The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Mount Vernon (Propeller), sunk, 9 Oct 1860

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      Detroit, Oct. 9. - The Western Transportation Company's propeller MOUNT VERNON, hence for buffalo with a cargo of 20,000 bushels of corn, 500 barrels of flour, exploded her boiler near Point au Pelee, this morning, instantly killing the second engineer, Theodore Reese, James Conkling, fireman, and slightly injuring others. The vessel sunk immediately, and with her cargo is a total
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Wednesday, October 10, 1860

      . . . . .

      The telegraph despatch last night from Detroit brings the sad intelligence of the loss of the propeller Mt. VERNON, Capt. U.G. Newman, of the Western Transportation Company, plying between this city and Detroit. This forenoon the schooner LOOKOUT came into port, having on board the crew that were taken from the wreck, and we learn from the wheelsman, George Sabine, some particulars of the explosion and wreck. The explosion occurred yesterday morning about one o'clock, and the captain and crew clung to the wreck until seven o'clock in the morning, when they were rescued by the LOOKOUT and steamer OCEAN, the Captain taking the steamer OCEAN for Detroit. At the time of the explosion, Mr. Sabine informs us that he was in the forward hold, engaged in taking up the anchor, preparatory to a start. The second engineer was on duty, and it is supposed that he allowed the water to get too low in the boilers, and then suddenly let on a fresh supply, which caused the accident.
      The explosion is described as having been terrific, and by its force the entire upper cabin and forward works of the propeller was scattered into fragrents. The force of the explosion was from the stern of the vessel forward towards the bow, almost completely gutting her. Her stern immediately settled and she rolled over on her side, almost showing her keel, and finally settled down in about 4 fathoms of water, where she now lies just outside of the dummy light. By clinging to the spars and arches and occasionally getting on to the upper cabin that was floating between the arches, the crew after some six hours, were rescued.
The second engineer, Theodore Reese, who has a wife residing in this city, and John Conkling, fireman, were killed and their bodies not recovered. The crew consisted of 17 persons, and two men working their passage, 19 in all, of whom 17 are saved with some slight injuries, but saved none of their clothing. Her arches are badly broken, and portions of her main deck was rising to the surface of the water. In all probability she will go to pieces. She had on board 19,200 bushels of corn, consigned to P.L. Sternberg, and 400 barrels of flour to the N. Y. Central Railroad. The Mt. VERNON was an old vessel, having been built at Hurom, Ohio, in 1854, and was rated by the Board of Underwriters as B No. 1., valued at $10,000. No insurance on her, as the company insure none of their vessels running on the Lower Lake, only taking risks on those engaged in the Chicago trade.
It is almost a miricle that others of the crew escaped death. The explosion was so destructive, that notwithstanding a large quantity of wood piled on the main deck aft, not a stick of it could be seen floating in the water immediately after the accident was made known. In the violent rolling of the vessel as she settled down, the arches were wrenched and cracked into splinters, only hanging by their iron rods and braces. The propeller and cargo will no doubt prove a total loss, as but very little of the wreck will be saved.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Wednesday, October 10, 1860

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      The Western Transportation Co's Propeller MOUNT VERNON, 20,000 bushels corn and 550 barrels of flour exploded her boilers near Point au Pelee this morning, killing the 2nd. Engineer and a fireman. The vessel sunk immediately and with her cargo will be a total loss.
      Montreal Pilot
      Thursday, October 11, 1860

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      WRECK OF THE MOUNT VERNON. - The Detroit Advertiser says the hull of the exploded propeller MOUNT VERNON lies S 3/4 W. three fourths of a mile from the "Dummy," or main-land, Point au Pelee Light, and is marked by a buoy. This was seen, we are credibly informed by the man at the wheel of the scow OTTOCA, but all the other men being below, for some reason, he did not pay proper heed to it.
      One side of the propeller, we understand, has fallen inwards. The corn that was in her when she went down has washed out. So it was ascertained by a late visit to the wreck.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Monday, October 29, 1960

(The scow OTTOCA struck the wreck of the Mt. VERNON, and sunk, a total loss.)

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Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 2
Hull damage: $19,000
Cargo: $15,000
Freight: corn & flour
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 41.872777 Longitude: -82.582777
William R. McNeil
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Mount Vernon (Propeller), sunk, 9 Oct 1860