The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Challenge (Propeller), exploded and sunk, 22 Jun 1853

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CHALLENGE Propeller, exploded and sunk on Lake Huron, cargo produce. Total loss, vessel $30,000 Cargo $11,894. Total property loss $41,894 and five lives lost.
      Buffalo Express
      Jan. 2, 1854 (casualty list)

      . . . . .

      Detroit, 23.
The propeller CHALLENGE, from Chicago, burst her boiler and sunk in three minutes, fifteen miles east of Mackinaw, Wednesday morning, 22d instant. Three of the crew and two passengers drowned. 23 picked up by schooner NORTH STAR and brought to Detroit by propeller BUCEPHALUS. Cargo 2,300 bushels oats; 557 barrels pork. - - - Telegraph (O'Riley Western Line)

      Friday, June 24.
LOSS OF THE PROPELLER CHALLENGE.- This fine new vessel on her way down from Chicago, and while in Lake Huron yesterday, burst her boilers, blowing out her stern. Five passengers were killed, and the vessel sunk in five minutes in about sixty feet of water. The propeller BUCEPHALUS coming up at the time, too off the crew and passengers and brought them down to Detroit.
The CHALLENGE was built during the past winter at Detroit, and was owned by Capt. Hart, H.N. Strong, John Pease and others, and was valued at $30,000. She had on board a cargo of oats for Mann, Vail & Co., which was insured. The CHALLENGE is supposed to be a total loss, and was insured in the Sun office for $12,000, and $6,000 in the Merchant's Mutual of new York.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Friday, June 24, 1853

      . . . . .

TERRIBLE EXPLOSION - LOSS OF LIFE.- The Detroit Free Press says:- Between 1 and 11 o'clock Wednesday morning, the propeller CHALLENGE, (lately built at this port,) while about 20 miles below Mackinac, bound down,
exploded her boiler with the most disastrous effects. Five persons were killed, and three severely and one slightly injured. The stern of the boat was blown off, and she sank in about five minutes.
The passengers and crew escaped in two boats, and were picked up shortly afterwards by the schooner NORTH STAR, which was about ten miles distant at the time of the explosion, and hearing the report, hastened to the rescue. The NORTH STAR meeting the propeller BUCEPHALUS, bound for this port, the survivors were transferred to the latter vessel, which arrived here last evening.
The names of the killed are as follows: Harrison Wilson, Isaac King, Timothy McPherson, (all colored men) deck hands; George Spallman, a young man, not attached to the vessel, but he was working his passage; and a passenger from Mackinac, whose name was unknown to our informant.
The wounded are James C. Howard, 2nd. Engineer; Henry Neal, cook; and one of the firemen, who is not expected to survive. Mr. J.D. Henderson, of this city, the 1st. Engineer, was slightly injured.
The following is a list of survivors:
      Capt. E. Darley, wife and child; Thomas Cragg, 1st. mate; Wm. Styon, 2nd. mate; J.D. Henderson, 1st. Engineer; Jas. C. Howard, 2nd. Engineer; R. Van Slyke, steward; Wm.Ross, wheelsman; J.F. McMullen, wheelsman; Geo. Cooper, watchman; John Doyle, fireman; James Burns, fireman; John Coynt, fireman; Georg Parker, Samson More, Morgan Morris, Alexander Low, Samuel McPherson, and John Anderson, deck hands; Henry Johr and John Andrus, boys; and Henry S. Ridle, A.H.Lydecker, Fredrick Schute, and Joseph Freeman, passengers.
The CHALLENGE was a new boat - being, at the time of the explosion, on her first trip. She was owned by H.N. Strong, of this city, and Capt. Hart.
We are indebted for the above particulars to Mr. Thomas Cragg, the 1st. Mate of the CHALLENGE, who desires us to express to the officers and crews of the NORTH STAR and BUCEPHALUS, the heartfelf thanks of the survivers for the
kindness manifested towards them.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Saturday, June 25, 1853

      . . . . .

The Detroit Free Press learns that the policy on the propeller CHALLENGE did not cover damages by explosion, consequently the boat is a total loss. She was valued at from $30,000 to $35,000.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Monday, June 27, 1853

      THE PROPELLER CHALLENGE. - We stated some days since on authority of the Detroit Free Press, that the insurance companies are not beholden for the loss of the propeller CHALLENGE, because her loss was occasioned by the bursting of her boilers. The Express says this is an erroneous impression. The companies that insured the CHALLENGE did it in good faith, through their agents, Messrs. Durfee & Atwater, of this city; and we are happy to state that the loss will be promptly paid by them on furnishing proper proof. This is as it should be. The companies are abundantly able, and are not disposed to quibble about technicalities, and even if they were, the high-minded character of the agents in this city, is a guarantee that nothing of the kind will be attempted. The Sun Company has already authorized their agents here to pay on their policy.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Wednesday, June 29, 1853

Steam screw CHALLENGE. Of 665 tons gross. Built at Newport, Mich., 1853. First home port, Detroit, Mich. DISPOSITION -- Lost 1853.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      The Lytle - Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: exploded and sunk
Lives: 5
Hull damage: $30,000
Cargo: $11,894
Freight: oats, pork
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.7839 Longitude: -84.72783
William R. McNeil
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Challenge (Propeller), exploded and sunk, 22 Jun 1853