The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Commerce (Steamboat), collision, 1 May 1851

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VIOLENT STORM.---About ten o'clock yesterday morning, the wind commenced blowing a tremendous gale from the southwest, which continued all day, frequently accompanied by snow, hail, and rain in great abundance. All the sail craft which had recently left port were forced to run back before the wind, and our harbor presented through the day a most excited appearance. Just at dark, the propeller SAGINAW, returning to port, ran into the steamer COMMERCE and cut her down. The propeller was considerably injured.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      May 2, 1851

VIOLENT STORM.---Just at dark, the propeller SAGINAW, returning to port, ran into the steamer COMMERCE and cut her down. The propeller was considerably injured. (part)
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      May 2, 1851
      Casualty List for 1851

      . . . . .

May 1, 1851. - Propeller SAGINAW, struck pier at Buffalo - damaged stern and wheel, and another vessel. Property loss, $400
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Monday, January 5, 1852
      Casualty List for 1851

We were visited yesterday by a gale of greater severity than has occurred on the lakes since 1844. Its approach was not indicated by the barometer, and hence it caught our shipping outside unprepared and we fear involved a severe loss of property if not of life.
The morning was cloudy and chilly, with a light wind from the northward and eastward. at about 10 o'clock it chopped round, and blew from the west south west with great force accompanied with snow hail and rain. It continued blowing with great fury throughout the day and during the forepart of last night .The sudden change of wind brought a great volume of water into our harbor, covering the low lands, filling the cellars and nearly submerging the docks, the extent of the damage to property in the vicinity of the harbor it is impossible to ascertain but it is quite severe.
The following disasters to shipping have fallen under our notice.
The prop. SAGINAW, which left on Wednesday evening for Detroit, encountered the gale with in four miles of Erie. She worked for four hours to make that port, and finding it impossible to make any headway against the wind and sea, put about and ran back. In coming in, just before dark last evening, she broached to, and run her stem on the south pier. Her machinery became deranged in backing, and she fell off against the pier of the Erie Basin, carrying away part of her wheel. The engine was put in motion again, and with the aid of her jib she ran inside. She then became unmanageably again, and ran foul of the schooner GAZETTE, carrying away her jibboom. She then cane in contact with a little steamer at the Railroad Docks, using her rather severely, and then passed up the Creek, turning three times round before she reached safe moorings, below the foot of Commercial Street.
Buffalo Morning Express
      May 2, 1851

Media Type:
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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Damaged
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.88645 Longitude: -78.87837
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Commerce (Steamboat), collision, 1 May 1851