The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), March 25, 1876

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Forty Years Ago
How an Engineer Was Reinstated on the Steamer Martha Ogden.

"Yes, we had some fine steamers in those days," remarked a gentleman, who came here and assisted the French in building the Fort, which stood where the Carrington Castle now stands, in speaking of forty years ago. "there was the Martha Ogden," he continued, "which belonged to Dennison & co., and formed one of their line between here and Dackets Harbor. She was a beauty in her day and quite speedy too. Speaking of the Ogden reminds me how her engineer, John Pheatt, an Oswego boy, was reinstated after he had been discharged. One day on the arrival of the steamer at this port, Sam Dennison sent word to John Pheatt he wanted to see him in the office, where the Northern Transportation office now is. Pheatt had an inkling that his head was going to go into the basket, as an Albany engineer was hanging around, waiting, macabre like, for something to turn up. He was at work repacking his cylinders when the messenger arrived, but like a good engineer he put his engine together before leaving, first quietly slipping a heavy oak stick into the cylinders.

"When Pheatt confronted Dennison he was informed that the Albany engineer had been hired in his place and that the line had no further use for him. Pheatt went home and the new engineer went aboard the Ogden to prepare her for sea. Fires were started in the furnaces, steam was produced, and just before the hour of departing the engineer thought he would work the engine to familiarize himself with it.

"Opening the throttle gradually, the steam rushed into the cylinder, the piston moved an inch or two, stopped, and although the full head of steam was turned on, refused to go to the center. The new engineer was in a quandary, examined all the bearings and joints, but could discover nothing wrong, and finally in despair informed the captain that the engine would not work.

"The time for leaving passed and although the new man did all in his power the wheels would not revolve. The boat was loaded with freight and passengers, and although the owner stormed about the wharf, angry at the delay, the engine would not obey. Along toward morning, Dennison, completely discomfitted, sent for Pheatt, and at the appearance of John, told him to go aboard of the boat and resume his position with an increase of salary.

"Pheatt went aboard, ordered the fireman to draw the fire, sent him ashore to find a blacksmith, (there were no machinists here in those days) and while he was gone quietly took off the cylinder heads, removed the oak sticks, replaced the heads, and when the fireman returned, the boat was ready for sea. As the boat swung around in the river Pheatt stood at the gangway, smiled on Dennison, and in an audible voice, remarked: "Discharge me, will you?'"

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March 25, 1876
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Richard Palmer
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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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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), March 25, 1876