The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oregon (Propeller), exploded boiler, 20 Apr 1855


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OREGON Propeller, exploded near Hog Island, Detroit River. Propeller total . 17 lives lost. property loss $8,000
      Buffalo Morning Express
      Jan. 11, 1856

      . . . . .

We learned by last evening's Telegraph from Detroit, that the propeller OREGON, of Cleveland, exploded her boiler yesterday morning four miles above that city, killing three persons and injuring five or six others. The boat was completely shattered to pieces and went down. Loss $8,000. No insurance.
      Toronto Globe
      Friday, April 20, 1855

      . . . . .

      THE PROPELLER OREGON BLOWN UP ! - THIRTEEN LIVES LOST
The propeller OREGON, belonging to Captain Jones, of Cleveland, was blown up at the head of Hog Island, about seven miles from Detroit, on Friday morning. She started from Cleveland yesterday, having on board her own crew and the crews of the brig STANDART and the Barque FLYING CLOUD, both of which have been all winter near China, on the St. Clair River. They were going up for the purpose of bringing the vessels down. The crews were shipped at Cleveland, and some of them are unknown. When at the head of Hog Island, about a quarter to eight this morning, the boiler suddenly exploded with terrible violence, taking away all above it and around it, and making the propeller a total wreck. As far as we can ascertain, in the midst of such excitement and confusion, the following is a list of the saved and lost of the propeller OREGON:--
First Engineer, Mr.Chapman, of Cleveland; second Engineer, known as John, and coming from Berea; the cook, a colord man from Cleveland, name unknown; Tim Donnelly, a deck hand, from Cleveland; and Neddy McBride, a fireman, also from Cleveland, were all lost. The cook leaves a wife in Cleveland. His head was blown all to pieces, and his body was frightfully mangled.
      There were saved, Capt. Stewart, who has a broken leg; both mates; Michael Campion, a fireman, and James Kelly, a deck-hand, all with comparatively slight injuries. The Captain of the STANDART was saved, although blown into the air, escaping with only some sprains and bruises. The mate, James Martin, and the cook, Coffinger, and a sailor named Christie, were also saved, though badly hurt, having broken legs.
Three of the crew were lost, but their names are not known by the captain, as they were freshly shipped at Cleveland.
The captain of the barque FLYING CLOUD was unhurt. Also, the mate and one of the crew. Three of that crew were lost---names at present unknown.
      Capt. Glazier of the STANDART, informs the Detroit Tribune that at least twelve were lost, and the probability is that the number will reach sixteen or seventeen. Many were blown into the water, and never seen.
Mr. Reeder, of Cleveland, died while being taken to the hospital in the wagon in which he was conveyed. Two more are having their legs amputated, of whom Dr. Pitcher thinks one will die.
The OREGON was now owned by Captain G.W. Jones, and was one of the old class of propellers. She was built at Black River, some years since, and has been owned by one of the Railroad Companies until lately, when she passed into the hands of Capt. Jones, who was her builder.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Monday, April 23, 1855

      . . . . .
     
      THE PROPELLER OREGON.---We find, in the Cleveland Plaindealer, some further statements in reference to the late serious disaster. The second mate of the FLYING CLOUD, who was a passenger on board, relates some particulars which go to fix the whole blame upon the Engineer, who has paid, with his life, the forfeit of his carelessness. The second mate was, just previous to the catastrophe, with the two engineers, Chapman and Furnier, in the engine room. The cocks were then tried, and the boiler foamed -- showing the water to be very low --- too low for safety. The mate of the FLYING CLOUD remarked that there was danger of the boiler's bursting; but engineer Chapman replied, "that cant be done." The mate replied, "I'd give all my old shoes if I was ashore," the engineer
immediately began filling the boilers with water. After the remark, the mate immediately went up, and had not gone half way to the bow before the boiler exploded. Chapman was killed at once. The boilers had been officially tested last season, and pronounced capable of standing a pressure of one hundred and twenty-eight pounds.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Tuesday, April 24, 1855

      . . . . .

THE EXPLOSION OF THE OREGON.---We are informed that the recent disaster, in which the propeller OREGON was involved, was, to some extent, attributable to a cause which may have its effect frequently in similar catastrophes. That is, the incompetency of the Engineer, who, though he paid the last forfeit of his want of skill, was not alone the
sufferer by the accident. Our informant states that a Mr. Mooney, who had, for two years, run the engine of the OREGON, was this year superceeded by a cheaper man, and one who, though of sufficient experience, was, unfortunately, not an apt learner. He was, we are told, the engineer of the TROY, which boat it will be remembered, also blew up.
The boiler of the OREGON had, as all boiler have, some pecuilarities which, without long acquaintance, the engineer would not learn to study and guard against; and of these peculiarities Mr. Mooney, the former Engineer, warned the owners of the propeller. But poor Chapman, either not comprehending the importance of watchfulness, or deceived by the unusual and, to him, unaccustomed appearances about the boiler, suffered the water to get low, and then, on throwing in the cold jet, an explosion followed, of course.
      Our informant is an old engineer, and a man who should be capable of judging in such manners; he has no hesitation in stating his belief that the incompetence of the engineer was the cause of the explosion. And this single fact contains an abundant lesson on the necessity of selecting, competent and in every way proper men for such responsibility as are in the hands of an engineer. And it teaches, for the ten-thousandth time, the truth of that saying that if you want competent men you must pay for them. The lives of human beings should never be jeopardised and endangered mearly for the sake of saving a few dollars. It is a poor economy that saves in salaries to lose in blood and brains.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Wednesday, April 25, 1855

      . . . . .

THE OREGON'S WRECK. --- On Saturday night last, two or three vessels came near running on to the wreck of the OREGON, which lies in the south channel, directly in the path of vessels going up and down. The Detroit papers suggest to Collector Harmon, the necessity of having proper light erected there immediately, or further accidents may grow out of the one by which the OREGON was lost.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Thursday, April 26, 1855

      . . . . .

      Further Particulars Of The Loss Of The
      Propeller "OREGON" (from the Cleveland 'Herald') George Rice, the 2nd. mate, who was on board the OREGON, has just come down, and says the cause of the explosion was the foaming of the boiler, and the engineer was thus deceived as to the quantity of water in the boilers.
The mate of the FLYING CLOUD, was standing by the engineer, named Chapman, and said to him, "the water is low, and you will blow us up," Chapman replied, "0h no,! you can't blow her up," the mate replied, "I would give all my old shoes if I were ashore," and immediately left the engineer for the upper deck, to go forward, and when about half way forward, the boilers exploded.
Both engineers were standing by the engine at the time of this conversation and for some reason the mate of the CLOUD thought that the water was low, and the answer from Chapman, that she could not blow up, was because of his knowledge of the thorough manner in which the boilers had been tested and examined, by himself and the boiler inspector.
Before the OREGON left on her fatal trip, she had towed a vessel from Black River, and one from Euclid to this port, and is was supposed by Capt. Jones -- than whom a more competent, or more careful man does not live -- that she was in perfect order; and she was severely tried, before put upon her regular business. Capt. Jones' last orders to the engineer were to have everything right about the engine, regardless of expense.
Capt. Stewart was standing about 1O feet forward of the Pilot IIouse, at the time of the explosian, and he was thrown up some six feet, and on striking upon the deck broke his leg, about three inches below the knee. He was taken to Detroit, his leg set, and last evening was quite comfortable.
The engineer Chapman, was a first class engineer and was secured by Capt. Jones at Chapman's new rates, for the purpose of having the OREGON in competent hands, and Capt. Jones believes that the foaming of the water in the boilers caused the deception.
After the explosion the mate of the FLYING CLOUD walked after and saw that the engine and boilers were blown entirely out of the boat; he then went forward to loosen the jib to run her for shore and --?--crease--?--- found that she was sinking, and she sunk in a few minutes. A portion of the vessel remained above water. The number of lives lost were ten..
      Toronto Globe
      April 30, 1855

      . . . . .

WRECK OF THE OREGON.---The wreck of the propeller OREGON, lying in the channel for several days after the explosion, has disappeared, having gone to the bottom of the river. We presume the water is deep enough to take it out of the way of passing vessels, though it would be well to have that matter examined into.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Wednesday, May 2, 1855

      . . . . .

      NOTICE TO MARINERS. --- We would caution mariners navigating the Detroit River relative to wreck of the OREGON, which is now sunk below the surface in the channel, in a very dangerous position for vessels passing up or down. There is no buoy or mark to show where the sunken wreck lies, and this creates the difficulty. The OREGON lies a little below the upper fish houses on Hog Island, about midwat between the banks and rather on the British side of the channel, without anything above water to indicate her position.
Vessels passing should keep well in with the point on Hog Island. -- Detroit Dem. & Inq.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Monday, May 14, 1855



WRECK OF THE OREGON.---Mr. Harrington, the diver has been at work for the past week or two upon the wreck of the propeller OREGON. It is his opinion that the bodies of the men that have been picked up in the vicinity of Trenton, floated out from the ruins of the vessel. He has recovered the anchor and chains, force pump, hawser and windlass, and has removed a large limber that was firmly fastened in an upright position, and reached to within five or six feet of the surface of the channel, rendering navigation, especially to downward bound vessels very dangerous. By its removal the channel is left clear enough for vessels. - Detroit Tribune, 4th.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Friday, June 8, 1855


Steam screw OREGON. Of 312 tons gross. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1845. First home port, Cleveland Ohio. DISPOSITION. - Lost 1855 by exploding April 20, 1855 at Detroit, Mich., with the loss of 12 lives.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      Lytle - Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868
     
     
TO BE REBUILT. -- The Detroit Free Press sdays: ":The hull of the propeller OREGON, which exploded three years this spring, just above this city, have been taken to the dry dock to be rebuilt. On Saturday, when she was examined, the bones of two of her unfortunate crew were found in the hold, together with a boot containing the leg and foot of another.
      Buffalo Daily republic
      May 18, 1859
     
     


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: exploded boiler
Lives: 12
Hull damage: $8,000
Remarks: Raised for rebuilding 1859 ?
Date of Original:
1855
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.763
Language of Item:
English
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.34004 Longitude: -82.98047
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Oregon (Propeller), exploded boiler, 20 Apr 1855