The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Troy (Propeller), broke machinery, 22 Sep 1854

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TROY Propeller, burst her boiler off Chicago, Lake Michigan, killed one man. Property loss $1,000
      Buffalo Democracy
      Feb. 28, 1855 (casualty list)

      . . . . .

EXPLOSION ON PROPELLER "TROY" ---The propeller TROY, which left Chicago on Friday last, for Grand Haven, when some ten miles out, exploded her boiler, killing one of the firemen, named John Robinson. The explosion was owing to a copper pipe leading from the water jacket to the steam boiler, becoming chocked with sediment; and the force-pump which feeds the water jacket, being constantly at work, the water thus forced in could not escape sufficiently fast through the pipe to the boiler, to relieve the hydraulic pressure, the inevitable consequence was the bursting of the water jacket. On being disabled, and unable to return to port, with her sail, on account of a head wind, she immediately came to anchor in the lake. A boat under the charge of an officer, was sent ashore to procure a steam tug and a physician, but owing to a head sea, the boat did not arrive until 2 o'clock in the morning. The tug ROBERT FOLLETT reached the propeller about four hours afterwards, and towed her back to port. The propeller was but little damaged, and will resume her trips in a few days.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Wednesday, September 27, 1854

      . . . . .

The Chicago Journal of Monday state that on Friday evening last the propeller TROY, Capt. Warren, bound from Chicago to Grand River, exploded her boiler when about ten miles from Chicago, fatally scalding John Robinson, a fireman severely scalding Henry McNesbitt, engineer, and Angus Cameron, fireman. The TROY was towed into Chicago. Robinson lingered in great agony a few hours. There was twenty five passengers on board one of whom was slightly scalded.
      Cleveland Morning Leader
      Thursday, September 28, 1854

      The Chicago Times, of Monday last gives the following:-
      The propeller TROY left this port on Friday evening last, with a small cargo of merchandize for Grand Haven. When about ten miles out, and eight off land, her boiler suddenly exploded, killing John Robinson, a fireman, and scalding the face and hands of Henry McNesbitt, the first engineer; and Angus Cameron, a fireman, pretty badly. Her sails were set immediately for the shore, and she anchored about half a mile from land. The mate and two men were dispatched in yawl back to this city to procure a tug and surgeon; which, however, they were unable to do until daylight on Saturday morning, when the propeller tug FOLLETT started with assistance for the disabled boat and crew.
      The TROY was towed back to this city, and search instituted for the cause of the explosion. The inside jacket of the water reservoir, surrounding the boiler, and separated from it by a narrow fire flue, was found to be burst through, evidently by the force of the water pressing upon it. No little wonder existed on the part of the inspectors, how the explosion could happen in such a manner; until the conducting pipe, through which the water made its way from the reservoir to the generator, was cut off. This pipe was found to be coated on the interior surface with solid stone, deposited from the water, in some places so thick that it was almost entirely closed. The escape of the water being thus stopped, while the force-pump by which it was introduced continued at work, a burst somewhere became inevitable.
      The investigation of this matter reveals a fact new to us, though not altogether unknown to engineers and other lake navigators. An explosion had once previously taken place from precisely a like cause--that of the propeller OGONTZ, on Lake Erie; and we believe the propeller MAYFLOWER once had her heater ripped open its whole length by hydrostatic pressure, occasioned by the clogging of a valve with deposits from the water. Though it would seem strange that a pipe over two inches in diameter should become, in less than a single season, (The TROY's engine was thoroughly overhauled last spring,) totally filled with
solid limestone from the lake water, yet those accidents would indicate the necessity of making frequent examination of the water pipes and valves used on our lake steamboats, in order to avoid the recurrence of like calamities.
      Robinson, whose death resulted from the explosion, had shipped only on Friday morning. His body was interred in this city. The two wounded men were placed in the hospital.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Saturday, September 30, 1854

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: broke machinery
Lives: 1
Hull damage: $1,000
Freight: merchandise
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.85003 Longitude: -87.65005
William R. McNeil
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Troy (Propeller), broke machinery, 22 Sep 1854