The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Cataract (Propeller), burnt, 1 Jun 1861

Full Text

CATARACT Propeller, cargo flour &c., burned off Erie, Lake Erie. Total loss, with four of crew.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Jan. 22, 1862 Casualty List, 1861

      . . . . .

      Propeller CATARACT, cargo of flour, burned off Long Point. Total loss with 4 lives. Property loss $35,000
      Casualty List for 1858 to 1868
      Compiled by Capt. J.H. Hall

      . . . . .

LOSS OF THE PROPELLER CATARACT. -- The propeller CATARACT, Capt. McNally, bound from Cleveland to Dunkirk with a full cargo of rolling freight, was burned off Erie yesterday. Four persons were drowned by the swamping of the small boat. The survivors were taken to Erie by the Tug BROOKS. The propeller was owned by Frank Perew, and was insured.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      June 17, 1861

"i learn that alchol was put on the propeller CATARACT in a leaky condition, and the officers objected to it, but were urged by the owners, [of the alchol,] and promised if it all leaked out, no claim should be made on the propeller for damages, and that is supposed to be the cause of the fire"
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      June 18, 1861

LOSS OF THE CATARACT. -- About 3hree o'clock on Sunday last a vessel was discovered to be on fire on the lake off this point. The alarm soon spread and hundreds poured down the streets to the docks and banks. The tug BROOKS and a number of fishing and pleasure boats immediately pushed out of the bay for the burning vessel, and arrived in time to save sixteen of the crew of twenty people.
      The vessel proved to be the propeller CATARACT , Capt. McNally, owned by Frank Perew, of Buffalo, freighted with flour, tobacco, alcohol, &c. She left Cleveland at 6 o'clock that morning, and when about five miles off the port of Erie, an alarm of fire was sounded aboard of her. The flames burst out amidships, and is supposed to have originated in the fire-hole, though it cannot be determined with certainty. It seems to have broke out with a sort of explosive flame, as if long confined before it made its presence known. The after part of the boat was soon completely enveloped in flames, and the captain's order to lower the boats could only be complied with so far as the lifeboat was concerned which was on the forward deck. It was immediately launched, but as soon as it touched the water, was swamped by a dozen persons jumping into it. It was righted and capsized a second time before the men were safely in it, and then at a loss of four of the party, who went down.
      The fire had broken out so suddenly, that the engineer had been driven from duty, leaving the engine under full motion, and the course of the boat unchanged, except as it rolled at its own discretion, and by the time the life-boat was finally righted, the propeller was a quarter of a mile distant. The captain and several others were yet on board, but they lashed life-boards together, and with them proceeded into the water. Four of the latter party were the first saved. They were picked up by a German named Marcus Conredson and a small boy who were out in a light fish boat, and gallantly went to the rescue -- first hearing the steamer and finding her abandoned they proceeded for objects a mile distant, which proved to be the men. Meanwhile the schooner St. PAUL, Capt. Mosier, which had left port but a short time before, had discovered the disaster and squared away for the propeller. Finding his vessel did not make sufficient headway, he lowered a small boat and picked up Capt. McNally and the carpenter. By this time the tug had arrived and took up the life-boat's crew, so that all the survivors were now safe.
      Meanwhile the propeller's engines had stopped. The tug made fast to her and towed her under the east end of the Peninsula, where she was scuttled in twelve feet of water. She continued to burn until consumed to the water's edge and proved a total loss.
      Capt. McNally remained here several days and secured such portions of her cargo as came ashore or could be got out of her in fair condition, consisting of several hundred barrels of high wines, flour, &c.
      The names of the lost are John Harrigan, watchman; Hugh Kilpatrick, wheelsman; John Posey and Charles Gowans, deck hands.
      The clerk was picked up in the life-boat and succeeded in saving the books and papers of the propeller by securing them to a air inflated vest.
      It is worthy of note, that Capt. McNally and the carpenter were picked up by Capt. Mosier once before, at the time when the propeller INDIANA was lost off Lake Superior.
      The most intense anxiety prevailed on shore among the hundreds of people who were watching the progress of events some miles distant. For some time the real condition of affairs could not be determined, and as the smoke-stack of the propeller went over board and an explosion of alcohol sent a column of steam, smoke and flames high in the air, many hearts beat with anxious solitude for the welfare of those who were supposed to be on board. And when the survivors were brought safely on shore they were heartily congratulated, and their wants immediately relieved.
      Erie City Dispatch
      June 22, 1861


Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: burnt
Lives: 4
Hull damage: $15,000
Cargo: $35,000
Freight: flour &c.
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Pennsylvania, United States
    Latitude: 42.12922 Longitude: -80.08506
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Cataract (Propeller), burnt, 1 Jun 1861