Steamer Mills Went Ashore on Ford Shoal
Heavy Smoke Screen on the Lake Responsible for the Accident - Steamer in Command of Captain Lanagan, was Bound Light from Montreal to Sodus
The steamer David W. Mills, Captain Matt Lanagan of this city, went ashore on the Ford Shoals reef this morning at 4:45 o'clock in a dense bank of smoke, that settled over the lake yesterday and which is said to be due to the forest fires in Northwest Ontario.
The Mills was engaged in trade between Sodus Point and Montreal, carrying soft coal. She was bound light from Montreal and came up the river last evening. There was a heavy smoke screen on the lake, caused by forest fires in Canada. After running to pick up either the Oswego or Fair Haven light, and thus lay her course for Sodus, the steamer got a little too close to Ford Shoal and while going at full speed made the hurdle, landing in deep water on the shore side, with a twisted shaft and a broken propeller. The boat can be released just as quickly as a boat can be secured to go to her.
The Mills is about half a mile from the shore, opposite the farm residence of George H. Evans. After the boat struck Captain Lanagan put ashore in the small boat and notified the Coast Guard station by telephone and Captain Everett Clemens and the crew went to the scene of the accident in a power boat.
The accident was one of those unavoidable ones that was caused by an abnormal condition on the lake. Captain Lanagan knew the course perfectly and with any kind of clear weather would not have gotten upon the shoal, but the smoke hid every landmark and made it impossible to locate his position in the lake. He knew that he was close to the south shore, and that he was following the compass course that would take him into Sodus Harbor, but a compass course does not always follow.
Besides the wind was from the west and the Mills being light it was natural that she would fall off a little from the course laid down for the run. There is about twenty feet of water on the inside of the shoal, where the Mills lies and there is a possibility of her being taken off, unless the wind should come down the lake, in which event she would probably break up on the shore.
The Mills is an old wooden steamer, 202 feet long on the keel and was built in 1874. She has a tonnage of 1,200 feet, is 34 feet beam and draws 13 1-2 feet of water aft, and about four feet forward. There is about five feet of water over the shoal, and going checked down the boat would easily slide her entire length over the rock. In that way her wheel became broken and her shaft twisted so that it was impossible to use the engine. But for that, she might be worked out of her present position under her own power.