A Serious Disaster - The Schooner LADY MACDONALD Dashed into the Lower Bridge - The Tug Unable to Hold Her.
About four o'clock this afternoon the LADY MACDONALD was seen coming into the harbor and the tug CUMMINGS started for her but the MACDONALD was going so fast that the tug could not get a line to her before she reached the island.
The speed of the MACDONALD was so great that she actually seemed to be towing the tug. Just below the bridge the tug struck bottom and the line parted and the MacDonald crashed into the bridge bows on, cutting through it nearly to the middle of the bridge. But that the schooner struck bottom before she reached the bridge it seems probably that she would have cut it entirely in two.
As it was the planking was torn up nearly to the middle of the bridge. A great crowd gathered to witness the most novel sight ever seen in the Harbor of Oswego. The MACDONALD barely missed the pier as she came in.
Oswego Daily Times
Mon., August 13, 1888
The MACDONALD Libeled - The City Will Attempt to Collect for the Damage Done to the Bridge From the Owners of the Vessel - Lively Work in Getting out the Necessary Papers.
Hundreds of our citizens visited the lower bridge yesterday afternoon to see the LADY MACDONALD stuck fast in the opening which she had made in striking the structure. That part which she had struck was a total wreck. The bridge irons were snapped off like pipe stems and the timbers and planking of the bridge on the north side broken and twisted.
The bridge seems to be twisted even to the draw and it is impossible to say at present what the damage is. Some put it as high into the thousands, while others think that $1,000 will put the structure in good repair. The bridge will be supported at once by heavy timbers so as to permit the passage of teams until the necessary repairs can be made.
As to the responsibility for the damage, several claims are made. The schooner narrowly missed striking the pier and being sunk while entering the harbor and although the effort was made, they could not get down the peak of the foresail in time. The damage to the vessel will not exceed $600 or $700 as it looks now. The tug worked at her for two hours and as soon as the rigging which clung to the fragments of the bridge had been cleared away the schooner was pulled off and taken to the drydock.
The principal damage is to the rigging forward and she will need a new bowsprit. Any other damage will be slight. It has been asserted that the schooner ought to have dropped her anchor when it was seen that she was going on to the bridge, but the captain says if that had been done at the speed at which the vessel was going, she would have been sunk. There are many who say that the tug did not work rapidly enough, but the tugmen say that when a vessel is going at the rate of fifteen miles an hour and a tug is only going twelve the chances are against catching the vessels. Where the blame really lies will be settled later.
Last night proceedings were commenced for the purpose of libeling the schooner, at least to hold her until it can be settled where the responsibility lies. Upon this point there is a great diversity of opinion, even among lawyers. Some claim that the city has a clear case, while other are just as decided in the opinion that the libel will not hold against the vessel.
The damage to the bridge was placed at $2,500 and the proper papers drawn up and the vessel is is now in charge of the United States marshal as she lies at Goble & Macfarlane's dock. It was ten o¦clock before the papers were got out and then it was impossible to find a judge, as Judge Churchill was out of town. In the dilemma General Manager Britton was appealed to and an arrangement was made by which Under Sheriff Van Buren was taken on board the midnight train and it was stopped long enough to enable him to get off at Mexico. He found Judge Wright, and the papers were perfected and the train from the west stopped at Mexico and took him up and he reached the city at two o'clock in the morning and the vessel was at once seized.
The city has put a force of men at work clearing away the bridge wreck, and as soon as it can possibly be done traffic across the bridge which is now interrupted, will be resumed. For the present it is considered unsafe for any one to drive across the bridge, although it may be used for foot passengers on the south side. There is a prospect for lively litigation before this matter is fully decided. The schooner is owned by Captain Hargrove and considerable sympathy is expressed for him.
Oswego Daily Times
Tues., August 14, 1888
Schooner LADY MACDONALD. Official Canada No. 71278. Of 284 tons Reg. Built Port Burwell, Ont. 1875. Home port, Port Burwell, Ont. 137.5 x 23.7 x 12.6 Owned by Charles S. Wilson of Picton, Ont.
List of Vessels on the Registry Books of
the Dominion of Canada on Dec. 31 1886