The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Tribune (Detroit, MI), 27 Sep, 1875

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SOUND ADVICE. - One of the barges stranded on the shore near this place furnishes an example of the urgent need of something being done to remedy a growing evil. The barge referred to - the Sophia Smith - in coming against the rocks received such injuries as to reveal her true condition, and apparently there is hardly a sound timber or plank about her. Where she is broken the rotten wood can be picked away in pieces, leaving the iron bolts standing out bare and exposed. Any law or regulation permitting the sending out of such floating coffins as the one referred to must be seriously defective; and that there are many others in constant use almost or fully as bad we have every reason to believe. We think, too, the system now so much in vogue of towing barges needs looking after. The number of these that any tug or other steam craft may take in tow should be limited. It is not unusual to see in the tow six and eight barges, which are almost helpless in a storm if cast off by the tug. Two, or at most three, would be enough for safety. A large number of accidents are each season occurring because of the tug taking on more than it can manage if the weather becomes in the least rough. And yet there will always be owners willing to take the chances on twenty-four or forty-eight hours of good weather, and risk the lives of the sailors, unless restrained by law. - Huron County News.

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In my opinion this is a very fair assessment of the towbarge situation. Dozens of wooden vessels wrecked during the last half of the nineteenth century were reported to have been in appalling condition when examined. The 20-year-old SOPHIA SMITH (US#22271), ashore on Pte Aux Barques since Sep 9, was abandoned soon after this article was written. In all fairness, however, the SMITH was carrying no cargo at the time of her loss because she was considered to be in too poor a condition to carry any load.
Date of Original:
27 Sep, 1875
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Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Tribune (Detroit, MI), 27 Sep, 1875