The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Bishop's Derrick (Derrick), sunk, 24 Sep 1853

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Just as we go to press, we regret to learn of the total wreck of Bishop's Derrick, which happened about daylight this morning. Mr. Bishop started with the Derrick at 3 o'clock A. M. yesterday from Grand River. towed by the steamer EMPIRE, for the wreck of the ERIE. After being anchored there a few hours, the gale now prevailing commenced, and the sea ran so high that the anchor could not be raised in time to get the Derrick off. She lay over the wreck till about 4 o'clock this morning, when the trusses broke across the LEXINGTON, one of the boats attached to the Derrick to balance it. The Derrick fell across the LEXINGTON, and they soon went down together.
The wreck lies about half a mile from the wreck of the ERIE. One horse went down in the Derrick and five men who were at work on her, clung to a small boat and were picked up by the steamer EMPIRE. We are indebted for these particulars to Mr. Green, the Diver, who was with the Derrick at the time of the accident. Loss about $30,000
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      September 24, 1853

The steamer EMPIRE, Capt. Mead, left this port some days since and proceeded to Grand River, where she took in tow the Derrick and brought if over to the wreck of the steamer ERIE off Silver Creek. Mr. Bishop and his assistants had previously placed chains under the ERIE, and everything was in readiness to raise the wreck. Yesterday a severe gale sprung up, blowing down the lake with great violence all day, and fears were entertained for the safety of the Derrick. During the night the gale increased and a portion of the Derrick fastened to the LEXINGTON gave way, and the hull filled and sunk, drawing the Derrick and the hull of the MADISON over with it. Several of the workmen took to a sail boat and arrived here during the night. The steamer EMPIRE, with Mr. Bishop and the remainder of his men, went down to Black Rock about 4 o'clock this morning.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Saturday, September 24, 1853

      . . . . .

      Bishop's Floating Derrick a Wreck
We are sorry to announce the total destruction of Bishop's Floating Derrick and the vessels connected with it. Mr. Bishop,informs us that yesterday he was well anchored on the grounds and over the wreck of the steamer ERIE. A severe blow came on, which threatened to drive the fleet from the ground of anchorage--they rode out the storm however, until this morning. The steamer EMPIRE, which had come to their assistance was unable to remain longer than 3 o'clock this morning.
About 5 o'clock, while riding out a head sea, a cross flaw struck the two boats supporting the Derrick and broke them asunder, one of them passing out of place. The Derrick pitched over and gradually sunk, taking down with it the MADISON, the remaining boat. The Derrick broke off some sixty feet above the deck of the MADISON as they went down.
Mr. Bishop describes the gale as very severe, but that he had not apprehended any danger up to the time the EMPIRE left them, that vessel being unable to hold on and ride out the gale. The sea from that time ran high and the gale increasing, produced this disastrous result. The engines of the Derrick were at work yesterday and last evening, and everything remained firm and in good order until the sundering of the boats.
The hands and all on board took to the life-boats, two of which were put in use and Mr. Bishop and his men drifted about five miles from the wreck, when they were picked up by the steamer EMPIRE and brought to this port. The sail-boat VIVID, also attached to the Derrick, containing a few hands, set sail for Point Abino, where it is believed she arrived in safety, as she was seen scudding at a rapid rate in that direction. A part of the wreck of the Derrick and the MADISON, were visible out of the water when they left the ground.
This is a misfortune much to be regretted, as there could be no doubt, that in a few days more, Mr. Bishop would have succeeded in raising the wreck of the ERIE, as he had already secured several chains to her for that purpose.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Saturday, September 24, 1853

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $30,000
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.54423 Longitude: -79.16671
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Bishop's Derrick (Derrick), sunk, 24 Sep 1853