The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sun (Propeller), U22281, sunk, 12 Jul 1874

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Propeller SUN, sprung a leak, sunk and total loss off Rondeau, July 1874. Loss $12,000
      Casualty List for 1874
      Chicago Inter-Ocean, Dec. 25, 1874
      . . . . .
      Propeller SUN, of 629 Tons, built Buffalo, N. Y., 1854. Home port, Buffalo. Foundered July 12, 1874 off Rondeau, Ontario. No lives lost.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      Lytle - Holdercamper List 1790 to 1868

      . . . . .

      SUN 1854 to 1874
Builder: Vincent Bidwell, Buffalo, N.Y.
Machinery: Shepard Iron Works, Buffalo, N.Y.

Hull: Wood; 191'11 x 28'6 x 12' 629 Tons.
Engine: Verticle Direct-acting Engine. Cylinder:28-1/2" dia. 3'6" stroke
Propeller: 13'8" dia.
Ansel R. Cobb & others, Buffalo, N.Y. 1854-55; American Transportation Co.,
Buffalo, N.Y. 1855-59; Jacob Omson, Buffalo, N.Y., Peter Relf, 1859-61;
Robert Montgomery & others, Buffalo, N.Y. 1861-74
Designed for the freight service between Buffalo and Chicago SUN left Buffalo on her first trip on May 1, 1854. She had a cargo of merchandise and railroad iron for Chicago. She must have had more than the usual share of teething troubles of new steamers, for by May 4 she had only gotten as far as Point Pelee, Lake Erie at the western end of the lake, when she went ashore in a fog and gale. After part of her cargo had been jettisoned, she was freed and proceeded on her way. During 1854 SUN ran on the so-called Dispatch Line, which operated a number of freighters between Buffalo and Chicago. In October 1854 she broke down off Milwaukee and had to be towed into port for repairs.
In 1866 or 1867 SUN was cut down into a lumber hooker, her tonnage being reduced to 569 Tons. From then on she ran mainly between North Tonawanda, N. Y. then the world's greatest lumber port, and the Michigan lumber ports on Lake Huron. Navigation opened at Buffalo about April 19, 1874, when SUN left for Bay City, Mich.,towing the lumber barge MATILDA. Owing to a decline in the lumber trade she was laid up at Bay City from June 19, 1874 on. But three weeks later business had improved and she came down to North Tonawands towing three barges and bringing 333,000 feet of lumber.
SUN left North Tonawanda about July 11, 1874 in ballast, towing the empty barges BRALEY, McGILVERY and CARNEY for Bay City for another cargo of lumber. On July 12, 1874 she was caught in a mean Lake Erie storm off Rondeau, Ontario, about forty miles north east of Point Pelee. Trying to pass Pointe aux Pins the old hull just opened up and sank. The SUN's crew took to her two boats, spending
a very miserable night on the stormy lake until picked up by the schooner LILLIE PRATT. In the meantime the three barges had cast off when they saw the SUN was going down, and setting their sails reached the Detroit River in safety. Sun foundered in 18 fathoms of water. (slightly condensed)
      Early American Steamers Vol.V1
      by Erik Heyl
      . . . . .

We learn that the engineer of the prop. SUN has arrived in the city and reports that his vessel went down in the heavy weather last Sunday while off Rondeau. She was going up with a tow of barges and sprung a leak but did not make water rapidly until just before she went down, when she settled so rapidly that the crew barely had time to escape with the clothes on their backs. She was an old vessel and sunk in 18 fathoms of water, so that her career is probably ended. We could not ascertain whether she had any insurance or not. She was owned by Cat. Lyman Hunt and others of this city, we believe.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 14, 1874 3-5

Some of the particulars given us yesterday regarding the sinking of the prop. SUN off Rondeau Sunday night, were incorrect. The engineer of the SUN, Mr. C. Douw, requests us to state that she did not go down suddenly, but that the crew had ample time to get away in safety. Their reason for leaving at once was that they then had a chance to get on board a passing vessel; whereas, if they had waited to load the small boats with clothing and other articles, the vessel would have gone out of reach, and there is no knowing what the result of delaying might have been, as (the weather was very stormy at the time.) He also contradicted the statemant that she sunk in 18 fathoms of water.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 15, 1874 3-5

      The well known prop. SUN which went down off Rond Eau on the morning of the 12th. inst., was one of the earliest class of propellers on the lakes, built at Buffalo by Bidwell & Banta in 1854, burden 629 tons. She has occupied several routes and in the main has not had many misfortunes during her 20 year career. The most prominent incident of her time we find recorded as follows, 1856, May, got ashore at Point au Pelee and jettisoned part of her cargo of merchandise, involving $1,000 loss; 1856, August, broke her engine on Lake Huron and was towed to Detroit; $500; 1861, July, rolled her smoke stack overboard on Lake Michigan, $1,300, and in September of the same year lost her wheel on Lake Michigan, $2,000. For a considerable time she was out of commission at Buffalo and at the time of her loss was worth about $15,000.
      Detroit Free Press
      September 15, 1874

Steam screw SUN. U. S. No. 22281. Of 629 tons gross. Built Buffalo, N.Y., 1854. First home port, Buffalo, N.Y. Foundered off Rondeau, Ont., July 12, 1874. No lives lost.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      The Lytle - Holdcamper List, 1790 - 1868

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $12,000
Cargo: nil
Freight: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.2975 Longitude: -81.888611
William R. McNeil
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Sun (Propeller), U22281, sunk, 12 Jul 1874