The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), July 27, 1869

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p.2 Shipping News - Glassford, Jones & Co's wharf - The barges America, Teviot and Mary, with 500 tons iron ore, from Port Henry, arrived this morning. The barges Dixie and Waterloo, with 27,000 bus wheat for Montreal, the sch Peerless, for Cleveland, with 250 tons iron ore, and the schs Cossack and F.D. Barker, light, for Oswego, today.

Swift & Co's wharf - The steamer St. Helen passed down last night. The steam barge R. Anglin left today for the Rideau.

Cleared for Kingston at Chicago on the 23rd inst., the bark Jessie Drummond, with 12,353 bush wheat, and the sch Kate Kelley, with 18,181 bush. The sch Star of Hope cleared for Kingston at Milwaukie, on the 22nd inst. with 15,200 bush wheat.

The bark Peshtigo, grain laden, and on her way to Buffalo from Chicago, was struck by a squall when off Gross Point, a short distance down Lake Michigan, at 2 p.m., Wednesday, which carried away everything above the foremast forward. The small boat was pulled back to Chicago by a tug, which went out and brought her into the harbour, arriving on Wednesday night. She was detained a day or two for repairs.

Georgian Bay - But a few years ago there was not a single tug or steamer on Georgian Bay, aside from the regular passenger steamers to Owen Sound, Sault Ste. Marie and Fort William; and the sail vessels engaged in trading on the bay averaged under fifty tons burden. Of late, however, the commerce on the bay has increased with great rapidity, leading to the hope that its ports will soon rank as first class shipping points. Several shipyards have been started, from which numerous sail vessels and tugs are yearly turned out, and cheaply too, as oak, pine, and tamarack timber is abundant. The barques Indian Maid, Silver Cloud, and two smaller vessels have been built near the Severn, and the brigs Queen of the North and Georgian, near Collingwood. The Indian Maid was constructed especially for the ocean trade. Several mill owners on the north shore intend building lumber barges during the coming winter, to be towed around the lakes.

Garden Island - The brig Sir Charles Napier, with timber from Toledo, arrived today. The sch. M.L. Breck and Bessie Berwick sailed today for above the Welland Canal.

Inquest Connected With The Late Accident at Jone's Falls

(continued from yesterday)

John Dennison was sworn - I am permanent lock labourer at Jones's Falls. I remember the 16th inst, the day upon which Michael Kelly was seriously injured. The third lock gates gave way; the gates were considered safe. Michael Kelly was in the locks below, in the second lock, upon the barge Algora, when the lock broke. I heard the crack, and both gates were lifted off, but cannot tell how the accident was occasioned. The gates injured were Nos. 2 and 3. I count the locks from below upwards. The first gate which gave way showed no signs of defect. (Upon being told by the coroner that there was a prevalent rumour that the government had been remonstrated with upon the condition of the gates, and had paid no heed to the remonstrance, he replied,) I am not aware of any condemnation of the gates, nor of any remonstrance having been made to the government. I do not consider that the gates which gave way were in the ruinous condition which has been reported. The other gates which broke, but which were not the occasion of the accident, were not sound. By a juror - I had formed an opinion in my own mind that the gates of the second lock were unsafe, but I never considered the gates which broke first unsafe. The lower lock did not give way. The witness did not appear, to questions from jurors, to be able to account for the gates giving way, as there was nothing more than the ordinary pressure of still water upon them. He could in no way account for the circumstance of the breakage. The witness would swear that he never noticed the gates yield to the pressure nor ever complained of such. Witness spoke of the gates which first gave way; the other, or second gate, witness had considered unsafe for a year.)

Capt. Burrowes explained that the lower lock being full of water the pressure was not so great, the water from above passing over the gate, and the walls each side, which accounted for this lower gate or No. 1 not giving way.

Dr. Sullivan was sworn - Early on Saturday morning of the 17th instant I was called to attend a man on board the tug Elsworth, who, I had been informed, had met with an accident at Jones's Falls. I had him conveyed to the Hotel Dieu Hospital. I found upon examination that there were fractures of the right leg and thigh, and of the pelvis, and I conjectured that there was a rapture of the bladder. The man had suffered a severe shock, and kept gradually sinking until he died. From a post mortem examination I consider death to have been occasioned by fracture of the pelvis and rupture of the bladder.

Michael Conelley was sworn - I am the captain of the tug Elsworth. I do not consider the gates were safe. I was told that the gates broke away from below about ten feet up. I think the gates would have given away long ago but for the leakage of the sills. I have known the gates a long while. The leakage had been stopped, which I believe caused the gates to give way. I think the authorities in charge of the locks are to blame for allowing the gates to remain in the state they have been for the past two years. I have heard it rumoured that the gates were condemned. I do not think that the dead pressure of the still water would have carried away the gates had they been in a safe condition.

John McKeon was sworn - I work on the barges of the Rideau Canl. I was always scared of the second gate, but had no fear of No. 3 gate. I have been on the canal for the past eight years. I do not know of any complaints having been made to Mr. Abbott or Mr. Slater. We have spoken to Mr. Dennison occasionally about the bad condition of the gates. I passed up through the locks in a wood scow on Thursday, the day before the accident, but noticed nothing particular at that time.

Edward Murray was sworn - I formerly attended the locks at Jones's Falls. I did so for seven seasons. I never could bring the gates of lock No. 3 (those which first gave way) to a true mitre. I left the locks in April of 1865. (To questions by the coroner as to the condition of the gates when he was there the witness was rather obscure in his answers. As near as possible he was understood to say that if the lock labourers did their duty, and no boat struck the gates they were not dangerous, but they were not safe against casualties.)

John D. Slater was sworn - I am superintendent of the canal. I reported the gates of No. 2 as rather unsound, but No. 3 gate's broken timber shows it to have been sound. The No. 2 gate had two cracked bars, but had these given way it would only make two holes. I never received any official complaint of the gates. I consider the accident to have occurred from the faulty construction of the gates, and not on account of the unsoundness of timber. They were put together in a faulty manner, which caused the heel post to split in two with the pressure, one part being carried away, and the other left standing. (The witness explained the manner in which the gates had been constructed, several others in the canal being similarly constructed.) Another reason could be given for the accident, which is, that the gates were not properly mitred. Although the gates were not what they ought to be, I did not consider them dangerous. A juror - is it not customary to leave old gates until some boat knocks against them, which gives occasion for the owners of boats to be proceeded against for damages? Oh no! this is all a mistake. I am not aware of any boat owner having been proceeded against for damages done to the locks. Certainly it is not the custom to leave in old gates for that purpose. The gates were eleven years old. With very little repairs a properly constructed gate should last for twenty years. Fifteen years is the minimum time. To question of a juror - I did not report that the gates (No. 2) were unsafe, but that they were showing some symptoms of failure, two bars being cracked, and it would be cheaper to put in a pair of new gates than to repair them. I am willing to acknowledge that the fact of the gates giving way from a pressure of still water shows that they were not in a safe condition, and that they were good for four years yet, we were mistaken. The gates were constructed upon the plans of Mr. Harvey and Col. Chatter. I did not from my own knowledge know, but merely from hearsay, how the gates were constructed until after the accident, when I examined them. (Mr. Slater remarked that had he condemned the construction of the gates his opinion would not probably receive any more attention than a mere opinion would be entitled to.)

Archibald Goodfellow was sworn - I have examined the gates which gave way. I cut them up to get off the iron. They are the soundest I ever cut up. They were perfectly sou;nd, and I cannot account for their giving away. I am a carpenter, and accustomed to cutting up gates.

The jury, after a short consultation, returned the following verdict. "That Michael Kelly died of injuries received on Friday, the 16th day of July, by the breaking of the lock gates at Jones's Falls, caused by the negligence of the government officials."

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July 27, 1869
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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), July 27, 1869