The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Silver Spray (Propeller), U116262, aground, 15 Mar 1911

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SILVER SPRAY Steam screw of 40 gross tons, built 1889. Official U. S. Number 116262, with eight persons on board, propeller stranded at Cleveland, Ohio, March 15, 1911, with the loss of all eight lives. vessel a total loss.
      Loss of U. S. Vessels on the Great
      Lakes, Merchant Vessel List, 1911

      . . . . .
Vessel Which Formerly Plied the Niagara River as Pleasure Craft Goes Down Off Cleveland With Her Crew.
      - - - - - - - - - - - -
      Cleveland, O., March 16. --One fishing tug, with a crew of seven, is lost as a result of the gale that swept over the lakes yesterday and is still raging on Lake Erie today.
The SILVER SPRAY of Erie, Pa., operated by the Booth Fisheries Company, went down off Cleveland Harbor last night after battling with the heavy seas for 124 hours. The last seen of her was at 2 A. M. today when Capt. Hansen of the Life Saving Station sighted a vessel a few miles out burning torches as signals of distress.
      This morning the tug BUCKEYE, Capt., Cornelius, patrolling the breakwater, sighted what is believed to be the pilot house of the SILVER SPRAY afloat in the lake off East Fortieth street. Two bodies, which Capt. Cornelius believes belong to members of the SILVER SPRAY's crew of seven, were lying on the breakwater.
It was impossible for the tug to get near enough to take off the bodies.
      The following constituted the crew of the SILVER SPRAY:
      James Purdy, Captain, Erie, Pa.
      Robert Watts, engineer, Erie, Pa.
      Edward Holmes, Cleveland.
      Charles Brasso, Cleveland.
      Henry Anderson, Cleveland.
      Thomas Reed, Erie, Pa.
      Unknown Boy, Cleveland.
      Later the BUCKEYE saw pieces of wreckage washing against the breakwater.
      Early today, according to dispatches received here, the MONARCH and the GENERAL B., put into Ashtabula harbor. The SWAIN is at Conneaut, arriving there late this afternoon.
      The SILVER SPRAY has been in commission five years and was regarded as the most durable boat in the fleet of fishing tugs. The owners say that she often weathered worse gales than the one she encountered last night.
Thrilling stories of a long battle to make the harbor were told by the eight members of the crew of the EFFIE B., another member of the fishing fleet, which put into the harbor at 4 A. M. today. The men were almost frozen and arrived half dead from their experience.
All of the tugs, 26 in number, counting 22 that left Cleveland harbor and four that left Erie, have been accounted for except the SILVER SPRAY.
      When the fleet returned last night from the first day's fishing of the season, Capt. W. A. Ryan of the F. E. B. reported that one of his fishermen, Charles Cripps, 35 year old, of Cleveland, had been swept overboard and drowned.
At Huron, O., two fishing launches, the KATIE B. and the HAZEL, were caught in the gale and drifted about all day. The HAZEL was towed to port safely, but the KATIE G was abandoned after the two men on her had been saved.
      Well Known in Buffalo.
The fishing tug SILVER SPRAY was at one time a familiar sight on the Niagara River. Owned by the late Ossian Bedell, the little steamer plied the Niagara River between the excursion docks at the foot of Ferry Street and the Beddell House at the head of Grand island.
      Later when the business of the river resort outgrew the capacity of the steamer, the craft was sold to a fishing company. On one of its first trips, it was chased by a Canadian patrol boat. The Canadian officers believing the crew of the SILVER SPRAY to be fish pirates. The SILVER SPRAY outdistanced the patrol, and carried her crew of fishermen safely into American waters. The craft has been running for several years.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Thursday, March 16, 1911

Cleveland, June 5. - The fishing tug SILVER SPRAY, which went down with all hands in the big gale of March 15, was yesterday docked at the Great Lakes Towing Company's dock in this city.
      The trip up the river with the ill-fated boat was like a funeral procession. Fishermen, lake sailors and dock hands lined the river bank along the whole course of the boat's passage and as the craft, covered with dirt and weeds, came in sight, all bared their heads until the boat was out of sight.
      No more dead were found in the boat when it was raised. Over $100 worth of canvas was used to cover the holes so that the tug could be made to float. Pumps were kept going on it from the time it came above the surface of the water, but even with their aid and the large stretch of canvas, the water could not be kept out.
      The boat may be repaired and put back in commission as a fishing tug.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Monday, June 5, 1911

The fish tug SILVER SPRAY, out of Cleveland, fished out of Dunkirk many times. Sometime about the turn of the century it piled up on the breakwall at Cleveland in a terrific snowstorm, and the entire crew of six frozen to death. Later the tug was repaired by the Fix Brothers of Buffalo, named CHARLOTTE and fished out of Dunkirk again with Al Donnelly as captain. - L.V.
      Reminiscence of Dunkirk

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Reason: aground
Lives: 8
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.4995 Longitude: -81.69541
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Silver Spray (Propeller), U116262, aground, 15 Mar 1911