The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Windsor (Steamboat), U26366, burnt, 26 Apr 1866

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WINDSOR, Steam ferry-boat, burnt to the waters edge on Detroit River. Total loss. April 1866. Property loss, hull $18,000, cargo $30,000 Lives lost, 30.
      Casualty List for 1866
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      February 26, 1867

      . . . . .

      WINSOR paddle wheel steamer of 223 Tons. a ferry boat built at Detroit in 1856. U. S. Number 26366. Burnt at Detroit, Mich., on April 26th, 1866, with the loss of 28 lives. Vessel a total loss
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      Lytle--Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868

      . . . . .

WINDSOR Steamer of 223 tons. Built Detroit in 1856 by Jenkins. Owned by Detroit & Michigan R.R. Co. Home port, Detroit. Value $14,000 Class B 1. REMARKS- Railway ferry boat. rebuilt in -??-
      Board of Lake Underwriters
      Lake vessel Register for 1866

      . . . . .

WINDSOR Ferry-Boat of 223 tons, owned at Detroit by G.B.Russell. The ferry steamer was destroyed by fire at Detroit, Detroit River, April 1866. a total loss with 30 lives lost. Loss to ship $36,000 insurance $21,500 Loss to cargo $7,500 insurance $3,600
      Marine Casualties on the Great Lakes
      1863-1873 U.S. Coast Guard Report

      . . . . .

      Conflagration at Detroit-Destruction of the
      Mich. Sou. & Det. & Mil. R.R. Depots.
The depot at Detroit owned by the Mich. Sou. & D & M. R.R. Co's, was consumed by fire about 10 o'clock last night, together with its contents, a passenger train and the Steamer WINDSOR. The fire was caused by the leaking of a barrel filled with kerosene, which a man was rolling from the D.& M. house to that of the G.W.R.W. The Post says, on discovering that the oil was running out he called a cooper to repair the cask, and stop the flow of oil, and while this operation was being performed, some one passed with a light. The gas from the escaping oil communicated therewith, setting fire simultaneously to the barrel and its contents. An explosion at once followed, and the burning oil ran along the dock in all directions, communicating to other barrels of oil upon the pier, and one by one exploded, thus constantly adding fuel thereto.
The Steamer WINDSOR was lying at the dock unloading freight, and when the fire broke out in a moment she was in flames and the escape of the hands on board cut off. It is believed that one or more persons were burned, and several are known to have thrown themselves in the water. (condensed)
      Toledo Blade
      April 27, 1866

      . . . . .

The Great Fire at Detroit.- The Detroit Advertiser gives the names of ten persons employed on the steamer WINDSOR, all of whom are supposed to be lost; and 18 employees of the Great Western Railway that are missing. (condensed)
      Toledo Blade
      April 28, 1866

      . . . . .

      REMOVING A WRECK. - The propeller ILLINOIS, Capt. Ives, is at present engaged at Sandwich Point, in removing the remains of the steamer WINDSOR, which for some time past has considerably interfered with navigation on that side of the river. - Detroit Free Press, 20.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      September 1, 1866

      . . . . .
Barge WINDSOR. - The steam ferry WINDSOR, which was burned a few years since after a comparatively short career, has quite recently been rebuilt. In carrying out the work she has been materially improved, being lengthened, having altogether different bows, and now bears the semblance of a first-class sailing vessel. The material used in the rebuild has been the very best, well bolted and thoroughly fastened. Her length is 114 feet keel, 30 feet beam, 9 feet depth of hold. She is well adapted for either the iron ore or lumber trade, and has one mast with sail. Her lumber capacity is about 300 m (thousand board-) feet. She will be ready for business in about three weeks. She costs, completed, about $9,000.
      Detroit Free Press
      April 25, 1871

NOTE:- WINDSOR burned to the waterline at Detroit almost exactly five years prior to this article - on Apr 26, 1866, with the loss of 28-30 lives. She was nearly destroyed when the Detroit and Milwaukee's riverside railroad terminal burned to ashes after the explosion of a barrel of naptha. The steamer DETROIT prevented further damage to nearby docks and vessels by pushing the blazing WINDSOR out into the river to burn out.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: burnt
Lives: 28
Hull damage: $36,000
Cargo: $7,500
Freight: merchandise
Remarks: Rebuilt as barge
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.33143 Longitude: -83.04575
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Windsor (Steamboat), U26366, burnt, 26 Apr 1866