The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Empire State (Steamboat), aground, 9 Aug 1849


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Steamer EMPIRE STATE, bound down from Chicago, sprung a leak on Lake Michigan in a gale on the 8th. July 1849, ran ashore about 3 miles south of Sleeping Bear, full of water.
      Casualty List for 1849
      Erik Hyle's private papers

      . . . . .

      MARINE DISASTERS AND LOSSES ON THE LAKES
      DURING THE SEASON OF 1849
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Steamer EMPIRE STATE, sprung a leak on Lake Michigan; grounded; subsequently got off and repaired..................................$4,000
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Thursday, January 3, 1850 (extracted from list)

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      LOSS OF STEAMER EMPIRE STATE
      By Telegraph From Chicago
We are indebted to Speed's Erie and Michigan Telegraph line for the following despatch from Chicago announcing the loss of the magnificent steamer the EMPIRE STATE.
      Chicago, Aug. 13, 9:30 o'clock A.M.
To the Buffalo Republic:
Mr. Wilson, of the Chicago Journal, who was passenger on the EMPIRE STATE, gives the following particulars of her loss on Lake Michigan. She left Chicago at the usual time and shortly after leaving Sheboygan, she encountered a north wester and at 3:30 o'clock in the morning, sprang a leak when about thirty mile from the Michigan shore and forty from South Manitou. The latter was endeavored to be reached, but she made water so fast that it was determined to beach her. She was put before the wind and barely reached the shore before sinking. She lies in nine feet water and full of water, and it is feared she can not be got off as she is badly broken. She is ten miles above Sleeping Bear.
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      FULL PARTICULARS--BY O'REILLY'S LINE
      The EMPIRE STATE left Chicago at her usual time, touching at Milwaukee and Sheboygan. She had on board 100 passengers. On Wednesday night the wind commenced blowing from the N.W.,and before midnight increased to a gale---the waves beat with great fury agains her larboard quarter, and about 4:30 o'clock she was discovered to have sprung a leak. The pumps were set at work, but the water gradually gained until the larboard fire was put out and the firemen stood to their knees in water. At this time when twenty-five miles from land it was determined to abandon the attempt to reach Manitou Islands and she was headed for the shore as the only alternative to prevent her sinking. Both fires were so nearly extinguished that the engine made but six revolutions per minute. When a quarter of a mile distant from land the engine stopped, the jib was raised and at about twelve o'clock she struck the shore---about three miles below the Sleeping Bear---and nearly filled with water.
      After remaining about twenty four hours on the wreck the passengers were taken off by the propeller DELAWARE and reached this city this morning. The EMPIRE STATE lies in nine feet of water. Her guards are badly broken and her upper works materially damaged. The bolts which secure her arches to her hull and the hull much twisted.
Her mate is of the opinion that she cannot be got off. Capt. Hazard and her officers displayed great presence of mind, and to their unremitting exertions, the passengers owe their safety---particularly to Nelson Whaley, the engineer, and Woodbury the mate. ---- Detroit Advertiser
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      August 13, 1849

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      LOSS OF THE EMPIRE STATE.
The EMPIRE STATE left Chicago at the usual time, and after touching at Milwaukee and Sheboygan, had on board 100 passengers. On Wednesday night the wind commenced blowing from the north west and before midnight, it had increased to a gale. The waves beat with great fury upon the steamers larboard quarter, and at 4½ o'clock, she was discovered to have sprung a leak. Her pumps were set to work, but the water gradually gained until the larboard fire was put out and the firemen stood to their knees in water at this time.
      When 25 miles from land, it was determined to abandon the attempt to reach the Manitou Islands, and she was headed for the beach, as the only alternative to prevent her sinking. Notwithstanding the utmost exertions of passengers and crew, together with the bilge pump, which dispatched 800 gallons per minute. The water continued to gain, until one after another of the fires were extinguished, and the engine was enabled to make but six revolutions, barely enough to pass the center. She was rapidly nearing the land, however, and when a quarter of a mile distant, all but one of the fires being submerged, the engine was stopped on its center. The jib was still raised, and about 12 o'clock and 30 minutes she struck the Michigan shore about 3 miles below the Sleeping Bear nearly filled with water. After remaining 24 hours on the wreck, the passengers were taken off by the propeller DELAWARE - Capt. Fuller, and brought to this city this morning.
      The EMPIRE STATE lies in about 9 feet water, her guards are badly broken and her upper works materially damaged. The bolts which secure her arches to her hull, are drawn up and project above some six or eight inches - that her hull is also wrenched and twisted.
The mate expresses that she cannot be gotten off.
Capt. Hazard and officers displayed great skill and presence of mind; and to their unremitting exertions, the passengers are indebted for their safety, particularly to Wheley, the engineer - and Mr. Woolbury, the mate, for their exertions in the line of their duties, praise is awarded by all who were on board..
      The Daily True Democrat
      Monday, August 13, 1849

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The propeller St. JOSEPH arrived this morning, having on board the furniture of the EMPIRE STATE, and a few of the passengers. It is said that Capt. Hazard entertains hopes of getting the steamer off, and has gone to Chicago to obtain pumps and assistance. The officers of the St. JOSEPH express the opinion that she cannot be got afloat again. The cargo of the EMPIRE STATE consisted principally of 300 barrels flour, 10 tons copper, 10 tons shot and 50 casks ashes, taken in at Milwaukee.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      August 17, 1849

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The cargo of the EMPIRE STATE was removed with a loss not exceeding $100, and all the baggage of the passengers was saved. Capt. Hazard, at last accounts, was forming a company of men in Milwaukee, to proceed with him to the wreck, for the purpose of raising it, if possible, and take her into some port.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      August 20, 1849

      . . . . .
     
      LOSS OF THE EMPIRE STATE.
      [From the Detroit Daily Commercial Bulletin]
      We are under obligdtons to Mr. Wilson, of the Chicago Journal, and to other passengers who were on board of the EMPIRE STATE, for the following particulars of the loss of that steamer, on Lake Michigan, on Thursday last. The EMPIRE STATE left Chicago on Tuesday, and after touching at Milwaukee and Shebovgan, at which places she received accessions to her number of passengers, she proceeded on her voyage. On Wednesday night a terrific gale sprung up which lashed the waters into fury, which beat with great force upon
the starboard quarter of the steamer. In the midst of the howling of the winds, and the raging water rolling mountains high, it was discovered that the magnificent boat had sprung a leak. She was then twenty-five miles from land. The pumps were set in motion, and although her bilge pump threw out 1800 gallons of water per minute, the water gained upon the exertions made to bail her.
      The captain first intended to reach the Manitoo Islands, but the water poured in so much faster than it coold be pumped out, that he headed her directly for shore, as the only chance to save the lives of the terror-stricken passengers. The water in her hold gained so fast, that in a short time two of her fires were extinguished, but fortunetely, the steamer listed, leaving one furnace out of water, by which steam enough was raised to propel the boat, with the aid of her jib, slowly towards shore. When about a quarter of a mile from the sbore, the power of the steam was not enough to turn the wheels, and the engine stopped on its centre. The steamer, sailing with her jib, was fortunately driven ashore before she filled and sunk. After she struck, her passengers remained on board twenty-four hours, when they were humanely rescued by the propeller DELAWARE.
Capt. Tuttle, and brought to this city this morning.
      When the storm raged with the greatest violence the scenes in the cabin and state rooms are represented to have been truly heart rending, many of the passengers were unable from seasickness to leave their berths and the wailing of those able to be around the cabin, mingled with the roaring of the waters and winds and the working ol the timbers of the boat is said to have been a scene that would have affected the stoutest heart.
The doors and partitions of the state rooms near the centre of the boat, as each wave would strike were torn to splinters, and persons remaining in their berths near this part of tbe boat were often in the most critical situation. The floor of the upper saloon would rise and fall conforming to the size of the waves, as a gentleman who watched it remarked, "like a piece of canvass disturbed by the wind." Every moment they expected would be the last, and that the immense hull would break near the centre and all find a watery grave. For many miles by the force of the wind and water, the noble craft would careen so that the water would nearly reach the hatches. The firemen worked until they were driven from the hold by the water and the fires nearly extinguished.
      When she first struck the shore, the crash of timbers and shock was very severe, throwing the furniture and loose materials about the cabins and decks in the utmost confusion and causing the wildest consternation among the persons on board. Nearly every moveable article in the cabins, kitchen, pantrys, &c., was scattered in every direction. After she first struck, the three succeeding waves drove her higher up on shore, which at this point fortunately is sand and gravel, until she lay comparatively stationary, gradually working into the sand, becoming thoroughly imbedded.
      The EMPIRE STATE was the largest steamer on the Lakes. Her hull was built on the St. Clair River, by Capt. Walker, during the winter of '47, and sold to the present owners, Messrs. Monteath, Hazard & Co., who took it to Buffalo, where the joiner work and furnishing was done last summer, and her first trip made in October last year. Her dimensions were: 310 feet deck: 37 feet beam; 60 feet extreme breadth; 15 feet hold; 1,700 tons burden. Her engine was the most powerful of any on the Lakes, of 76 ¼ in. cylinder; 12 feet stroke; 1,600 horse power. She has been regularly employed in the Upper Lake trade, but we understand, was to have entered into the Central Railroad Line on her next trip up. She was valued at $180 000, and is, we learn, insured for part of this amount, but how much we were unable to ascertain from any source.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Tuesday, August 21, 1849

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      THE EMPIRE STATE. - We were very agreeably surprised, to find this magnificent steamer in our harbor this morning. The Telegraphic despatches published last week in relation to the injury she sustained in her recent disaster, are wholly without foundation. Some six weeks since she ran on a rock, near Milwaukee, which rent a few planks near the bow. The injury was subsequently repaired, but the severe gale which she encountered on Lake Michigan, in coming down, caused her to spring a leak in the precise place where she had formerly struck. We paid a visit to the boat, this morning, and found her cabin in just as good condition as when she left here on her last trip to Chicago. The hull has sustained no injury, and the fact that she worked her own way from the North Manitou Islands, is convincing proof of this assertion. In twelve hours after, Captain Hazard boarded her with his company from Milwaukee, the EMPIRE STATE was afloat and on her way to this city. The nature of her injuries are so slight inded, that in a very short time she will be able to take her place in the line again.
      Captain Hazard has displayed an energy on this occasion, which entitles him to the highest credit. His conduct throughout has marked him as one of the most experienced commanders on the lakes. We congratulate him, and her owners, on the favorable result of this supposed destructive disaster.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      August 21, 1849

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      The EMPIRE STATE. -- The public will be gratified to learn that the injury sustained by this mammoth steamer is comparatively unimportant. She is now on the dry dock, and we are informed by her owners that the entire expense of putting her again in perfect order together with the expense of getting her back to Buffalo including all damages done by the gale, will not exceed twenty five hundred dollars. She will be ready to resume her trips on Wednesday next, August 29th, her regular day for Chicago.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Wednesday, August 22, 1849
     
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Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $4,000
Remarks: Got off
Date of Original:
1849
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.9262
Language of Item:
English
Geographic Coverage:
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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Empire State (Steamboat), aground, 9 Aug 1849