The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Potomac (Propeller), U19618, aground, 1 Aug 1883

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      The Owner Abandons Hull and Cargo as Total Losses -- The LEVIATHAN Dispatched.
      The underwriters were startled not a little yesterday by having dispatches placed in their hands announcing that the propeller POTOMAC, is ashore and full of water near Ahnapee, Wis., on this shore of Lake Michigan, towards the foot of the lake. The master and owner, Peter Wex, in his dispatch says the POTOMAC struck some obstruction off Ahnapee, and he had to run her on the beach to prevent her going down in deep water. She is full of water -- is sunk decks to -- and her cargo, 38,000 bushels of rye, is all wet.
The POTOMAC measures 1,108 tons. She was built by Moses, at Cleveland, in 1855, and is consequently about 28 years old. She was rebuilt in 1868. A note in the Inland Lloyd's Register for this season says: "Not to be classed until engine room is protected from water." She was not classed in the Lloyds until a week or ten days ago, when Captain Mcleod gave her rating at Buffalo. When ashore on the Manitou, corn loaded, on her last passage down the lakes from Chicago. It is understood that she had no rating in the Lloyds.
The hull is insured in Crosby & Dimick's agency at Buffalo for $20,000. The cargo, 38,000 bushels of fine rye, was shipped by kershaw & Co., of Chicago, to the order of the same firm at Buffalo, and is insured in the Chicago Cargo Pool.
This is the first big loss the Pool has sustained this season. The insurance rate to Buffalo is only 10 cents, and this loss will be heavily felt on the small margin of profits for the entire season thus far.
Peter Wex, the owner, has abandoned the steamer to the underwriters, and the latter have ordered the wrecking tug LEVIATHAN to go to her from Milwaukee. Some of the cargo will doubtless be pumped overboard, but as much as possible will be saved so as to help the general average on the hull -- so as to secure a larger contribution. Even wet, this rye can be sold for distilling purposes at some price.
      But, if Mr. Wex's dispatches are correct, vessel and cargo are total losses -- the hull is so badly damaged that she cannot be recovered at all.
      Special Telegram to the Inter Ocean.
      Milwaukee, Wis., Aug. 14. -- The wrecking tug LEVIATHAN left here this morning to attempt the release of the propeller POTOMAC, on the beach at Ahnapee. Yesterday afternoon the POTOMAC struck a rock two miles north of Ahnapee and knocked a large hole in her bottom, and her master beached her. She is valued at $4,000 and insured for $3,500, in Crosby & Dimmick's agency, at Buffalo. Her owner Peter Wex, has abandoned her to the underwriters, and it is probable that she will prove a total loss together with her cargo of 38,000 bushels of rye. Her cargo is valued at $2,600, and insured in agencies not in the pool at Chicago. She has twelve feet of water in her hold, so that her cargo is already damaged.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, Aug./Dec., 1883

Ahnapee, Wis., Aug. 14. -- The propeller POTOMAC, with a barge in tow, struck a rock about two miles north of this place at 2 o'clock this afternoon, and filled with water so rapidly that the captain found it impossible to keep her afloat long enough to reach this harbor, and was obliged to head her for the beach. The barge she had in tow sailed for the south this evening. The POTOMAC had on a cargo of 38,000 bushels of rye consigned to Buffalo. The captain thinks the propeller and cargo will prove total losses, and has advised the owners to abandon her to the underwriters. She lies on a sand bottom in twelve feet of water. An attempt to lighten her of part of her cargo will be made tomorrow.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, August / September 1883

Three steam pumps were placed on the steambarge POTOMAC, on the beach at Ahnapee Falls, to lower the water in the hold, and her cargo will be removed. Only 2,000 bushels of her cargo of 38,000 bushels were saved dry. Her timbers are sprung, and it is doubtful if she can be released.
      The Leader says "the Propeller POTOMAC, of Cleveland, valued at $45,000, insured for $35,000, and loaded with rye worth $26,000, in on the beach near Ahnapee, Wis., with 12 feet of water in her hold, having stove her bottom on a rock. She has been abandoned to the Underwriters. The Wrecking Tug, LEVIATHAN has gone to her relief." -- Milwaukee Report
      Marine Record
      Aug. 16, 1883

Capt. Kirkland, wrecking master at Ahnapee, telegraphed to Milwaukee that he had the wrecked propeller POTOMAC in the harbor making temporary repairs before leaving for that port, where she will be overhauled.
      Marine Record
      Aug. 30, 1883

Today the survey on the hull of the wrecked propeller POTOMAC was completed. She will require an entire new keel, new garboard strakes, considerable new bottom planking, ten new frames and entire new decks, in all the cost to be $6,000.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, August, 1883
Steam screw POTOMAC. U. S. No. 19618. Of 1108.35 tons gross; 858.53 tons net. Built Cleveland, O., 1855. Home port, Buffalo, N.Y.. 210.5 x 33.7 x 12.6.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: rye
Remarks: Got Off
Date of Original:
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Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 44.60833 Longitude: -87.43314
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Potomac (Propeller), U19618, aground, 1 Aug 1883