The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Thursday, Sept. 24, 1891

Full Text
To The Water's Edge.
The Steamer Geneva Goes Up In Smoke.
The Disaster Occurred at Beach Oswego yesterday. After the Boat Had Landed a Party of Excursionists - Lucky That the Fire Did not Occur Earlier.

Shortly after five o'clock yesterday afternoon the excursion steamer Geneva, owned by Mr. Nelson Skinner, burned to the water's edge while lying at the dock at Beach Oswego. The Geneva left here at 4:20 o'clock with a small number of excursionists for the Beach.

Captain George Atkinson was in charge and Mr. Skinner was in charge of the engine room. The trip to the Beach was without interest and the boat was made fast to the dock. Mr. Skinner stepped ashore and walked toward the grove. Captain Atkinson was the last one to leave the boat having gone back to take up the slack of the lines. Mr. Skinner had informed the excursion party that the boat would lay at the dock fifteen or twenty minutes before returning.

When Captain Atkinson had taken care of his lines he stepped ashore and had just reached the embankment when a couple of ladies called his attention to the smoke issuing from admidship of the Geneva. In less than a minute Captain Atkinson says the flames burst and the light cabin work was soon burning fiercely. Mr. Atkinson who was on shore rushed aboard the boat and saved the compass and other articles in the wheel house.

Half a dozen boys had left their shoes and stockings aboard the steam and they also made a rush for the burning boat to save their effects. Mr. Skinner had a narrow escape. After reaching the wheel house on the upper deck the flames seemed to fairly lick up the woodwork and the dock. One of the boys who went aboard after his shoes and stockings also came near being scorched. The upper works of the boat burned rapidly. The cabin was constructed of light wood and was as dry as tinder.

There was nothing at hand with which to fight the flames, and if there had been it is doubtful if the boat could have been saved. The fire appeared to spring from the engine room or around the boiler. In the engine room the woodwork was well saturated with grease and oil from the machinery and it burned fiercely.

The Geneva was built about fifteen years ago and was employed on the Bay of Quinte carrying passengers. About four years ago she was purchased by Rochester parties and used as an excursion boat at Charlotte. Last Fall she was purchased by Mr. Nelson Skinner and this season has been employed in the excursion business. When new the Geneva cost between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars. She was insured for $4,000 in companies represented here by F.D. Wheeler.

The machinery is the only part of the boat worth saving. The hull lies on the beach East of Three Mile Creek. There were many persons at the Beach during the fire. The crew and passengers came home on the electric cars. Captain Atkinson says that had the boat taken fire in the lake, and burned as rapidly as she did yesterday passengers would have been obliged to take to the water without waiting for the manning of the boats. He considers it fortunate that the fire did not break out while the boat was in the lake.

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Thursday, Sept. 24, 1891
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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), Thursday, Sept. 24, 1891