. The damage to the schooner is not yet ascertained, and the damage to the grain, if any, is supposed to be very slight. Captain Judson also mentioned that the steamer was seen from the Exchange full half an hour before the collision; and he thinks that she was making an attempt to cross the schooner's bow.

News and other Items - The American schooner Thornton, arrived here on Monday night, in rounding to struck the bowsprit of the bark Great Western lying at anchor, and broke it short off.

Burning of the Steamer Saguenay - [Montreal Com. Advert. of Tuesday]

p.3 Customs Imports -

ad for str. Magnet for Toronto and Hamilton -

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May 16, 1861
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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), May 16, 1861