The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Helen Strong (Steamboat), aground, 18 Nov 1846
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Destructive Storm - Two Steam-Boats Lost, And Two Lake Vessels. - Yesterday we had a hard rain storm, which was followed by a furious north-west wind, blowing at times a perfect hurricane. It was a most dangerous wind for vessels on the Lake, and probably many have been wrecked, judging from the number in this vicinity.
Besides the H. STRONG, the steamboat MADISON ran ashore about a mile this side the State Line, or some six miles above the H. STRONG; but we can learn no particulars as to damage or situation; but she is probably on a beach.
The MADISON, it is now said, did not get aground, but made her way up the Lake, with the loss of her smoke pipes, till news of her condition reached Erie, when the NIAGARA put out and went to her assistance. She was safely towed into Erie.
The MADISON got into Erie in the night with the loss of one smoke pipe.
      The Westfield Messenger
      November 23, 1846 2-5

      Several Lives Lost
      Loss of the Steamer HELEN STRONG
      Loss of the Steamer INDIAN QUEEN
      EUROPE, SIZER and several Schooners
      A severe rain poured down all day on Thursday last, accompanied by a high wind. In the evening it commenced blowing a gale from the North West. It appears to have been severer west of us than here, and accounts from up the lake bring us melancholy intelligence of the loss of Iife and property. Being in disorder Saturday, on account of the removal of our office, we were unable to give the particulars until this morning, which will be found below, from various sources:
      The steamer HELEN STRONG went ashore about five miles above Barcelona -- two lives lost. One schooner (the SWAN) at Barcelona, high and dry; one about three miles below, name not known; a sloop above Barcelona, capsized -- probably all lost. The brig OSCEOLA about eight miles above Barcelona, ashore -- four hands lost; and the Schr.
CLEVELAND near the brig OSCEOLA.
The steamer HELEN STRONG will undoubtedly go to pieces, she is on a very rocky bound shore.
The steamer LEXINGTON, Capt. Randall, came in on Saturday afternoon from Erie, where she lay during the gale in safety.
The Steamers NIAGARA, MADISON, and NEW ORLEANS are safe at Erie. The new brig. JOHN ANCOCK, Capt. DeGroat went ashore just above the Erie Peninsula, on the rocks. One of her sides is stove in, and the hull otherwise damaged. It is feared she will be a total wreck.
The brig EUROPE, Capt.Rossman, is high and dry at Fairport. She will be got off without much damage.
The vessels ashore at Erie, on the Peninsula are the AINSWORTH, DAYTON, U.STATES, and CHARLES HOWARD. These vessels will probably be got off without much damage. The brig H.H. SIZER and schooner HURON are both total wrecks.
The little steamer COMMERCE, Capt.Traverse, came in about 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon, from Dunkirk, where she lay during the gale. The INDIAN QUEEN is ashore about a mile this side of Dunkirk, on the rocks, and is a perfect wreck.
Sixteen dead bodies have washed ashore at Barcelona on Saturday.
The schooner CONVOY had got as far up as Grand River, and was driven back. She arrived here without sustaining any damage.
The steamer ILLINOIS was out during the gale, but weathered it out with some slight damage , and arrived at Detroit in safety.
The GREAT WESTERN was aground in the Detroit River on Thursday, having run upon a bar on Wednesday night.
There were reports in town, this morning that two schooners were driven ashore between the city and Dunkirk on Sunday night last.
      EFFECTS OF THE GALE- ON Lake Ontario.
On Lake Ontario the gale was very severe. The schooner WESTERN, Capt. Bassett, is ashore on a sandbar at Irondequiot Bay; load of salt, bound for Cleveland. Schr. MISSOURI, Capt. Benson, is ashore at Braddock's Bay; load of 6,000 bushels of wheat. Schr. W.H. MERRITT, light, is also driven high and dry near Braddock's Bay. We learn
that A. Kelsey Esq, has gone to the assitance of the stranded vessels in one of his propellers, but at the time of writing we have no further particulars- - - Roch. Adv. 23rd.
      Daily Courier and Pilot (Buffalo)
      Tuesday November 24,1846

On Friday we visited the wreck of the HELEN STRONG. She lay under a perpendicular cliff formed by a point of land, on the extreme end of which grew a tree and a few saplings, some of which hung over the surf. As the boat struck,a hand felt those twigs,and seizing them clambered up. But the ropes had all been washed off, and the passengers lay there, in dim darkness, the boat thumping the rocks and crashing the timbers, till the man could go to dwellings nearby and procure assistance. But they all got off safe, and were taken care of by the neighbors, except a German woman who was lost, and a man who in the morning was supposed to be lost, but was afterwards found safe on board the wreck, and perhaps one or two more. When we were there, a good deal of baggage, and merchandise, and part of the furniture of the boat, had been gotten from the wreck, mostly damaged by water.
We should judge that most of the cargo might be rescued, though it will be damaged. Two new pianoes were on board, but were smashed to pieces. The fore end of the boat was broken off, and the side all jammed in, the fragments of it's frame being ground into splinters. About a mile below the wreck, the body of a man in sailors dress was found, his head badly mangled. He had about $60 in money in one pocket, in gold and silver, and one Dollar bill and a jack-knife were the only articles we could learn of that were found on him.
      Buffalo Courier
      Wed. Nov. 25, 1846
      . . . . .

      DISASTERS ON LAKE ERIE. --The steamer HELEN STRONG is ashore four miles above Barcelona -- a perfect wreck, and two lives lost. The steamer MADISON is ashore eight miles still further up, high and dry, but not much damaged as far as known yet. The steamer INDIAN QUEEN, Captain Staring, went ashore on the night of the 19th, about 10 o'clock, just above the lower point in Dunkirk Harbor. She was fully laden with goods for that port -- several hundred Dollars worth of which were thrown overboard after she struck, to enable her to near the shore. She now lies hard upon a rock bottom, with a good deal of water in her, and the rest of the cargo must be more or less damaged.
      The Brig OSCEOLA was blown ashore about four miles above the HELEN STRONG, opposite Quincy, and four of her hands were lost. The captain and mate were just alive when the last accounts left; she struck about ten in the evening, and it was eight the following morning before assistance could be obtained. The vessel is probably a wreck. A few rods above her, the schooner CLEVELAND also was driven ashore, and now lies high and dry, no water touching her; no lives lost, and the vessel not much damaged. Both the CLEVELAND and the OSCEOLA were without cargoes. The HELEN STRONG had an unusual cargo of dry goods, &c. The following vessels are reported ashore between Buffalo and Erie; Schooners DAYTON - J.H. LYON - UNITED STATES - H.H. SIZER - HOWARD AND HURON. A later arrival informs us that the steamers, MADISON - NEW ORLEANS - NIAGARA are safe at Erie. The MADISON had a severe time of it, and lost one of her pipes.
      Other vessels are mentioned as having gone ashore and sustained more or less damage, we shall probably hear of further disasters, the storm being a most violent one. It appears that sixteen dead bodies were washed ashore at Barcelona on Saturday. -- Toronto Colonist.
      The Argus, Kingston
      November 27, 1846
      _ _ _ _ _

      Terrible Gale on Lake Erie - Sixteen Bodies Found
Lake Erie was visited by a tremendous gale on Thursday, the 19th inst., which occasioned the loss of several vessels and a number of lives. Accounts state that sixteen bodies were picked up along shore.
Several vessels were cast ashore in the vicinity of Barcelona - among them are the HELEN STRONG, SWAN, OSCEOLA, CLEVELAND, and a sloop, name unknown, capsized.
The brig JOHN HANCOCK is ashore above Erie - total wreck; also the AINSWORTH, UNITED STATES, CHARLES, and A. P. HAYWOOD - will be got off with trifling damage. The brig EUROPE is ashore at Fair Point - damage slight.
The brig H.H.SIZER, and schooner HURON, at Erie, and the steamer INDIAN QUEEN, at Dunkirk, are total wrecks. There are 14 sail and three steam vessels ashore between Buffalo and Detroit. The shore for miles is strewn with fragments of wrecks.
      Gale on Lake Ontario - Vessels Lost.
      The storm which raged on Lake Erie, on Thursday, appears to have visited Lake Ontario with no great abatement on Friday. The vessels, the AINSWORTH and Canadian schr. GRAMPUS, broke from their moorings in Oswego harbor, and were driven on the rocks at Fort Ontario - both total wrecks. The crews of the two vessels were taken off by the yawl of the revenue cutter, lying in the harbor.
A schooner in attempting to enter the harbor, was driven past, and is reported ashore in Mexico Bay. Several vessels which had left Oswego Thursday for the upper lakes, returned after vain attempts to weather the gale.
At 9 o'clock on Friday night the wind was still blowing a perfect hurricane - and it is reasonable to suppose that immense damage was done that we have not yet heard of.
Since writing the above we learn by a gentleman from Oswego, that another terrible storm, no less disastrous than the first, visited the lake on Thursday morning last. he states that a Canadian schooner was driven ashore at Oswego on that morning and also that the pier on the east side of the river was considerably started from its foundation during the day, and it was feared would be swept away.
      Onondaga Gazette, Baldwinsville, N.Y.,
      November 30, 1846
      . . . . .
      Two Steamboats lost, and Two Lake Vessels.
The Steamboat HELEN STRONG, which left Buffalo yesterday afternoon, some time in the evening lost her rudder, and soon afterwards a steam pipe burst, rendering her engine useless, and leaving the boat wholly at the mercy of the winds and waves.
Capt. Edwards cast the anchor, and the boat rode with perfect ease, while the anchor held, but in half an hour it gave way and let the boat drift. About 10 o'clock she struck broadsides against the rocky coast, about four miles above Barcelona, the rocks towering nearly thirty feet above them.
The Engineer seized a rope, and finding some overhanging twigs in reach, climbed up the precipice and secured the rope, so that the others were saved, except two passengers, a man and a woman, names unknown.
The boat is a complete wreck, everything washed off from above, and the hull nearly broken in two, when the Captain left her this morning to procure assistance.
The Collector, Mr. Pratt, has gone up with him to the boat. Captain Edwards says he has been constantly on the Lake for 14 years, and never knew such a severe blow.
Besides the HELEN STRONG, the steamer MADISON ran ashore about a mile this side the State Liine, or some 6 miles above the HELEN STRONG but we learn no particulars as to damage or situation; but she is probably on a beach.
The Brig OSCEOLA, was blown ashore about 4 miles above the HELEN STRONG, opposite Quincy, and four of her hands were lost. The Captain and mate were just alive when the last accounts left. She struck about 10 in the evening, and it was 8 this morning before assistance was obtained. The vessel is probably a wreck.
A few rods above her the Schooner CLEVELAND also was driven ashore and now lies high and dry, no water touching her, no lives lost, and the vessel not much damaged. Both the CLEVELAND and the OSCEOLA were without cargoes, the HELEN STRONG had an unuasual cargo of dry goods,
      (Westfield Messenger, extra)
By a Gentleman from the west this afternoon, we learn that the following vessels are ashore between this and Erie; Schooners- DAYTON - HURON - J. H. LYONS - UNITED STATES - H. H. SIZER - CIIAS. HOWARD.
From Capt. Randall of the steamer LEXINGTON, just in, we learn that the Steamers MADISON - NEW ORLEANS - and NIAGARA are safe at Erie.
      the ARGUS, Kingston
      December I, 1846

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Reason: aground
Lives: 2
Remarks: Total loss
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  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.34034 Longitude: -79.59588
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Helen Strong (Steamboat), aground, 18 Nov 1846