The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Watertown Times (Watertown, NY), Friday, July 15, 1921

Full Text
Abandon Big Sandy Coast Guard Post
Lake Traffic No Longer Passes In Vicinity
Famous Wrecks Recalled
Station Established over Half Century Ago When Port Ontario Was Port of Call

(Special To The Times.)

Ellisburg, July 15. - The Coast Guard station at the mouth of Big Sandy Creek has been closed, only the captain, Fay Noble, and one man being left as caretakers. It is rumored that the station will be moved to the Galloup Islands, where the most of the wrecks on this part of the lake occur. Merle McCune and Gordon Davis have been transferred to the Oswego station.

The Big Sandy station is one of the oldest on the lakes, having been established more than a half century ago. The original buildings are still in use, including the station and boathouse. There are now a number of cottages built around the station. The customary crew of eleven men and a captain has been on duty at the station.

At one time Port Ontario was a port of call and more important than Oswego. Big sailing vessels came in and need of a Coast Guard station was apparent. Port Ontario is about eight miles south of the station. Mexico Bay was at that time known as the graveyard of Lake Ontario and considered one of the most dangerous spots on the Great Lakes. A light house, not in use for the past 30 years, was located at the mouth of Salmon River at Port Ontario. In those days the city of Watertown was known as "the little village behind Sackets Harbor," and Sackets Harbor and Port Ontario were two of the leading ports on the lake. With the coming of steam vessels and railroads, conditions changed and the lighthouse, with the passing of Port Ontario as a port of call, was finally sold to Leopold Joah, Syracuse merchant, and used as a summer home.

Many of the most important wrecks on the Great Lakes have occurred near the station. In 1894 the schooner Hartford, bound from Chicago to Ogdensburg with 48,000 bushels of wheat, foundered two miles out and sank with her entire crew of eleven men, including Capt. William Consaul of Clayton who had a part interest in the schooner.

Owing to the distance from the shore, it was impossible for the crew of the Coast Guard station to use a breeches buoy and an attempt was masse to reach the vessel by boats, despite the high sea running. Both boats were crushed like egg shells and the attempt had to be abandoned. Captain Fish, in command of the station, suffered injuries so severe that he never entirely recovered and had to retire from active duty the following year. In 1892 occurred the wreck of the schooner John Burt, carrying 30,000 bushels of corn. The schooner went ashore and all but two of the crew saved. The cook, a woman, was caught by a falling spar and killed. The mate was killed by a hatch which fell upon him in the water.

Since the wreck of the Hartford the crew of the station had lived a life of comparative idleness, looking out mostly for the welfare of summer visitors who sailed around the vicinity in various kinds of craft. Traffic has gradually been diverted until now only traffic from Oswego to the river is protected by the station. All the larger boats no longer come by the Big Sandy station, with the abandonment of Port Ontario as a port of call. It is pointed out that a Coast Guard station at the Galloups is needed far more than the one at Big Sandy. Serious wrecks have occurred in the vicinity of the Galloups and thee is no station there at present. With the establishment of a Coast Guard station and a powerful wireless outfit, sailors would breathe easy once more when passing that part of the lakes.

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Friday, July 15, 1921
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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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Watertown Times (Watertown, NY), Friday, July 15, 1921