The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Friday, July 5, 1878

Full Text
A Canadian Steamer with Between Three and Four Hundred Passengers Out All Night -
Following a Propeller Light Down the Lake - Rescued and Brought into Port by a Woman.
An Excursion.

The steamer Hastings arrived here about 9 A. M. yesterday with an excursion, most of the party remaining to see the celebration. She left at 10 A. M. with another party of between 300 and 400 people, a large number of whom were from Syracuse, bound for Kingston, and was due here on the return at 9 P. M. She did not arrive the, however, nor till 7 A. M. today - and she perhaps never would have arrived at all except for the favorable circumstance of clear and calm weather and the fact that there happened to be a woman there who knew more about navigation than anyone else on board.

Statement Of The Trip

The Hastings left Kingston about 5 P. M. When about 15 miles from Oswego she sighted the light of the H. T. propeller City of Toledo, bound for Kingston, which left here at 8 P. M. Taking it to be the Oswego light she followed it back to the Ducks or thereabouts and at daylight found herself somewhere in the vicinity of Mexico bay, whereupon she put about and reached here at 7 A. M. From all obtainable accounts, there was no one aboard competent to navigate the steamer, and she was finally substantially taken in charge of a woman, who ascertained her situation and was practically in command.

The Woman's Story.

Martha Hart, an Oswego woman, who has sailed the lakes as a cook at various periods for the past 10 or 10 years, happened to be aboard.

Following is her statement to a Palladium reporter.

We left Kingston at 5:30 p. m. ; between 11 and 12 P. M. they spied the light of an N. T. boat and followed her down the lake until they got below the Galloup islands and about 4 miles from shore; there they let her lay to the mercy of the waves had thee been any and if there was any all would have been lost; we stayed here till the morning star made its appearance; the wheelsman point her for it; there was no captain, mate, nor sailor to be seen all night; he run her for the morning star, running wild until we saw land at Nine Mile point, about half past five; the wheelsman run her, no captain nor mate giving any orders; we reached the dock about half past seven; at 2:30 A. M. I told them they were near Sackets Harbor, below the Galloup and told them, to point south and pointed out the direction to Oswego; I made use of marine glasses which I had borrowed, the boat's glasses not being good for anything; I told the passengers if they set the table, to go for it; and they didn't set any table; we didn't have a bite to eat and couldn't buy it; neither could we even get a bunk to sleep in; the passengers were very much excited and alarmed and anxious to get home.


The statement that no one appeared to be competent to navigate the steamer is corroborated by other passengers. This woman further says that there was no chart aboard. Before, or soon after they started to follow off the N. T. boat, she saw the Oswego light and pointed it out, but the wheelsman thought he knew better and refused to steer for it. She also relates that when she became satisfied that they were getting dangerously near land, she went down and told the engineer that they would be ashore and that he then stopped the engine after which they floated around indiscriminately.

An Awful Exposure of Life.

The night was perfectly clear; there was no wind, and there can be nothing but the gravest censure for the exposure of the lives of a large number of people. Oswego families who had relatives aboard spent an anxious night, and the Canadian excursionists who awaited the boat wandered about the streets most of the night. The affair has excited both ridicule and indignation here - ridicule at the inefficiency of the commanding officer of the Hastings, and indignation at so dangerous an exposure to human life.

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Date of Original:
Friday, July 5, 1878
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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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Friday, July 5, 1878