The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Grampus (Schooner), aground, 1 Nov 1846

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Oswego, Nov. 20.
The wind shifted last night from the south to the west, and blew a gale this morning. The British ship Grampus, loaded with timber and the schooner Ainsworth, with salt, parted their fastenings, and were driven ashore in the harbor, have sunk and are going to pieces.
The Grampus was ready and about to sail for Kingston: her crew and passengers were taken from the wreck this morning by the boats of the U.S. Ship Jefferson.
      We learn from the Advertiser of yesterday morning, that the schooner Missouri, freighted with wheat, downward bound, is ashore at Braddock's Point, a few miles west of the mouth of the Genesee.
      The Western, bound up, with salt, is also ashore at Irondequoit. The schrs. Albany, Wiman and Webster are also reported ashore near the mouth of Genesee. The Canadian schr. Royal Tar was towed in dismasted, on Saturday, by the steamboat Rochester. She was found lying at anchor at Sodus in this disabled state.
A small Canadian vessel is ashore at Little Sodus. She was carried so far ashore by the waves that the crew were able to step from the vessel to the ground.
The wind is again blowing heavily, from the north-west this morning. The weather is clear, however, so we do not apprehend any further damage, except to the grounded vessels. They will probably suffer severely. A Canadian vessel, without cargo, attempting to enter the harbor this morning, was blown ashore on the rocks a few feet from the spot where the Grampus lies.*
      Oswego Palladium
      Tuesday, November 24, 1846

*This area was thereafter known as "Grampus Bay."

      . . . . .

The Oswego Advertiser of Saturday says That on the morning previous, the wind blew with such terrific violence, as to drive two vessels from their moorings within the West Pier, on the rocks at the foot of Fort Ontario. The Canadian schooner GRAMPUS is the other vessel wrecked. She had recently been repaired and refitted having lost two of her masts and been otherwise injured in the gale of October, and was to have sailed with a heavy cargo of oak timber. All day the sea broke over her to the height ofher fore-top. She has broken amidship, and will doubtless be a total loss. She was a large and valuable vessel, belonging to Hamilton. the crews of both vessels were taken off in the morning by the yawl of the Revenue Cutter.
      Buffalo Courier
      Tuesday, November 24, 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

      . . . . .
TERRIBLE GALE -- TWO VESSELS LOST. -- The wind commenced blowing strongly from the north west about three o'clock yesterday morning, and soon increased to a fearful gale, which continued with little abatement during the day. The waters of the lake were in a frightful commotion, and the effects of the blow were felt within the walls of our harbor. Two vessels broke from their moorings just within the west pier and were driven on the rocks at the foot of Fort Ontario.
      One of them, the AINSWORTH, of Cleveland, was dismasted and thrown on her beam ends, where she now lies a total wreck. She was cleared only the day previous with a cargo of salt for Cleveland. The Canadian schooner GRAMPUS is the other vessel wrecked. She had recently been repaired and refitted - having lost two masts and been otherwise injured in the gale of October, and was to have sailed yesterday morning with a heavy cargo of oak timber. All day the sea broke over her to the height of the fore-top. She has broken amidships and will doubtless be a total loss. She was a large and valuable vessel, belonging to Hamilton.
      The crews of the two vessels were taken off in the morning by the yawl of the Revenue Cutter. ---- Oswego Whig.
      The Argus, Kingston
      December 1, 1846

      . . . . .

      A severe storm of wind and snow, accompanied by extreme cold, raged with increasing violence day and night Wednesday and Thursday (11/26). The blow exceeded if possible, in severity, the storm of last week. Had not most of the shipping of this lake been in port or ashore it would have doubtless suffered severly. The only accident that have come to our knowledge occurred in our own harbor. A small Kingston schooner which came over after the timber of the GRAMPUS, went ashore Thursday morning on the rocks further up and inland from that vessel. Four vessels are now lying on the rocks within the circut of a few rods. Two of them may be got off without serious injury. The others, Canadian bark GRAMPUS and schooner AINSWORTH, are badly damaged and will probably prove total wrecks. - Oswego Adv., Nov. 28.
      Rochester Tribune
      December 2, 1846

      . . . . .

      gale on Lake Ontario
      The Schooner Minerva, with 6,200 bushels of Wheat, and the W. H. Merritt, a Canadian
Vessel, without loading, went ashore at Braddock's Bay. The former will be a total loss. Likewise
the Cleveland, at Irondequoit Bay, with 250 bushels salt. Total loss. 1,000 bushels Wheat, taken
from the Schooner Missouri, wrecked near the Genesee River, have been brought into this port. She
has several feet of water in here hold. It is feared that the Western, ashore at Irondequoit Bay, will
be a total loss.
Another View
      We were visited by another severe storm of wind and snow on Wednesday and Thursday of
last week. The wind blew a perfect hurricane for upwards of 48 hours. But we suppose every thing
was either ashore, or in Port, and consequently that little damage was done. A Canadian vessel,
which came over after the loading of the Grampus, went ashore in our harbor on Thursday evening.
This is the fourth vessel which has been beached here during the late storms. About 40 feet of the
East Pier, of our harbor was carried away, on Thursday night, and the remainder is very badly
      Oswego Palladium
      December 1, 1846

      Harbor Bay Took Name From Wreck
      Schooner Grampus Went Ashore Under Fort in Fall of 1846
á Speculation along the waterfront always has been rife as to the origin of the name of Grampus Bay, that cove lying west of the embankment of Fort Ontario, on the Oswego River. Actually, it is perhaps the oldest part of the harbor in use for it was a natural place of shelter from the winds and waves of Lake Ontario through the original bará at the river mouth. No ocean aquatic monster ever blew water skyward there but instead, the Bay took the name from a small Canadian schooner called the Grampus.
      In the late autumn of 1846, a schooner in distress was seen 10 miles off the harbor, and a small steamer dispatched to her aid. She was the Grampus, laden with heavy timbers, and when taken into the harbor, was placed on the shipways of George S. Weeks and overhauled. Captain Young re-loaded his timber cargo, all heavy stuff, and moored his vessel to a west side river dock. Then, with evening coming on he went uptown to spend the hours until he could get away.
"A social evening" the newspapers of the time reported, but while wassail or what not prevailed so did old Boreas and a tremendous northwester rose during the night and the Grampus was swept across the river and high and dry on the shore beneath the fort, with other ships that felt the fury of the blast.
The others were hauled off, but the Grampus was beyond salvage and the ship and her timber cargo remained for seven or eight years, until it became a matter of habit for Oswego water-front habitues to refer to the cove as Grampus Bay. And Grampus Bay it is 99 years after the little ship there took the ground.
      Oswego Palladium Times
      November 20, 1945

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: oak timber
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.45535 Longitude: -76.5105
William R. McNeil
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Grampus (Schooner), aground, 1 Nov 1846