The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Selah Chamberlain (Propeller), U115147, sunk, 14 Oct 1886

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The steambarge SELAH CHAMBERLAIN was in collision with the steamer JOHN PRIDGEON. The CHAMBERLAIN sunk 6 miles E. of Sheboygan, Wisc. Five lives lost
      Toronto Globe
      Friday, October 15, 1886

      . . . . .

      The SELAH CHAMBERLAIN was in collision with a N.Y.C. railway boat, the JOHN PRIDGEON and went to the bottom 6 miles east of Sheboygan on Lake Michigan. 5 were lost. The CHAMBERLAIN was bound from Milwaukee to Escanaba.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, October 15, 1886
      . . . . .

      The prop. SELAH CHAMBERLAIN had only $6,000 insurance, none of which was held by the Bradley estate, the owners. In view of this it is thought possible that the estate will try to raise her, for she is worth $54,000 to them when afloat, but no insurance company will touch her for $6,000.
      Erie Morning Dispatch
      October 18, 1886
      . . . . .

Propeller S. CHAMBERLAIN of 964 tons, built 1873 and owned by Bradley. On October 14, 1886 vessel sunk on Lake Michigan with the loss of 5 lives. Property loss $65,000 No insurance. Vessel a total loss.
      1886 Casualty List (Total Loss)
      The Marine Record, Dec. 30, 1886

      . . . . .

The wreckers on the propeller SELAH CHAMBERLAIN, sunk off Sheboygan, Wis., have made their last pull. Extra preparations were made for their last attempt at raising the boat, but the massive chains which were put around her broke again and she went down. M.A. Bradley has ordered the expedition home and the sunken boat will be abandoned.
      The Marine Record
      Thursday, July 28, 1887 p.1

      . . . . .

      Detroit.- The buoy which was placed over the wreck of the stmr. CHAMBERLAIN off Sheboygan was picked up by a tug a few days ago. The owners of the CHAMBERLAIN have been notified.
      The Marine Record
      Thursday, October 6, 1887 p.1

      . . . . .

Steam screw SELAH CHAMBERLAIN. U.S. No. 115147. Of 1,207.01 tons gross; 963.98 tons net. Built 1873 at Cleveland, Ohio. Home port, Cleveland, Ohio. 212.0 x 34.0 x 14.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1885
      . . . . .
All attempts to raise the SELAH CHAMBERLAIN, sunk in Lake Michigan, have been abandoned.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Wednesday, July 24, 1889
      . . . . .

      October 13, 1886 while the steamer SELAH CHAMBERLAIN was towing the FAYETTE BROWN. during thick and foggy weather off Sheboygan on Lake Michigan a single blast of a whistle was heard. The steamer blew one blast in exchange and then three to indicate she had a tow. She was ported, but the lights of the other steamer were seen on her port bow when the CHAMBERLAIN's wheel was put hard aport, and she blew a single blast. The other steamer the JOHN PRIDGEON JR., now two blasts, then went into the CHAMBERLAIN's port bow, sinking her at once. M.A. Bradley owned the CHAMBERLAIN, and the PRIDGEON was owned by the Ogdensburg, Lake Champlain railway. The case went from U S. district to U.S. circuit court, being last heard before Associate Justice Harlan in Chicago. Harvey D. Goulder and Schuyler & Kremer represented Mr. Bradley and H. C. Wisner was for the defendants. The former received the following from Washington, signed by the associate justice :
      The conclusions of law are as follows
"First that the CHAMBERLAIN is not chargeable with all fault in respect of the collision.
"Second, that the master of the PRIDGEON having the CHAMBERLAIN on the starboard side of his vessel, and being, therefore, obliged to keep out of the way of the CHAMBERLAIN, if it could be done, did what under the circumstances he ought not to have done, viz : he starboarded when he should have ported his wheel and failed to do what under the circumstances he should have done viz: He went ahead after discovering the lights of the CHAMBERLAIN, when he should have reversed until he ascertained the location of such vessel and the direction in which it was moving.
"Third, if the master of the PRIDGEON had ported instead of starboarding his wheel, or, if, immediately on discovering the lights of the CHAMBERLAIN, he had stopped and reversed the collision in question would mot have occurred.
"It is, therefore, considered that the law is for the libelants. Let a decree in their behalf be prepared and submitted to the court for approval."
      The case, which involves $60,000 may go to the supreme court, but there it will only be a question of law.
      Marine Review
      September 25, 1890
      Pridgeon-Chamberlain Case Settled at $44,000.
The Vermont Central Railway Company has paid the Bradley estate $44,000 in settlement of the loss of the steamer SELAH CHAMBERLAIN, which was sunk off Sheboygan, Wis., in October, 1886, through collision in a fog with the steamer JOHN PRIDGEON, JR. The PRIDGEON was owned by John Pridgeon of Detroit but was under lease to the Vermont Central and was running in its Chicago-Ogdensburg line when the collision occurred. The CHAMBERLAIN was in command of Capt. Greenley when sunk. Five of the crew were lost by the capsizing of one of the small boats after the accident. Capt. George Stone spent some time later in an attempt to raise the boat but the water in which she went down was too deep for successful wrecking work. Harvey D. Goulder of Cleveland represented the CHAMBERLAIN and C. E. Kremer of Chicago the PRIDGEON in the legal proceedings that followed the collision. Judge Blodgett in the United States district court at Chicago gave the CHAMBERLAIN a full decree, mainly on evidence showing that the PRIDGEON was running at a high rate of speed in a fog, and the decision was sustained by the Unit States circuit court. It was thought that the case would be be carried to the supreme court, but the appointment of Judge Blodgett to the new appelate court probably hastened the settlement, as decisions of the new court are final in admiralty cases. Recourse to the privilege of limiting liability on the part of the representatives of the Pridgeon caused a settlement at less than the value of the CHAMBERLAIN. This is the only case in the history of the lakes, and the second one in the United States, where a steamer got a full decree in an accident happening in a fog.
      Marine Review
      October 22, 1891

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 5
Hull damage: $65,000
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 43.75083 Longitude: -87.71453
William R. McNeil
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Selah Chamberlain (Propeller), U115147, sunk, 14 Oct 1886