The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Mohawk (Propeller), exploded boiler, 7 Nov 1860


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Propeller MOHAWK, cargo of flour and wheat, exploded boiler on St. Clair Flats, and sunk in shallow water. Five men killed. Raised and towed to Buffalo.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      March 11, 1861. (Casualty List, 1860)

      . . . . .

      THE PROPELLER MOHAWK BLOWN UP AND SUNK. - A telegraph despatch from Detroit to E.P. Dorr, says the propeller MOHAWK, of the Western Transportation Company, bound down, loaded with flour and grain, was blown up by the bursting of her boiler on St. Clair Flats. Four men were killed, but their names are not given nor any further particulars. The MOHAWK was a vessel of 789 tons, built in 1856, and was valued at $33,000. She is insured.
      ALSO
Detroit, Nov. 7 - The Western Transportation Co's propeller MOHAWK, exploded her boiler at 4 o'clock this morning, while crossing St. Clair Flats.
Five persons:- The second engineer, three firemen and one deck hand were instantly killed. The propeller sunk in eleven feet of water. Her upper works are badly shattered, but it is believed she can be raised and brought into port
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Wednesday, November 7, 1860

      . . . . .

      E X P L O S I O N O F T H E M O H A W K.

      FIVE LIVES LOST AND CARGO INJURED.
      --------
      Yesterday morning at 4 o'clock, the starboard boiler of the screw steamer
MOHAWK, Captain Harvey D. Pheatt, exploded, the steamer being then aground on the St. Clair Flats. Four men were killed, viz: Daniel Kirkwood, 2nd., engineer; Martin Leeman, German, a fireman; one other fireman, name unknown, and Proctor Brooks, a colored man, who was passing wood at the time, were killed outright, and one missing. Casper Rolfe, a fireman, was badly scalded and bruised. He was sent by Capt. Pheatt to Algonac, with a man to tend him, and the required medical attendance procured. News came during the day that he could not live, and ere this he has probably expired.
      The particulars of this terrific accident are briefly as follows:
      The MOHAWK, bound down, with 20,217 bushels of wheat shipped at Chicago by Sturgis, Buckingham & Co., and some 1300 bbls. flour shipped by different parties at Milwaukee, reached the Flats at eleven o'clock Tuesday night, and had nearly passed them, whem coming to a vessel at anchor across the channel, she endeavored to pass astern of her, and grounded on the eastern bank. Her effort to get off were continued without other aid, till half past three o'clock in the morning, when the tug EMERALD arrived, lent her assistance. About a half hour afterwards the explosion occurred.
      The explosion was upwards, and her main, second and hurricane decks, aft of the passage way, between the steerafe and forward cabins, with the exception of the extreme after part, were blown up. Those who are named as killed, were on duty at the time, and their bodies are missing.
      The escape of Capt. Pheatt is a matter of wonder. He was standing leaning upon the after steering wheel, sighting by the flag-staff to see whether she moved, when the boiler exploded. The noise seemed to him like that of a sudden clap of thunder, accompanied by the rattling of hail about his ears. He found himself standing by the rail, and in bewilderment as to the cause of the uproar and actually called out to someone to know what was the matter. The splinters flew about and around him, he escaped unhurt. Had he been six feet further forward he must have been killed.
      The second engineer, Mr. Kirkwood, had been on board before the present, and was regarded by the Captain Pheatt as a skillful and careful man. He leaves a wife and two children in Buffalo.
      All the others were also shipped at Buffalo. The one whose name is unknown had not been on board long. The man Rolfe, whose death was imminent at last advices, is spoken of by Captain Pheatt as an excellent man.
      Nearly all those on board were bruised more or less by being struck and knocked about, but none seriously.
      One fireman, who had just been relieved on his watch, was in his room, and was blown into the water, but got on board again. He says that when he last tried the water, some ten minutes before, there was enough. This is all that we can learn in our inquiries as to the cause of the explosion, and, as in most boiler explosions, those cognizant of the causes are killed, we shall probably know nothing more.
Capt. Pheatt says the boiler, or at least so much of it as can be seen, is cut off as if by some sharp instrument, not far from the steam chimney. The latter remains standing. The starboard arch is broken, and several stanchions are knocked out from both.
      Immediately after the explosion, the steamer caught fire from the coals and burning wood in the steerage cabin stove, and would undoubtedly have been burned up but for the prompt and well-directed efforts of the captain. He used an old overcoat to good effect in smothering the flames, and was fortunate in having buckets at hand.
      The MOHAWK lies sunken in ten feet three inches of water forward, and about eleven and a half feet aft. The wheat is, of course, soaked, but the flour, which was on deck, is safe. A portion of the latter was on the quarter, and with that portion of the deck, remains uninjured.
      There in an insurance in several companies, and among them the Home and the Aetna.
      Two steam pumps - Worthington - have been engaged, and will be sent up on the propeller MARY STEWART, which is expected from Buffalo this morning, and Captain Pheatt is confident his steamer can be got here within a day or two. The MARY STEWART will take the flour to Buffalo. - Detroit Adv. Nov. 7.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Friday, November 9, 1860

      . . . . .

      The propeller BALTIC left yesterday afternoon with steam pumps and other apparatus for raising the propeller MOHAWK, sunk on the Flats. She also takes the cargo saved on to Buffalo, its destination.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Saturday, November 10, 1860

      . . . . .

      PROPELLER MOHAWK AFLOAT AGAIN. - The propeller MOHAWK that was sunk
on the Flats by blowing up, was yesterday raised in twenty minutes by Captain Chas. G.
Fortice, and is now at Detroit, as we learn by a despatch from there.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Saturday, November 17, 1860

      . . . . .


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: exploded boiler
Lives: 5
Hull damage: $15,000
Cargo: $21,000
Freight: wheat & flour
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
1860
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.4214
Language of Item:
English
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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Mohawk (Propeller), exploded boiler, 7 Nov 1860