The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Vulcan (Propeller), U25760, exploded boiler, 7 Jun 1883

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The tug VULCAN, owned by R.A. Alger & Co. of Detroit, burned in Lake Erie off vermillion about 2 o'clock Thursday Morning.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, June 8, 1883

      The raft which was being towed by the Tug VULCAN, which blew up near this city (Cleveland), was towed in by the Tug CHARLES KELLOGG and tied to the breakwater. The VULCAN was run in at Vermillion and is a very bad wreck. Cleveland report.
      Marine record
      June 16, 1883

VULCAN Propeller of 249 Tons, and 15 years old. became a total loss on Lake Erie in 1883. Value $25,000.
      Lost Tonnage on the Lakes--1883
      Marine Record, December 27, 1883

The Tug VULCAN, wrecked at Milwaukee (?), has been bought by Toledo parties for $1,500. She will be raised and her machinery taken out. Toledo Report.
      Marine Record
      Aug. 9, 1883

The hull of the Tug VULCAN, which burned off Vermillion, and which was towed to that port and sank off the dock, will be raised this week. Sandusky Report.
      Marine Record
      Aug. 23, 1883

John Quinn, the well known submarine diver,has just returned here from Vermillion, where he has been engaged in raising the tug VULCAN, burned last summer. Her machinery was found in good order and fit for further service, and was recently purchased by Daly & Birkhead, of Toledo, who will remove it to that port. Detroit Report
      Marine Record
      Oct. 11, 1883

Detriot, Oct. 9 - James Quinn, submarine diver, has just returned from Vermillion where he has been engaged in raising the unburned portion of the tug VULCAN's hull. The work of raising it was in charge of George Daily of Toledo. The hull was found to be useless, but the boiler and engine are in good condition and will probably do service again in a steambarge.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      October 11, 1883 1-7

Many people of Vermilion remember an old wreck which lay in the Vermilion river 40 or 50 years, until it was finally removed when L. A. Wells cut out the lagoons in the old swamp land. Most of the men over 40 years of age will remember the old wreck, but none of them seem to know how it got there.
At the time the Wakefield Museum opened George Wakefield gave us an old photograph, given to him by Mrs. Flora Hollister. It was a picture of a burning boat in the Vermilion river. Two tugs were throwing water on the fire and many people were watching from the west shore.
It was an intriguing picture, studying it at this late date. There must have been a front page story in the Vermilion paper, but alas, those old papers back in the 1880's have disappeared. George Wakefield had consulted "Pop" Nicholas, who was the oldest man in town. He could not remember the name of the burning tug he thought one of the tugs, pumping water on the fire, was the tug Myrtleùhe was right as far as he could go. There the mystery hung.
Captain Frank E. Hamilton of Kelley's Island and former captain of the passenger steamer Put-in-Bay, became interested in this old picture and he determined to trace the story behind it. All tugs lost on Lake Erie from 1880 to 1889 were traced. Finally the captain learned that the tug VULCAN was burned in Lake Erie some time in 1883. Now, he said, "We must check all the newspapers in the lake towns and see what we can find."
The Cleveland Leader of June 8, 1883, contained the following story:
"8 A. M. yesterday morning the Massillon Fuel Co., received the following dispatch from Vermilion, Ohio:" Vermilion, O. 7 oÆclock. Massillon Fuel Co. Has MANISTIQUE left yet. If so can you send me a good tug to take VULCAN's raft. VULCAN burned up at 2 o'clock this morning. Answer quick. Signed W. H. Rolls (Captain.) In response to the above, the tug Charles Kellog was secured and sent at once to Vermilion. Yesterday afternoon the following correspondence was received at this office (Cleveland Leader) giving further details.
      "Vermilion, June 7, 1883." The tug VULCAN with a raft of logs in tow, burned this morning at two o'clock about fifteen miles off this port and a little to the westward. The crew arrived safe and sound in small boats. It consisted of fourteen men. They say the fire originated around the smoke stack.
Later. The tugs Myrtle and Cal Davis, of Sandusky, have just brought the burning tug into this port, about 9 A. M., and together with the fire department are playing water upon the flames. She is burned down nearly to the water's edge. It is reported that she is fully insured. Signed, L. O. Stone. "The tug was owned by Alger Smith and Co., of Detroit. Valued at $20,000."
      And from the Cleveland Leader, June 9, 1883. "About six o'clock last evening the tug Charles Kellog came into port bringing with her Mr. John S. Paganette, wheelsman of the tug VULCAN, burned off Vermilion early Thursday morning. From him were learned further particulars in regard to the burning, which it seems was the most complete destruction in every way the hull itself being so far destroyed that apparently nothing of value is left, and the crew losing nearly all their clothes and effects, not even saving a full suit. With his clothes, Captain W. H. Rolls, her master, also lost his valuable gold watch. Mr. Paganette says they might have escaped in better shape had they not been determined to do everything they could to save the vessel. The flames bursting out around the smoke stack spread with great rapidity, and the water thrown on her by pumps did not seem to have any effect toward putting out the fire. Besides the general loss of the boat there was the destruction of two full size tow line hawsers, five hundred feet of four-inch line, five hundred feet of two-inch line, which were all new, and about eighty tons of coal.
"The yawl boat is also badly injured by the fire. This was caused by the effort of the crew to save the vessel, and who did not attempt to lower the boat until it was badly burned in fact they did start to do this until one of the davits was burned completely off, and it was with difficulty on account of the heat, that the other was reached and the boat lowered. It is also almost a miracle that the crew escaped. The wife of the cook on board her, also was in the cabin, was penned in by the flames, and only escaped by a small hatch at the stern." The tug VULCAN was built at Detroit, 1868, by Campbell and Owen for Alger Smith and Company, a sister ship of the famous tug Champion. The VULCAN towed large log rafts and the Champion towed groups of six or eight schooners, up and down the Detroit River. They were large heavy tugs, 263 gr. tons, 134' 6" long, 21' 4" beam and 10' 7" depth, VULCAN's Register No. was 25760.
We thank Captain Hamilton for ferreting out this mystery; his research covered almost a year's work.
      Inland Seas
      Spring 1955 pages 66 & 67

VULCAN Built July 16, 1868 Steam Tug - Wood
U.S. No. 25760 249 gt - 140.0 x 22.0 x 13
Burned off Huron, Ohio, Lake Erie, June 7, 1883; hull towed to Vermilion, Ohio, and dismantled.
      Detroit/Wyandotte Master Shipbuilding List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio

Steam screw VULCAN. U. S. No. 25760. Of 249.43 tons. Of 500 horse-power. Home port, Detroit, Mich.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S, 1871

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Reason: exploded boiler
Hull damage: $25,000
Remarks: ?
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.4995 Longitude: -81.69541
William R. McNeil
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Vulcan (Propeller), U25760, exploded boiler, 7 Jun 1883