Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Forest Queen (Steamboat), collision, 27 Aug 1857
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Steamer FOREST QUEEN, collided with schooner SON & HEIR on Detroit River. Property loss $800.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      January 28, 1858 (1857 Casualty List)

      . . . . .

      Night before last, while the steamer FOREST QUEEN was out on a pleasure excursion, she collided with a vessel in tow of a tug near Belle Isle. The vessel struck the steamer on the starboard bow tearing away the side, smashing her bulwarks, railing, &c, to the extent of about $500. The vessel's head gear was carried away. - Detroit Advertiser
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      August 29, 1857 2-6

      . . . . .

      The Accident To The Excursion Steamer, -- The lateness of the hour at which the collision between the FOREST QUEEN and the schooner occurred on Wednesday night, prevented a full account of that accident, but having been on board at the time, we can give the particulars as they came under our notice. The name of the schooner, which we were unable to ascertain in the great confusion following the collision, was the SON AND HEIR, of Toronto, Owned by Messrs.. Goodingham and Worst, of that place.
The FOREST QUEEN left the foot of Woodward Avenue at [?] in the evening, with some three hundred excursionists on board, and ran up the river, and down to Sandwich, where she lay at the dock until between twelve and one o'clock when she cast off, and ran up the river again to the upper end of Belle Island. She then turned around and ran back for the city. When she approached the lower end of Belle Island, we noticed from our position on the stern a steam tug passing on the Canada side. The captain of the tug was on the deck of his cabin shouting at the top of his lungs to the other boats, but his words were unintelligible. Immediately afterwards our attention was attracted by a sudden crashing at the bow of the FOREST QUEEN accompanied by a visible cessation of speed, which continued for about a minute, when the boat came to a dead stand. The uproar and confusion among the dense crowd that filled the forward cabin of the boat, where the dancing was going on, was intense, and, leaving our seat on the stern, we walked forward through the cabin and entered upon about as strong a representation of Pandemonium as we ever expect to witness. The dancing party had been interrupted in the midst of their hilarity by the sudden entrance through the side of the cabin of the vessel's jib boom, at a distance of some twenty feet aft of the forward end. As the boats closed up together, the whole side of the cabin was torn from its place, as far aft as the engine, together with part of the roof. This left the whole party exposed to the open air on that side. The side of the boat between the lower and upper decks was also torn off to nearly the same [?????] A large number of the ladies fainted and those who were not thus employed were busy screaming with all their might. There must have been at least a hundred and fifty persons in the forward cabin at the time of the entrance of the vessel's jib-boom, and the effect of the interruption may be much better imagined that described. No one was seriously injured.
The caused assigned by the officers of the boat, for the accident is that the vessel carried no light, and consequently was invisible in the darkness. The steamer, supposing that the tug was alone, passed her, and immediately turned into the channel, thus crossing between the tug and her tow. The consequence was that the vessel struck the steamer on the starboard bow, carrying away her jib-boom, bow-sprit and fore-topmast, and leaving her anchor on board the FOREST QUEEN, when they swung clear. The captain of the SON AND HEIR asserts that he had a light displayed in the larboard rigging, at the time of the collision, which fact is in turn contradicted by those who stood on the bow of the steamer, and were unable to see any. There was a lamp hanging in the rigging of the vessel after the collision, but it had no light in it, and the probability is, that it had either gone out just before the accident, or was hidden from sight by the rigging. It seems almost impossible that the pilot of a steamboat should turn his helm and run directly into a vessel that had a light visible on any part of it. The mate and sailors of the vessel, however, are positive that their light was burning, while the steamboat men are equally positive the other way. The matter will undoubtedly end in a law suit. The tug was the HAMILTON MORTON.
      Although no one was seriously injured, yet the escape must be considered as almost miraculous. The cabin was crowded to its utmost capacity, and the very seats that were occupied by some fifty or sixty persons were torn from their places and broke into pieces by the shock. One lady received some scratched from splinters, and a good many fainted, beyond which no harm was done.
      Detroit Free Press
      August 28, 1857

Media Type
Item Type
Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $500
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original
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Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.34004 Longitude: -82.98047
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Forest Queen (Steamboat), collision, 27 Aug 1857