The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 8 July, 1868

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THE ANNIE VOUGHT IN DRY DOCK. - This vessel, which withstood the buffetings of the elements since late last fall and until a few days past, on Spectacle Reef, Lake Huron, a locality far more dangerous than can be found anywhere else on the lakes, had at length been rescued and now lies in Clark's Dry Dock, in good shape for repairs. It will be remembered that immediately after the Vought had struck on the rocks, an equally fine steamer-built craft - the R. G. Winslow - also struck near the side of the former vessel, but owing to the tremendous seas which swept over her, she survived the violence of the gale but a few hours, when she was dashed to pieces and soon lost to view, her crew taking refuge aboard the Vought, or all would doubtless have perished. That the Vought should have passed through such tempestuous weather at so critical season of the year is a matter of wonderment to all acquainted with the locality and its surroundings. Spectacle reef occupies some forty acres, and is covered with a ledge of sharp, scraggy rocks of immense proportions, and rarely if ever has it been know of a vessel being rescued after once grounding there. On visiting the dock, which we did yesterday with others and on examination of her bottom as well as the interior of her hull, it was plainly evident that nothing save her strong and substantial build prevented her sharing the fate of the Winslow, which went down alongside of her. Aside from serious damage done to her bottom at various points, also some parts of the keel, this part of the hull has sustained no great amount of injury. She rested on the reef with her stern well down to the water's edge, and owing to the immense masses of ice which visited and was heaped on board of her was the means of forcing this part of the vessel adrift, and entirely separating it from the hull, and with the above exceptions the Annie Vought is in as good a shape to-day as when first launched. Some three months since she was purchased by Thomas L. Parker, of Chicago from John H. Vought, of Buffalo. She is now to be fitted out as a three-masted schooner, wire-rigged, and when completed we venture to say she will not only be one of the finest ships afloat on inland waters, but will be unsurpassed as regards strength. She possesses a beautiful model with excellent lines, and an examination of her hold presents ample evidence of her superior construction. She will be ready for sea in about one month, and when completed her entire cost will not exceed $30,000, notwithstanding efforts were made to get her off the reef on three different occasions. It was, however, Capt. Parker's determination from the first not to give up the ship and to know no such word as fail.


SPECTACLE REEF. - This dangerous shoal, situated in Lake Huron, occupies some forty acres of surface, but is invisible to the naked eye, except in still water or when immediately upon it. It is one of the most dangerous points found upon our Northern lakes, and although there are many acquainted with its compass bearings, there are, we venture to state, few who are acquainted with the immediate surroundings. For a distance of one mile square from the center, the depth of water gradually slopes outward to a depth of seven fathoms, when deeper water is found. We have introduced this article, however, more for the purpose of pointing out the importance and urgent necessity of establishing a lighthouse thereon, as a lightship, under any circumstances, would not meet the purposes. We are pleased to learn that steps to the above end are being taken, and it is hoped it will meet with a ready and willing response on the part of the government. Within the past three months, upward of $300,000 worth of property has been swallowed up, including two first-class new vessels, which were complete losses.

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The travails of the ANNIE VOUGHT and R. G. WINSLOW were among the incidents cited in the appeal to the government to build a light station on Spectacle Reef. The reef lies a few feet below the surface just about dead center in the eastern approach to the Straits of Mackinac. The light station was established in 1870 and the lighthouse completed in 1874 and is still operating. Ship wreckage had to be cleared off the site before the foundation could be set. The light has been cited as the most expensive lighthouse construction project built up to that time and for many years afterwards. The second part of the article is probably overblown as regards the record of accidents on the reef. According to my records, only five total losses occurred on it from 1850 to 1870(WINSLOW, ASIA, AUGUSTUS HANDY, KATE HAYES, NIGHTINGALE). It did seem, however, that there was always some vessel or another sitting out on that reef. Most of those were recovered, probably because there was always one or more big wreckers stationed in the Straits.
Date of Original:
8 July, 1868
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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), 8 July, 1868