The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Manistee (Propeller), U90311, sunk, 20 Nov 1883

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The propeller MANISTEE, for Ontonagon, left Duluth on the 10th. inst, and was wind bound at Bayfield till Thursday. She transferred her passengers to the CITY OF DULUTH, bound for Houghton, and cleared for Ontonagon at midnight. Tuesday night the Tug MAYTHEM picked up a bucket marked "MANISTEE" and part of the pilot house, forty five miles northeast of Ontonagon. It is supposed that she foundered in the storm of Friday. Tugs are looking for traces of the wreck or the crew, in all, about 25 souls on board. - Duluth Report.
      Marine Record
      Nov. 22, 1883

It is now believed that the propeller MANISTEE which cleared Duluth for Houghton, one week ago Sunday, has gone down with all hands. The tug MAYTHAM has found wreckage floating on Lake Superior, 46 miles from Ontonagon. Thursday the MANISTEE was at Bayfield and hasn't been heard from since. #7 were aboard the vessel.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, November 23, 1883
MANISTEE 679 Tons. 16 years old. Valued at $20,000. Total loss 1883 on Lake Superior.
      Lost Tonnage on the Lakes in 1883
      Marine Record, December 27, 1883

The loss of the propeller MANISTEE with nineteen souls on board was a sad winding up of the recent November gale. Detroit Nov. 26
      Marine Record. Nov. 29, 1883

The captain of the steamer HACKLEY reports running through portions of the wreckage of the MANISTEE between ONTONAGON and Portage Canal, firteen miles off shore. - Marquette Report
      Marine Record
      Nov. 29, 1883

MANISTEE Propeller, foundered November 20, 1883. App. value $25,000 app. loss $30,000.
      Casualty List for 1883
      Toronto Globe, Dec. 4, 1883

The story of a bottle message from Capt. McKay of the steamer MANISTEE, which was telegraphed all around the lakes from Bayfield, Wis., several days ago, was what is known as a newspaper "fake." This is proven by an investigation made by Capt. George P. McKay of Cleveland, who secured the piece of paper containing the alleged message from his lost brother, and who sought out other facts from Bayfield. The newspaper correspondent who is at this late day "taken in" by bottle- message fiends is hardly fit for the work in which he is engaged. He is an object of sympathy, but it is different with the fellow who invents such stories in order to get a few dollars from the dispatches which he sends out. A law should be found to apply to this latter class.
      The Marine Review
      June 3, 1897

      . . . . .

      Special to the Detroit Post.
ST. PAUL, MINN., May 26 - Eighteen months ago the steamer Manistee went down in a gale on Lake Superior, and all on board perished. Last Sunday afternoon a party of trout fishers, while angling up Fish Creek, which runs into the lake at Ashland, Wis., some distance from its mouth, found a sealed bottle containing a piece of paper on which was written: "On board the Manistee - Terrible storm tonight, may not live to see morning. Yours to the world.
McKay was captain of the Manistee at the time of the disaster. The people of Ashland with whom he was in the habit of doing business, carefully compared the handwriting on the slip of paper found in the bottle with receipts and other documents of the late captain, and pronounce the handwriting on the slip to be his without question. The slip of paper has been sent to the widow of the late Capt. McKay for further identification. None of the bodies of those on board were ever recovered, but stray pieces of the wreck were found soon after the disaster, which made it certain that the vessel had gone to pieces while out in mid lake.
[Circumstances attending the loss of the propeller Manistee are still fresh in the minds of navigators. She ran in connection with the Union Steamboat line, carrying freight and passengers between Duluth and Marquette. On the day preceding the disaster she lay at Bayfield. A storm was raging outside, and the propeller India was obliged to run in for shelter at the same place. Capt. John McKay of the Manistee, who was a venturesome navigator, immediately let go his lines and started out into the storm. Nothing was ever heard from her up to the time that the bottle was picked up as narrated above. It is supposed that she sank near the Apostle Islands.]
      Detroit Post
      Wednesday, May 27, 1885

Steam screw MANISTEE. * U. S. No. 90311. Of 677.10 tons gross; 413.47 tons net. Built Cleveland, O., 1867. Home port, Chicago, Ill.
      * Denotes vessel Lost, Wrecked or otherwise out of service.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1884

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 19
Hull damage: $20,000
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.9089983827745 Longitude: -90.1373291015625
William R. McNeil
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Manistee (Propeller), U90311, sunk, 20 Nov 1883