The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Merchant (Propeller), aground, 1 Jul 1874

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Telegraphic advice from Chicago announces that the prop. MERCHANT of the Anchor Line, went ashore 10 miles south of Milwaukee Saturday, during a fog, and sunk in 12 ft. of water. The MERCHANT , at the time of the accident, was bound down, her cargo consisting of 18,000 bu. corn, 7,000 bu. oats and also a quantity of flour and sundries. Her hold is full of water. The tug WOOD, with 3 steam pumps, has left Chicago to afford her the necessary assistance.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 27, 1874 3-5

The Milwaukee Wisconsin thinks that the 17,000 bu. corn in the MERCHANT's hold is all wet. Capt. Niland fears that his vessel has a large hole in her bottom. He doubts whether 2, 9 inch pumps which have gone to her will keep her free,
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 28, 1874 3-4

Late advice from the MERCHANT announces that her grain has most all been pumped overboard, and that efforts are being made to jacket her. She is severely injured. She now lies on a clay bed, having drifted from her original position.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 31, 1874 3-5

We are gratified to be able to announce that the prop. MERCHANT has been rescued from her perilous position on the beach, and has safely arrived at Milwaukee. A dispatch to Mr. Evans, Manager of the line, dated at 3 P.M. yesterday, reported that the stranded vessel had just arrived at Milwaukee. It required 8 pumps to keep her free.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      August 1, 1874 3-6

The prop. MERCHANT was placed in drydock at Messrs. Wolf & Davidson's shipyard last evening after removing one of the Milwaukee, one of the Chicago and 2 of the Detroit steam pumps. An examination of her bottom shows that she has sustained serious injury. There are no less than 6 breaks, 4 in the keel and 2 in the iron bottom plates, besides one or 2 bad dents made by the boulders upon which she rested. The breaks are scattered along from bow to stern. Those aft were no doubt caused when she first struck on Saturday morning, and the others on the Sunday night following, during a norther, when she pounded heavily and shifted her position. One of the breaks in her plating is about an inch in diameter, and the other large enough to admit a mans fist. These can be easily repaired by patching; but those in the keel will necessitate sending to Buffalo where the MERCHANT was built, to have pieces of the proper size moulded. This will cause some delay in making the required repairs, and keep the propeller in drydock perhaps 10 or 12 days. Owing to the nature of the damage, the repairs made here must be permanent. Aside from the injuries mentioned, the hull of the propeller is sound in every particular. - Mil. Wisc., 3d.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      August 5, 1874 3-5

Propeller MERCHANT, cargo grain, on Racine reef, July 1874. Loss, hull $9,500 cargo $25,000.
      Casualty List for 1874
      Chicago Inter-Ocean, Dec. 25, 1874

      the Anchor Line of Erie, Pa., who built at Buffalo, as early as 1862, the screw steamer MERCHANT of about 1,300 tons capacity. After a successful career of about twenty years, the MERCHANT was wrecked on Racine reef, Lake Michigan, and became a total loss. Her machinery was recovered and placed in the steam barge A.L. HOPKINS, built at Marine City.
      Marine Review
      September 24, 1896

NOTE:- the propeller MERCHANT went on Racine Reef in Oct. 1875 and became a total loss, although some Casualty List give her as lost in 1874, re the above. She was however released and is listed in the 1875 Underwriters register.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Hull damage: $9,500
Cargo: $25,000
Freight: grain
Remarks: Raised ??
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 42.72446 Longitude: -87.75341
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Merchant (Propeller), aground, 1 Jul 1874