A Great Freshet. - The long continue thaw (now happily brought to a termination) had the effect to raise the waters of the river, and yesterday morning at about five o'clock a large mass of ice which had piled up against the coffer dam above the bridge, gave way with a tremendous crash, and six vessels and a canal boat which had been very unwisely been moored near the bridge, a place where it had never before bee, thought prudent to fasten them, broke their cables and passed down river into the lake. The tug Bloore, the schooner Canton and one or two other vessels which were struck by those that broke loose, were lodge on rather perilous positions, but were shortly after recovered safe.
The names of the vessels that went into the lake are Belle Sheridan, Titan, Belle Adkins, Wide Awake, Thomas Kingsford, and Virginia. The wind at the time was blowing strongly from the South, and the ships soon passed out of sight. it so happened that there was not a tug or propeller in the harbor in working order at the time, their machinery having been taken out. Had it been otherwise the vessels could very easily have been recovered.
Between nine and ten o'clock in the forenoon, Captains Fitzgerald and Kimball manned two large yawl boats with a crew of seven men each, and provided with sails, lines, and provisions, started in pursuit of the vessels, with the intention of working them into port. It is probable that they reached the ships though at this writing they have not been heard from. The steam tugs Page and Read were put in working order as speedily as possible, and this morning left in pursuit of the vessels.
The rumor that the canal boat had a family on board, we believe to be entirely without foundation.
The result we presume will at least have the effect to prevent the mooring of any vessels in the dangerous current running near the bridge. Vessels below this point, on the opposite side of the river, and in the cove, lie securely unaffected by winds or freshets, but the point near the bridge is an unsafe position which should be avoided henceforth. The present accident was predicted by many when the thaw commenced. The primary cause undoubtedly was the neglect to take away the coffer dam; had that been removed the vessels might have remained in safety, though even then it would have been dangerous.
The public are under obligations to the police for the promptness with which they gave the alarm by ringing the City Hall bell. The whole city was shortly aroused, and everything that could be done to recover the vessels was speedily put in motion.
Later . - Since the above was in type, a telegraphic despatch has been received from Pulaski, by D.C. Abbey, part owner of the Kingsford and Belle Adkins, stating that the former vessel is at anchor off Port Ontario, with the two boats' crews that went in search of them on board. The Belle Adkins is stated to be between the ice and the Titan, with her planks pounding off stern under water, and upper works all gone. The steam-tug Page had just come in sight when the despatch was sent.
From this it appears that all the men who went out are safe, and there is a probability that the vessels will all be brought back and save, though more or less disabled.