The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Experiment (Schooner), U7523, aground, 1 Oct 1883

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Saugatuck, Mich., Oct. 26. -- The schooner EXPERIMENT, of St. Joseph, ore-laden, ran hard aground on the bar in endeavoring to make this harbor last evening. There was a big sea running, and she suffered considerable injury. She now lies with her forward deck about a foot under water, and will have to be lightered, and a steam pump will be required to pump the water out of her before she can be got off. The mishap was caused by the captain being unacquainted with the harbor here. - - Inter Ocean.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, October, 1883

The schooner EXPERIMENT, ashore here, hails from Racine, Wis. The boat is owned by D.M. Norton and is insured for $1,200. She is commanded by Captain Reffel, who has used her as a wrecker in the lake Superior region, and was returning home, having on board a cargo of iron ore, which he wanted to sell at St.Joseph. There is no change in her condition up to this time, neither tug nor steam pumps having arrived. Her deck load of ore was thrown overboard, and this afternoon a portion of what is in the hold was brought ashore on a scow. She is no immediate danger, but should the wind shift to the westward she will fare badly and will become a wreck. She was stripped this afternoon, but could not learn whether the captain intends to abandon her or not. Hibbard & Vance's agency hold the policy of insurance on the hull, there being no insurance on the cargo. She measures 50 tons, and is said to be quite old. -- Saugatuck Report.
      Marine Record
      Nov. 1, 1883

      . . . . .

      An Interesting History
The little wrecking schooner EXPERIMENT ashore at Saugatuck, has had a most remarkable career for a small vessel, and many of the older lake captains will remember some of the facts concerning it. She is now nearly 30 years old, but has been rebuilt so recently that she is a very good little craft yet. She was built at St. Joseph, Mich., in I855, by a man who wished to use her in carrying fruit and he and his wife lived aboard the vessel together. In the fall of I856, when their child was just a little over a year old, the EXPERIMENT was sailing for St. Joseph from Milwaukee, where she had a most successful trip, when off St. Joe a white squall struck the EXPERIMENT, and, she having all her canvas exposed was instantly capsized. The Captain and his two assistants were never heard of again, and the EXPERIMENT, a few days later, was cast upon the beach at or near St. Joseph, with her bottom upward, it was believed that all on board had perished. Nevertheless a search was made of the cabin and the first man to get under the vessel was alarmed to hear cries.
The searcher listened to the crying for an instant and then crawled in the direction from which it came. He was terrified while thus groping along to come upon the dead body of the wife of the captain lying on the ceiling of the cabin, but he recovered sufficiently to be alive to the sense of duty, and after a short search found the child of the dead woman safely tucked away on a shelf above the water. But the infant's clothing was wet and the little thing would undoubtedly soon have perished, but for the timely aid, which reached it.
The baby was taken out, and with careful attention was restored to health and has since grown to be a man. The story was that the mother, after battling with the water a long time, and finding the struggle hopeless, placed the baby in as safe a place as possible, and then resigned herself to the inecitable. The EXPERIMENT has since had many ups and downs, and for a number of years past has been owned and conmanded by Capt. Beffel as a wrecking vessel. She has experienced a great deal of trouble while engaged in the wrecking business, and it is thought that the present accident will end her career.
      Marine Record
      November 8, I883

The schooner EXPERIMENT, on the bar at saugatuck, will be saved.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, October, 1883

      Saugatuck, Mich., Oct. 29. -- There is no change in the condition of the schooner EXPERIMENT, ashore here at present writing. The United States tug GRAHAM pulled at her from 4 o'clock this afternoon, making but little progress in getting her off. To make her position more perilous the wind veered to the northwest about 10 o'clock this morning, and is making quite a heavy sea, the waves breaking over the schooner continually. It is feared that unless she is relieved very soon she will not be saved. Still all efforts are used to bring her inside. Your reporter left the scene at 6 o'clock at which time the tug was still pulling at her, using an eight-inch hawser.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, October, 1883
Saugatuck, Mich., Oct. 30. -- Daylight found the schooner EXPERIMENT driven across the channel and effectulally obstructing navigation. The tug GRAHAM gave her another pull, and succeeded in bringing her inside, and she now lies alongside the piers sunk.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, October, 1883

Saugatuck, Mich., Oct. 31. - The schooner EXPERIMENT lies about 300 feet up the river, twelve feet from the dock, sunk and careening on her starboard side. Her bowsprit is broken off close to the jibboom, but she does not appear to be badly damaged. - - Inter Ocean
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, October, 1883

Saugatuck, Mich., Nov. 5. -- The schooner EXPERIMENT was successfully raised by means of scows and jackscrews yesterday, and towed up the river about half a mile.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, October, 1883

Schooner EXPERIMENT. U. S. No. 7523. Of 49.91 tons gross; 47.42 tons net. Built St. Joseph., Mich., 1854. Home port, Racine, Wis. 64.0 x 17.0 x 6.0.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: iron ore
Remarks: Got off
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.65502 Longitude: -86.20198
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Experiment (Schooner), U7523, aground, 1 Oct 1883