The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 18 Apr 1858

Full Text
Steamboat Disasters on the Lakes

The following article gives the dates of all the important steamboat disasters that have ever occurred on the western lakes, from the time of the Ontario, a little craft which is said to have preceded the Walk-in-the-Water, built in 1816, up to 1848, a period of thirty-two years. We shall complete the list in another article, thus furnishing the only full account of steamboat disasters on the lakes that has ever been published.

The Ontario, built in 1816 at Sackett s Harbor; wrecked at Oswego in 1833. The Walk-in-the-Water made her first trip to Mackinaw in 1819, and was lost in a gale near Buffalo the first of November, 1821. The Superior was converted into a ship, and lost at Michigan City in the fall of 1843. The Henry Clay, Niagara 1st, Enterprise, Ohio, Sheldon Thompson, William Penn, Perseverance, and Michigan 1st have, together with several other old craft, all been broken up. The Peacock, also broken up, burst her boiler in the month of September, 1830 off Point Abino, and fifteen lives were lost. The Pioneer was wrecked on Lake Michigan on the 9th July, 1834, and her crew and passengers later saved by the schooner Marengo, Captain (illegible). The Adelaide, afterwards called the Eclipse, ran during the season of 1837. In the fall of that year she was seized at Detroit for a violation of the revenue laws, and her name was changed to Champlain. She was afterwards wrecked at New Buffalo in 1840. The Caroline was burned by a party of British under the command of Captain Drew, R.N., on the night of the 19th of December, 1837, while lying at Schlosser; one life lost certain. The Detroit 1st was wrecked at Southport in 1836. The Little Western was burned at Detroit in 1842. The Perry s boilers exploded twice in 1835, causing the death of 6 persons, and she came in collision twice with other vessels, in one of which a man was killed. The Daniel Webster was burned to the water s edge in Buffalo harbor on the evening of the 11th January, 1835, and was rebuilt the same winter. The Uncle Sam, in 1844, was altered to a brig. The Gov. Marcy was rebuilt at Detroit in 1844. In 1833 the Washington 1st was lost on Long Point on her third trip, and one man was drowned. The Sandusky went ashore at Sandusky in the month of December, 1834; was burned at Buffalo on the 22d of February, 1843; was afterwards rebuilt and converted into a barque, and lost in 1845 at Cattaraugus. The Gen. Porter was sold to the British during the patriot excitement on our frontier, was afterwards purchased by Captian Gager, and rebuilt by him in 1844 as a propeller. The Robert Fulton was lost in a gale near Sturgeon Point in 1844; and the W.F.P. Taylor, having been partially burned in the autumn of 1836, at the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek, with the loss of one man, who jumped overboard and was drowned, was wrecked at Michigan City in 1838. The Cynthia, a Canadian ferry boat, was burned at Malden in 1838. The Thames was burnt in 1838 by the patriots at Windsor, C.W. The Barcelona, formerly the Princess Victoria, was altered into a schooner in 1842. The Cincinnati was altered into the schooner John F. Porter in 1842. The Little Erie was sunk in Lake St. Clair by the ice in 1843. The Delaware was wrecked near Chicago on 19th June, 1836.

The Crockett was wrecked near St. Joseph in 1834. The Don Quixote was wrecked in Lake Huron in 1836. The steamer New England went ashore near Fairport in 1838. The Erie, in the month of August, 1840, burst her boiler, occasioning the death of six persons, and on the night of the 9th of August, 1841, she was burned off Silver Creek, by which disaster over two hundred fifty lives were lost. The Rhode Island, formerly the Saginaw, was rebuilt and enlarged in 1843, afterwards called the St. Clair; on the 13th of November, 1846, she came in collision with the Red Jacket in Detroit River, and was sunk. The Macomb, in the fall of 1842, went ashore at the mouth of the Detroit River. The Minnesetunk, afterwards the Goderich, came into collision with the Erie in Detroit River in the month of August, 1840, and was sunk. The steamer known as the Goderich was formerly known as the Gore, L.L. The Star was burnt at Buffalo in the winter of 1845, while laid up.

The Gen. Vance burst her boiler while lying at Windsor, opposite Detroit June 25, 1844, by which accident six lives were lost, including the captain, and the vessel became a total wreck. The Great Western was burned to the water s edge at Detroit on the 1st of September, 1839; was afterwards rebuilt. The Vermillion was burned to the water s edge at Detroit in the month of November, 1842; five lives lost. She was afterwards raised, rebuilt and enlarged, and changed to the New Orleans. The Fairport was burned to the water s edge at Algonac in 1844, was afterwards rebuilt and called the Tecumseh, and was used as a tow-boat on the St. Clair Flats. The Washington 2nd was burned off Silver Creek on 2nd June, 1838; number of lives lost from fifty to sixty. The G.W. Dole was sunk in Buffalo Creek in the spring of 1846, was raised and taken to Detroit, and converted into a schooner. The Chautauque was driven ashore at Sandytown, near Buffalo, during the great gale of October 16, 1844, and was afterwards seriously injured in her upper works during the freshet in the spring of 1846, while lying in Buffalo Creek. The Kent came in collision with the steamer London on the 12th of August, 1846, near Point au Pelee, and was sunk, with the loss of ten or fifteen lives. The Bunker Hill and brig Fashion came in collision off Madison dock, in June, 1846, in which both were seriously injured. The Wolcott and Lucy A. Blossom came in collision in Detroit River of the 16th November, 1846, and the former was sunk. The upper works of the Detroit 3rd were burned in the spring of 1846, while lying at Newport. The Helen Strong, on the night of the 19th of November, 1847, in a tremendous gale from the northwest, broke her wheel chains and burst her steam pipe, by which she became unmanageable and was compelled to come to anchor; the gale increasing, he parted her chains and was driven ashore 4 miles above Barcelona, and became a toal wreck, two passengers, a man and a woman, were drowned. The Indian Queen went ashore the same night at Dunkirk, and became a total loss. The Madison, in the same gale had one of her smoke pipes blown down, but she succeeded in reaching Erie. The Boston, while discharging at the pier in Milwaukee, on the 24th of November, 1846, was compelled, through the violence of a northwest gale, to put out into the lake, but, after proceeding a short distance, her smoke pipes were blown down and, becoming unmanageable, she backed on the beach about a mile south of the piers, and became a total wreck. The propeller Emigrant came out in 1843 as a brig-rigged propeller, and was lost on Avon Point the same year. The Independence was hauled around the Falls Ste. Marie in 1845. The steamboat Porter was built at Black Rock in 1834 was sold to the British during the patriot war, was re purchased and altered into a propeller in 1844. The Phoenix came in collision with the steamer Troy in 1845. The California went ashore on Pointe au Pelee in September, 1846. The Goliah sprang a leak on Lake Erie in 1846, during a gale of wind, and was driven ashore on Avon Point, after having thrown overboard her deck load of flour. The Ontario came in collision with the steamer Chesapeake at Cleveland, by which both were somewhat damaged.

Media Type:
Item Type:
While purporting to mention all steamboat disasters, the article covers mainly American vessels.
Date of Original:
18 Apr 1858
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Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
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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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 18 Apr 1858