The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
City of Green Bay (Schooner), U125216, aground, 3 Oct 1887

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Schooner CITY OF GREEN BAY, of 329 Tons. Owned by Reed, Home port, Chicago. Built 1872, class A 2. On October 3, 1887 vessel went ashore on Lake Michigan, with a cargo of ore and became a total loss. Property loss, hull $9,700 cargo $3,100.
      1887 Casualty List (Total Loss)
      Marine Record, Dec. 15,1887 p.4

The storm of the past two days have been the worst and most severe of the season. The schooner CITY OF GREEN BAY with ore from Escanaba to St. Joseph went down Monday near South Haven with all (6) on board.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, October 4, 1887

South Haven.---The three masted schooner CITY OF GREEN BAY, of Chicago, went to pieces in the terrible gale that swept across Lake Michigan Monday. Out of a crew of six men only one man saved. Captain W. Costello was among those who lost their lives. His body was recovered and sent to Chicago for burial. The schooner was bound for St. Joseph from Escanaba with 675 tons of iron ore. About 7 o'clock Sunday night she encountered a furious gale, and being overloaded she sprang a leak and began to fill rapidly. Mr. Slater, the surviving sailor, says that the crew, which was composed of five men and the captain, began to prepare for the worst by lashing together some ladders and other loose materials on deck for a raft. They then let go the anchors and drifted slowly all night. At daylight the vessel was sighted, about two miles northeast of this city, flying a signal of distress and drifting rapidly to the southward. As soon as she was sighted the life-saving crew started south on the lake shore with their beach apparatus. The crew climbed into the rigging and sung out for help. The schooner lay with her head to the beach and the sea washed the sand from under her stern until the heavy weight at that end caused her to break in two amidships. When the life-saving crew got the new line secure, it was apparent that the vessel was going to pieces, and that quick action, alone, would save the lives of the six men aboard her. The hawser was made fast, and the shipwrecked crew began hauling it aboard, but their laborious work was not half completed when the entire stern of the vessel was torn away by the surging seas. At the same time two of her spars toppled over, carrying with them three of the crew. They immediately disappeared and were seen no more. Each succeeding wave that broke over the wreck carried away some part of the vessel. In the meantime when the life-saving crew discovered that all of their efforts were fruitless, they launched their surf boat and faced death in a heroic attempt to reach the wreck. Captain Costello, with a life buoy tightly clasped in his arms, dropped in the water, and it is doubtfull if he lived a moment. His body was taken aboard by the life-saving crew. The captain of the life boat was swept overboard and came very near losing his life. He had a rib broken and was otherwise injured. Every effort was made to resuscitate Captain Costello, but in vain. Mr. Slater, one of the sailors washed off the crumbling wreck, and the only one left to tell the tale, was fortunate enough to get on a floating piece of the deck, to which he clung, though engulfed by the breakers half the time, until picked up by the life-savers, more dead than alive. A second effort was made to reach the wreck with a life-boat, in charge of Captain George Smith, but it was impossible to get her, owing to the mass of floating debris, and while still struggling to get nearer the hull of the ill-fated schooner she made one last convulsive lurch and was crushed into kindling wood. The two exhausted victims sank out of sight, and were seen no more. A thousand or more horrified spectators gathered to witness the scene, but could only look on helplessly. The life-saving crew discharged their duty fearlessly. Mr. Slater, the only survivor, was a new hand, and wholly unacquainted with the names of the crew or captain. The CITY OF GREEN BAY, 329 tons, was built at Green Bay by L. Nau, in 1872, was owned by Reed, of Chicago, Classed A 2, and valued at $9,000. In 1878 she took a cargo from Chicago to Scotland, returning to Montreal with coal, from there she went to South America and then to Liverpool. From the latter port she sailed for Cuba, but encountered a hurricane and put into a Spanish port disabled. After two years on the ocean she returned to the lakes, where she has been employed ever since in the grain and ore trade. Two months ago Captain Reed bought the vessel from C.W. Elphicke for $9,700, she is insured in Smith & Davis agency for $8,000.
      The Marine Record
      Thurs. Oct. 6, 1887 p.5 (condensed)

Schooner CITY OF GREEN BAY. U. S. No. 125216. Of 346.37 tons gross; 329.06 tons net. Built Green Bay, Wis., 1872. Home port, Chicago. Ill. 145.0 x 25.0 x 11.0.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: 5
Hull damage: $9,700
Cargo: $3,100
Freight: ore
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.40309 Longitude: -86.27364
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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City of Green Bay (Schooner), U125216, aground, 3 Oct 1887