The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
California (Propeller), sunk, 3 Oct 1887

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The Propeller CALIFORNIA sunk at Gros Cap at 2 o'clock this morning. Eleven lives were saved but sixteen lost.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, October 4, 1887

CALIFORNIA Propeller of 580 Tons. Home port, Montreal. Owned by Crangle. Built 1873. Class A 2. On October 3, 1887 vessel foundered in Lake Michigan with a general cargo, and became a total loss. Property loss, hull $27,000 cargo $20,000
      1887 Casualty List (Total Loss)
      Marine Record, Dec. 15, 1887 p.4

Mackinac City.---The CALIFORNIA left Chicago for Montreal at 10 o'clock last Saturday night with twenty six persons aboard, including five passengers. Four of the passengers had round trip tickets purchased at either Montreal, Kingston or Toronto, and there is no record of their names here. A Miss Mubrey was the only Chicago passenger, and it is not known whether or not she resided there. The crew numbered twenty one. Captain J.V. Trowell; mate, Peter Legault; engineer, James Ellis and S.A. Mills; purser, George Foley; stewartess, Mrs. Blood; cabin maid, Miss Pappo; two firemen, two wheelsmen, seven deck hands, two cabin boys, and a watchman. The cargo consisted of 20,000 bushels of corn, shipped by George Clark & Co.; and a small amount of general merchandise, the whole valued at about $20,000 The CALIFORNIA encountered a heavy wind early Monday morning off the Beavers, and at 4 P. M. the sea had increased so that it was impossible to steer her, and three hundred barrels of pork were thrown overboard without helping her much. About 11 P. M. when just above St. Helena the sea broke in the gangways and put out the fires. She then swung round in the trough of the sea and began breaking up. The capain ordered the boats lowered, but she was so badly listed that it was impossible to lower but one. The captain went into the cabin to get the passengers out, but when he returned found that the first mate and several men had left with the boat. The steamer now began rapidly breaking up and soon all hands were struggling in the water. The captain and engineer succeeded in getting a boat loose from the wreck and picked up the second engineer, cook and one lady passenger. Their boat drifted down alongside the propeller A. FOLSOM, which was anchored under St. Helena, and was picked up and brought here. Nine lives were lost and eighteen saved. Among those not accounted for are Peter Ligo, first mate; Bell Tough, fireman; Geo.Foley, Purser; Wm. Hill of Montreal, cook; Jos. Martin, fireman; Jno. Eazevia, deckhand; Cornelius Connerton, of Detroit, passenger; Ella Pappa, sterardess; Arthur Hazard, cabin boy; and Robert Grant. The shore for five miles above here is strewn with wreckage. The wreck lies a mile from shore, and a heavy sea breaking over it. The hull is under water, the masts gone and the cabin stands on end. It is thought that nearly all the bodies will be found under it. Everyone had on life preservers, so the bodies will come ashore as they get clear of the wreck. The survivors are being tenderly cared for by farmers. Four of the sailors were unconscious when shore was reached, and none could walk.
The grain is insured for $11,600 in the Western Assurance of Toronto, and the pork for $3,000 in the Boston Marine. The CALIFORNIA was built at Hamilton in 1873, measures 586 tons and rates A 2. She was owned by Crandle & Geddes, valued at $27,000, and insured for $10,000, chiefly in Canadian companies.
      The Marine Record
      Thurs. Oct. 6, 1887 p.5

      The Steambarge E. S. PEASE is ashore at Port Hope, she was formerly the CALIFORNIA, built in 1873 by Robertson Bros, at Hamilton, Ontario. In 1883 she was lengthened - 900 Tons. On Oct. 3, 1887 she foundered off St. Helena Island, Lake Michigan, 14 lost. She was raised by Captain Pease and rebuilt this past winter at Wheeler's shipyard in Bay City.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Saturday, June 1st. 1888

Toronto.---Captain Trowell, chief engineer Ellis, and Mrs. Blood, stewardess of the ill-fated CALIFORNIA, arrived here Friday night. They brought with them the bodies of George Foley, purser. Arthur Hazard, cabin boy, and Miss Papa, ladies maid. The latter two bodies were sent east, Miss Papa to Kingston and Hazard to Napanee. Foley's body was sent to Collingwood.
      The Marine Record
      Thurs. Oct. 13, 1887 p.5

      Propeller CALIFORNIA, of 580 tons reg. and 4 years old. Home port, Montreal. On
October 4, 1887 while bound from Chicago to Montreal, vessel foundered in a gale on Lake Michigan, with the loss of 9 lives. Listed as a total loss. Property loss $27,000.
      Statement of Wreck & Casualty, 1887
      Dept. of Marine and Fisheries

the propeller "CALIFORNIA" foundered near St. Helena Island, Lake Michigan about I a. m. on the 4 th. October 1887 with the loss of two passengers, the Purser, two firemen, the Ladie's maid, the Cook, and a cabin boy, also a deck hand, nine lives in all.
The vessel foundered owing to stress of weather, and doubtfUl seamanship, an investigation was conducted.
The California was built at Hamilton, Ont. in 1870, and was lenghtened by 35 feet in 1882 she registered 902 tons gross, and was owned by messers Crangle & Geddes, of Toronto, she was classed as a passenger & freight boat.
She had at the time of the disaster 20,000 bushels of corn, and 700 barrels of pork on board
      Steamboat Inspection Report for 1887
      Sessional Papers (Federal) 1888

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 16
Hull damage: $27,000
Cargo: $20,000
Freight: sundries
Remarks: Raised & Renamed
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.87029 Longitude: -84.82783
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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California (Propeller), sunk, 3 Oct 1887