The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 19 Apr 1864

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HISTORY OF LAKE SUPERIOR NAVIGATION - In our issue a few days since, we presented a brief review of the early history of Lake Superior navigation and the traffic to Sault Ste. Marie., with the names of steamers which have plied to that locality during different seasons closing with the season of 1854. We purpose at this time giving a summary of events on this now important thoroughfare from 1855 up to the present season. The craft engaged composing the line in 1855 were the sidewheel boats Illinois, Captain John Wilson; North Star, Captain B. G. Sweet, Planet, Captain J. Nicholson; Northerner, Captain John Stewart and propeller Manhattan, Captain C. Sipley. During the season of 1856 we find the following steamers were on the route: North Star, Captain Sweet; Illinois, Captain Wilson; Planet, Captain Nicholson; propellers Gen. Taylor, Captain R. Ryder; and Manhattan, Captain Caldwell. The propeller Mineral Rock came out new that season and made a few trips, commanded by Captain John Frazer. The new propeller B. L. Webb came out new also the same year and was destroyed on her first trip at Waiska Bay. Subsequently she was rebuilt, and is now known as the Marquette. In 1857 the North Star and Illinois continued on the route, commanded the same as the season previous, also the Planet; the propellers Iron City, Captain Ferner [Turner]; Manhattan, Captain John Spaulding. Capt. Spaulding continued in command of the Manhattan until the new Propeller City of Superior was placed in commission, when he assumed command of the latter boat. The Superior made but three or four trips when she was wrecked on Lake Superior and became a total loss. The route was supplied during 1858 by the North Star, Captain Sweet; Illinois, Captain John Frazer; City of Cleveland, Captain J. M. Lundy; propellers Northern Light (new), Captain John Spaulding; Gen. Taylor, Capt. P. Maguire; Mineral Rock, Captain R. Ryder; and Iron City, Captain Turner. Sometime during the latter part of the season the City of Cleveland withdrew from the route and was run on Lake Michigan between Grand Haven and Milwaukee. The following season, 1859, the North Star, Illinois, Iron City, Northern Light and Mineral Rock continued on the route under the same commanders. The propeller Montgomery, Captain Nicholson, was added to the route. The Manhattan, Captain Ripley; and Gen. Taylor, Capt. G. H. Ryder, were also on the route. During the season of 1860 the competition on the Lake Superior route was more unusually brisk and a strong opposition maintained throughout the season, three steamers being added to the list. They consisted of the North Star, Captain Sweet; Seabird, Captain Blodgett; Illinois, Captain Frazer; Arctic, Captain F. S. Miller; Montgomery, Captain Nicholson; Fountain City, Captain E. M. Peck; Gen. Taylor, Captain J. G. Parker; Northern Light, Captain Spaulding; Mineral Rock, Captain Ryder. The Arctic was lost on Lake Superior during the early part of the season, and her place supplied by the Cleveland, Captain Miller. The Fountain City was withdrawn by sale the Buffalo and Chicago line of steamers. Ten steamers were more or less engaged on the line during the season of 1861. They consisted of the North Star, Captain Sweet; Illinois, John Halloran; City of Cleveland, Captain Ryder; Cleveland, Captain Miller; Planet, Captain Nicholson; propellers Northern Light, Captain Spaulding; Iron City, Captain Turner; Mineral Rock, Captain R. Ryder, and Gen. Taylor, Captain Geo. McKay. The steamer Gazelle (new), Captain B. Sweeney, was also added to the fleet, but was lost on her third or fourth trip at Eagle Harbor. The following steamers composed the line in 1862: Illinois, Captain R. Ryder; Planet, Captain J. P. Ward; Traveller, Captain F. S. Miller; City of Cleveland, Captain G. H. Ryder; propellers Iron City, Captain Turner; Northern Light, Captain Spaulding; Water Witch (new), Captain B. Sweeney; Mineral Rock, Captain Geo. McKay, and Gen. Taylor, Captain J. Halloran. The steamer Cleveland, between, during the latter part of the year plied between Chicago and Superior, and the Planet was put on that route also. The steamers which composed the line during the season of 1863 were the Cleveland, Captain John Rattray; City of Cleveland, Capt. Ben Wilkinson; Traveller, Captain F. S. Miller; Michigan, Captain A. Stewart; Illinois, Captain John Robertson; propellers Meteor (new), Captain R. Ryder; Pewabic, Captain George McKay; Mineral Rock, Captain J. Wilson; and Iron City, Captain J. E. Turner. Those consisting of the line the present season, we have already given in our article a few days since. The following steamers engaged from first to last in the Lake Superior and Sault Ste. Marie trade have been lost: Propeller Goliath (sic), in 1847; steamer Julia Palmer, 1847; Ben Franklin, 1850; propeller Monticello, 1851; propeller Independence, 1853; steamer Detroit, 1849; Albany, 1853; propeller Peninsula, 1854; steamer E. K. Collins, 1854; Baltimore, 1853; Super (sic), 1856; propellers B. L. Webb, 1856; City of Superior, 1857; Indiana, 1858; steamer (illegible) Gazelle, 1860; Lady Elgin, 1860; North Star burned at Cleveland, 1862; Sunbeam, 1863; Manhattan, 1861, and Gen. Taylor on Lake Michigan in 1860.

During the years above enumerated, other losses were sustained, including life, we refer mainly to cargoes being jettisoned or otherwise, all of which we have not pretended to enumerate in the above table. The total loss of life from the earliest period of navigation to or on Lake Superior probably does not exceed 500 lives, and the valuation of crafts wrecked or lost not far from $450,000, and the amount of cargoes $200,000. With scarcely an exception, these disasters have taken place while these vessels were on their upward bound trips.

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19 Apr 1864
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Dave Swayze
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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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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 19 Apr 1864