The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Cornell (Propeller), U86017, sunk, 21 Dec 1922

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CORNELL Steam Screw. Official U. S. No. 86017. Built 1888, of 65 Gross Tons. December 21, 1922 Vessel foundered on Lake Erie. Total loss with all hands, eight lives.
      Loss of American Vessel Reported
      During 1923, M.V. of U. S. for 1923

      . . . . .

GRACE DANFORTH.* Built 1888 Steam Tug -Wood
U. S. No. 86017 65 gt -32 nt 72' x 17.4' x 10'
* Renamed (b) CORNELL -US -1907
Foundered December 21, 1922, bound from Cleveland, Ohio, for Buffalo, N.Y., Lake Erie; all hands (8) lost.
      Buffalo Dry Dock Co., Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio.
      . . . . .

      Although not strictly wrecking or salvage work in a technical sense, vessels of the Towing Company have participated in search and rescue activities as needed. One such undertaking was in relation to the loss of the tug CORNELL. She had come into the Towing Company fleet at the time of the purchase of the Hand & Johnson subsidiary in 1899. Formerly the GRACE DANFORTH, the CORNELL was a wooden tug built in 1888. After having been out of service for several years, late in 1922 she was sold to the Syracuse Sand Company for service on the New York State Barge Canal system. After some minor repairs, plus inspections by Company personnel, the underwriters and the U.S. Steamboat Inspectors, she was cleared to leave Cleveland. Since the terms of the sale included delivery, she was manned by two Towing Company crews to meet the needs of an overlake trip.
      The tug left Cleveland for Buffalo on Thursday, December 21, 1922, at 2:00 p.m. The weather was clear and cold with little wind. The tug was due to arrive at her destination early Friday afternoon, but she literally vanished! A search was started when the tug became overdue. The Tennessee from Buffalo, and the T.C. Lutz (2) from Cleveland undertook a search of the CORNELL's route, working from both ends toward the middle. Other tugs were removed from winter layup, and after being fired up joined in the search.
The Q.A. GILLMORE left Cleveland for Erie which served as the control point for the search. The Oregon also joined the search fleet. At one point U.S. Army mail planes assisted in the search by moving slightly off their usual routes in order to scan the lake for evidence of the tug.
      Finally, on December 26, the GILLMORE found a lifeboat and the ice encrusted body of one of the firemen floating in midlake, about twenty five miles east of Long Point. Various bits and pieces of floating wreckage were found in the weeks and months that followed. Although a number of possible explanations have been put forth over the years in an effort to explain the loss of the tug, no real answer was ever provided. Thus, the CORNELL became one of that strange armada of vessels that have simply "sailed away", never to be heard from again.
      The Story of the Great Lakes Towing Co.
      p. 166

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Reason: sunk
Lives: 8
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.454166 Longitude: -81.121388
William R. McNeil
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Cornell (Propeller), U86017, sunk, 21 Dec 1922