The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Algoma (Propeller), C85766, aground, 7 Nov 1885


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The C. P. R. steamer ALGOMA which left Owen Sound Thursday the 5th, went ashore on Isle Royale at 4 o'clock Saturday morning during a blinding snowstorm About 8 passengers and 25 of the crew are supposed to be lost.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, November 10, 1885

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      SHE SANK SUDDENLY.
      Further Particulars Of The Loss Of The Steamer ALGOMA.
      THE MOST TERRIBLE DISASTER IN YEARS.
      Forty-Eight Persons Drowned.
Toronto, Ont., Nov. 10. - At the office of the Canadian Pacific here a list of the passengers or crew of the ill-fated steamer ALGOMA, wrecked on Isle Royale on Saturday, was not kept, but it is ascertained there were five cabin and six steerage passengers and 44 or 45 of the crew. The cargo consisted of 134 tons of railway supplies. It is a fortunate circumstance that the ALGOMA was carrying the lowest number of passengers she has ever had.
      The Story Of The Disaster.
      Port Arthur, Nov. 10. - The story of the disaster, as related by Capt. Moore, is that the ALGOMA passed through the St. Marys Canal, bound for this port, last Friday noon. Soon after reaching Lake Superior the wind began to freshen up from the northwest and a great bank of leaden clouds along the northern horizon denoted the approach of heavy weather. Realizing, however, that the ALGOMA was one of the strongest and most powerful steamers afloat, and well able to cope with even a severe gale, Capt. Moore kept on her course. But as night approached the wind continued to increase in violence and by dark had
developed into one of the fiercest and most destructive gales ever experienced on the upper lakes.
      A Harrowing Scene.
      As the gale increased the sea began to make, and before midnight Lake Superior was lashed into a wilderness of seething foam. While the tempest screeched and howled, great waves swept completely over the struggling steamer.
      The situation was made all the more terrible by a blinding snow-storm that set in before morning. It was impossible to see the length of the steamer.
      The passengers and crew were terrified beyond measure, and momentarily expected to see the steamer plunge to the bottom. By instructions of Capt. Moore the officers circulated among the passengers, trying to allay their fears They were panic-stricken, however, and huddled together in the cabin, where the screams and prayers of the women and children could be heard above the thundering of the gale.
      The Wreck.
      Saturday morning the Isle Royals was sighted, and Capt. Moore headed the steamer for Rock Harbor, where he hoped to gain shelter. The Island forms a natural harbor of refuge, but near the entrance there is a dangerous reef, and just as the steamer was nearing the entrance she struck the reef. There was a terrible shock, and then the steamer came to a full stop. The passengers rushed out of the cabin and beseeched the officers to tell them what had happened.
      "We are on a reef," replied Capt. Moore, "but if you will only keep as calm as possible I trust all will be safely landed."
      Just then one of the crew reported that the steamer's bottom had been punctured, and that she was filling with water.
      The boats were at once got in readiness and all started to leave the steamer, but just as they were about to lower them the steamer slipped off the reef and disappeared with an angry roar.
      Struggling For Life.
      The water was covered with the struggling forms of men and women, and then all was over. Only 14 lived to tell the tale. These got into one of the boats but were powerless to save themselves, as they were without oars. Capt. Moore, however, wrenched a footboard from the bottom of the boat, and with that as a paddle, succeeded in working the boat to the Island, where the survivors were picked up by the ATHABASKA.
      Mr. Bentley, the manager of the line, has sent out tugs from here with instructions to search Isle Royale for any survivors that may have possibly got ashore, and to pick up and take care of any bodies that may be found. The tugs are now at the scene of the wreck.
      A Terrible Scene.
      A special, giving an account of the disaster says the vessel was feeling he way in the fog at a moderate rate of speed, when suddenly a great crash was heard, and the vessel rebounded and quivered like an aspen leaf. "Good God," said the captain, "she's struck. Our doom has come !" Ten seconds later all was the wildest confusion and alarm, while the shrieks of the milder sex were terrible. Crash, crash, and the stout vessel pounded the rocks. The crackling of the timbers and the swaying of the vessel warned all that death in a terrible form was upon them. The relentless wind seemed to scream its satisfaction, while the snow and sleet drove against the half-clad passengers.
      "It is no use to describe the scene," said one informant. "Nothing worse ever occurred on earth. In their madness, when the waves were washing the deck, a number threw themselves into the foaming billows. Others, when a great wave would pass off the deck, which was swaying from side to side, were swept into the sea like feathers. A few hurried on to ropes or to the masts, but the majority seemed to abandon themselves in the wild alarm and despair. Even the crew seemed powerless, so stricken were they with the awful suddenness and stupendous character of the disaster. Meanwhile the boat rapidly went to
pieces, and
      Dashed Against The Rocks.
      The crew, all of whom except the waitresses had clung to the rigging, managed during a slight lull in the storm to place themselves in a life-boat, cut the fastenings, and in an instant a wave swept them from the ill-fated wreck. Amid the awful roar of the wind and the terrible dashing of the waves the boat was borne onwards. Two of the passengers had managed to place themselves in the boat before it was cut away from the wreck. Any efforts that had been made to launch boats in the early confusion and horror had failed. Meantime the life-boat and its occupants has a terrible experience on the open storm-tossed lake. All who could, bound themselves to the boat, while the remainder held on like grim death to the sides. Expecting every moment to meet their deaths either by drowning or from exposure and cold, which was intense, the half-dead inmates were borne on. Once the boat was turned over with the waves, and one of the crew washed away, but the frail craft righted itself, and was swept on in the comparative darkness. After half an hour the boat suddenly struck some rocks. The inmates fearing all was over with them, as the craft capsized, but, to their surprise, when thrown out, the water was only a few feet deep, and they discovered that they were on land. After remaining there an hour or more, exposed to the elements, the storm abated, and the sky cleared. It was then discovered that they were on Isle Royale, and that the vessel had been wrecked about a mile from shore on the great boulders that exist near the channel. It was about 10 0'clock in the morning, and the half-dead crew remained there until late in the afternoon, when the ATHABASKA came along and picked them up. They were then taken to Port Arthur."
      Lost And Saved.
      Owen Sound, Ont., Nov. 10. - So far as known the following is a list of the lost and saved on the steamer ALGOMA:
      The Lost.
      Mrs. Dudgeon, of Owen Sound, with two children.
      Edwin Frost, wife and one child, Owen Sound.
      Thomas Smelling, waiter.
      John Scott; L. Butes and Ballantyne, deck hands.
      Mrs. Shannon, ladies' maid.
      Gill, of Markdale.
      Two brothers named Buchanan.
      Charles Taylor, steward.
      McIntyre; Fred Knight; Thomas McKinny; H. Emerson; H. McClinton, waiters.
      The Saved.
      Capt. Moore, badly hurt.
      Hastings, first mate, and R.D. Simpson, second mate, both of Owen Sound.
      John McLean; Robert McCaul and John McKenzie, waiters
      H. McCaulder, fireman.
      H. Lewis, wheelsman.
      R. Stephens; James Boutau and Dave Langton, deckhands.
      John McNab, watchman.
      W.J. Hill and W.B. McArthur, two passengers.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      Wednesday, November 11, 1885

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      D E T A I L S O F T H E D I S A S T E R.
      The Latest Particulars Of The Wreck Of The Canadian Steamer ALGOMA.
      Port Arthur, Ont., Nov. 11. - Nothing has ever created such profound sorrow along the north shore of Lake Superior as the loss of the Canadian Pacific railway steamship ALGOMA. The ALGOMA and her officers were highly esteemed by the people of Port Arthur, and the tearful loss of life occasioned by the disaster has caused countless hundreds to mourn. There was considerable uneasiness felt here during Sunday night when the ALGOMA failed to arrive, but no one supposed that anything beyond an unusually long delay had occurred. The ATHABASKA came in last evening, and the news spread like wildfire that the ALGOMA was lost. A large and excited crowd rushed down to the boat. The report proved to be only too true. In the cabin lay Capt. Moore, commander of the ill fated vessel, terribly crushed and bruised, and in the saloon were the first and second mates, showing plain traces of the awful struggle they had for life with the merciless waters of Lake Superior. Down in the hold were the bodies of two of the men who met an untimely end in their attempts to fight through the surf to the land. Capt. Moore is badly injured by the cabin falling on him, and is too ill to be seen to-day. The first and second mates, Joseph Hastings and Richard Simpson, were also somewhat roughly handled, the former having his feet terribly cut with broken glass and the latter getting both feet frozen.
      Of the two passengers who were saved from the wreck of the ALGOMA, William J. Hall seems to have suffered the greatest shock. He lives in Winthrop, near Seaforth, Ont., and gives an account of the terrible disaster similar to that already published. The persons who endured that awful night, exposed to the fearful wrath of Lake Superior's angriest mood, will bear the traces of their experience for years. They looked death too plainly in the face all night long to ever forget the scene; and the mental and bodily strain and agony endured can
be plainly noticed in their features. The three men who jumped overboard and succeeded in swimming to shore and rescuing the remainder of the crew and passengers are Hy. Lewis; Stevens, and A. Mckenzie, who was struck by a piece of the cabin and washed over shortly after the ALGOMA struck on the rock, is a nephew of the Hon. Alex McKenzie. He was very popular with all who ever met him and his sad end will be greatly mourned.
      A Passengers Story.
      William R. McCarter, one of the passengers saved, is 52 years of age. His home is at Meaford, Ont., where he formerly had an interest in the 'Monitor.' Mr. McCarter was on his way to British Columbia with a neighbor named William Mulligan, who was going out there to settle. Mr. Mulligan is among the list of lost. Mr. McCarter gives the following account of the disaster:
      "There was a frightful storm during the trip from Owen Sound until late Friday night, when the passengers went to bed. The ALGOMA struck about twenty minutes to 5 o'clock Saturday morning. The shock was a severe one, and the vessel trembled and shivered. I rushed out and saw three or four deckhands rushing aft and waving their hands like people demented. I followed the men and asked what was wrong. They replied that they did not know, but something terrible had happened. A stranger stopped me and said: "This is a terrible occurrence. It is sad to think we must all die here. Let us hope it will turn out all right. This poor man was drowned in less than a quarter of an hour after. The men from down below all crowded upon the higher deck and along the port side. The storm was terrible. The waves rushing in great mountains over the decks, and every few minutes the despairing shriek of some unfortunate persons was heard as they were carried out to sea and lost. The vessel lay broadside to the island, and there was a dreadful surf - an awful sea pounding and beating against her sides. The cabin soon gave way, and the women, children
and men were then washed off the boat beyond all hope of safety. A great many persons grew almost crazy and jumped into the sea in the hope of getting ashore We did not know where we were at first, as it was quite dark and there was a terrible storm of sleet and snow blowing in on us. The electric lights went out a few minutes after the boat struck, and the confusion and excitement were terrible.
      Brave Capt. Moore.
      "The Captain alone remained cool and steady. He showed what a man he really was just then, and did his duty like a man. When it seemed a certain death to run a lifeline along the deck, he seized a rope and strung out the line, telling the excited people to hold on to the rope and not become panic-stricken. High rocks towered up in front of us, and the pitiless sea tried to snatch us in its icy clasp on every other side. In this manner we passed the night, until it was fairly daylight, the waves dashing over us every few seconds and bearing some one away from the life-rope. I was standing between the captain and another man
when the cabin came crashing down on the captain and pinned him to the deck. He cried out: "O, I'm done for now, but what will become of these poor people ?" The man on the other side received a severe blow on his head and cried out: 'I'm crushed, I'm gone !" The next great wave carried him off without the slightest struggle, and he went to death without a groan. The night was terrible. No on can ever imagine what the people must have endured. Timbers were falling in every direction. The waves seemed to crush the boat like an eggshell, and ever once in a while a falling stick would be followed by a deep groan, and we knew some brave man had given up the battle. I was dashed several times against the
bulwarks and received this cut on my left eye and on the top of my head, but in all other respects I had a wonderful escape.
      Dashed To Death.
      "Although it was madness to attempt to swim through the angry surf to dry land, several determined fellows made the effort with life-preservers. Only three landed. The others were hurled against the rocks with tremendous force and mangled beyond recognition. I had three years' experience as a sailor on the Atlantic, and knew the benefit of keeping cool at such a time. The stern of the vessel was gradually shoved into the shore until it rested solid. We huddled close together on the steerage deck with a few blankets and spent the whole day in terrible anxiety. No one felt inclined to talk, but we sat and looked with anxious eyes at each other, listening to the awful wash of the merciless waves as they tore along the deck and broke the bulwarks to pieces. The captain said: "Men, let us unite in prayer." And with death staring us in the face we knelt down and the captain prayed for us all. Night came on and there seemed no hope. The sea kept bursting over the vessel. The night was spent in darkness, with nothing to eat or drink. During the night we could hear the captain inquire from the spot where he lay a prisoner to his injuries, "how's the wind, mate ?" and he seemed glad when he was told that it was veering around to the shore side.
      A Miraculous Escape.
      "Sunday morning, the men on the Island took a life-line from us and brought us ashore on a raft. We sent the captain first and another man to hold him, as he was unable to stand. The island proved to be Isle Royale, and fishermen saw us, invited us to their houses, and kept us very comfortable. We spent Sunday night there and the next morning about 5 o'clock the fishermen brought over their fishing-tug and asked the captain what was best to be done. He told them to intercept the ATHABASKA. They did so, and the officer came over to the island on the tug for us about an hour after daylight."
      As Told By The Mate.
      Mr. Hastings, the Mate, gives the following thrilling description of the wreck:
      "Nothing of any account occurred during the voyage to Sault Ste. Marie. The ALGOMA passed Whitefish Point about 1 o'clock in the afternoon of Friday. The wind was at that time blowing a stiff breeze from the east and northeast. At Whitefish Point sail was made and the steamer proceeded on her way under a full head of steam. The wind kept increasing in violence, and was accompanied by snow and sleet. At 4 o'clock Saturday morning the wind shifted to the northeast and a violent snow-storm raged. The sea was running mountains high and the boat was tossed about like a cork. Fifteen minutes past 4 o'clock the order was
given to take in all sail and put the wheel hard a starboard, to bring the ship about, and head out on the lake again, on account of the snow and darkness. When the ship was coming about she struck Greenstone Point, on Isle Royale, about 50 miles from Port Arthur and one mile from Passage Island Lighthouse, which has been abandoned since the 1st, of the month. After striking the first time the boat forged ahead, being driven by the wind. A second shock occurred shortly after the first. The vessel struck the reef violently and she
immediately commenced to break up.
      Heartrending Incidents.
      "Most of the passengers and a number of the crew were in bed at the time, but were awakened by the shock, and the scene that followed beggars description.
      Water poured in through the broken vessel and over the bulwarks, putting out the fires in the furnaces and extinguishing the electric lights. Screams of women and children were heard above the fury of the storm. The crew hurried hither and thither, doing what they could in the darkness to render assistance; but their efforts were of little avail, for in less than 20 minutes after the vessel struck, the entire forward part of the boat was carried away, together with her cargo and human freight. Several clung to the rigging and lifeline the captain had stretched along the decks, but were soon swept away and swallowed up by the angry waves. The stern of the boat was steadily pushed upon the rocks, and those who were not too much exhausted with fatigue and benumbed by the cold, crept to the after steerage and sought its shelter. Less than an hour after striking all was over, and but 15 out of 60 were saved.
      When the shock was felt he ran down to the Purser's room. He then pushed forward amid the stifling steam and aroused the steward and other employees, as well as the steerage passengers whom he had not awakened on his way down, and conducted them to the forward end. A lady passenger and her daughter were wildly crying in the saloon, clothed in only a thin night-dress. The mate urged upon all the great necessity of keeping quiet and obeying orders. While he was advancing forward with one of the lady's hands in his and holding the little girl with his other hand, a great wave crashed through the cabin, caught the woman and child and swept them out into the lake. Some of the men lost their reason completely and rushed into the stormy depths. About 17 persons followed the mate, and climbed into the rigging. The terrible sea swept the boat and the masts were washed under the waves. Every time they came up there were two or three forms missing. Once the mast made a dip with 10 men and when it came upright again only two persons were seen on it. The next sea swept all the brave strugglers away. One man fought nobly for his life. He was washed off the boat and clung to some ropes. Slowly, inch by inch, he struggled along the ropes, hand over hand, back to the vessel. Every few seconds a wave would hurl him around like a feather, dash him up, and them bury him under a mountain of ice-cold water, but he struggle on, until just a few feet away from the boat, when his strength gave out and he passed away with a wild, wailing appeal for aid.
      The Lost And Saved.
      Owen Sound, Nov., 11. - A revived list of the lost and saved in the ALGOMA disaster as accurately as can be obtained here:
      CREW LOST: J. Malone; H. Gill; John Scott; C. Murray; L.F. Brooks; W. Stokes; George Thompson; Thos. McKenny; W. Henderson; H. McClinton; Thos. Snelling; J.
McKenzie; H. Emerson; F. Knight; A. McKenzie; George Pettigrew; A. McDermott;
Charles Taylor; A. Mitchell; M.McTarget; W. Gibson; J. Brown; J. Wagstaff; H. Hamson; H. Mortimer; Mrs. Shannon; J. Paddle; H. Brocker and R. Mitchell.
PASSENGERS LOST: Edward Frost, wife and child; Mrs. Dudgeon and two children
William Higgins, wholesale merchant, Winnipeg; Charles & Douglas Buchanan, of Hillier, Ont.; Louis Zimmerman, Port Arthur; William Milligan, Meaford, Ont.; G. Emerson, Ramsgate, England.
      PASSENGERS SAVED: W.J. Hall and W.B. McArthur.
      Total Lost, 65; saved, 14. This makes the full number of persons the Canadian Pacific officials estimated was on board.
      The Lost Steamer.
      Ottawa, Ont., Nov. 11. - The ALGOMA is registered in the Marine Department as a steel screw vessel, A 1, built in 1883, 262 feet in length, 38 feet wide, 23 feet deep. She was powerfully built and equipped, and marine officials regarded her as fit to encounter and lake storm. The ALGOMA was one of three steel steamers that were built in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1883, for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. They were brought across the Ocean, taken to pieces at Montreal, and carried in sections to Lake Erie, as they had too great breadth to pass through the Welland Canal. They cost $210,000 each, and were as staunch
and strong as steel and the very best material could make them. Their hulls were divided into five water-tight compartments, and the builders guaranteed that if any two of the five compartments were to be opened in free communication with the sea the steamer would still float.
      The ALGOMA would compare favorably with first-class ocean steamers, and could accommodate 1,500 passengers and 65,000 bushels of grain. She was of 1,700 horse power and had a carrying capacity of 2,000 tons. The screw measured seven feet in diameter. The vessel could make the journey from Owen Sound to Port Arthur, a distance of 500 miles, in 40 hours. She drew 14 feet of water when loaded and when unloaded seven feet forward and 10 feet aft. She was handsomely fitted up for passenger traffic, containing 60 large state-rooms. In addition to this there were 250 beds provided for steerage passengers, all covered, in the deck-room. The tables had accommodations for about 150 persons
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      Thursday, November 12, 1885

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      THE " ALGOMA " GOES DOWN.
      Struck In A Blinding Snow Storm.
      The C.P.R. Steamer Wrecked And 37 Persons Lost - Port Arthur, Nov. 9 - The steamer ATHABASCA, which arrived this evening, reports the steamer ALGOMA wrecked on Isle Royale. She went ashore 1 mile north of Rock Harbor Lighthouse in a blinding snow-storm, about 4:30 on Saturday morning when on her up trip. The boat is a total wreck. All that remains of her is from the boilers aft.
      THE SURVIVORS - The ATHABASCA picked up the following persons, who were all the survivors so far as known: Wheelsman, Henry Lewis; wheelsman, Jno. McNab; fireman, P. McCalger; deck hands, R. Stephens; James Bolton; Daniel Laughlan; waiters, John McLain; George McCall; John McKenzie; passengers, W.J. Hall and A.B. McArthur from Meaford. Capt. Moore is badly hurt. The tug SISKWIT has gone to pick up any bodies that may wash ashore, and secure wreckage. Thirty seven persons are supposed to be lost.
      THE RESCUE - The ATHABASCA, which left Owen Sound two days after the ALGOMA, came upon the wreck at Isle Royale and found the crew and two passengers in a perishing condition on the island. The wreck had been dashed by the waves against the rocks and had finally beaten against the shore of the island. The crew and two passengers saved themselves by taking to the lifeboat and battling with the waves until shore was reached. The boat was washed over several times by the waves, but righted again while the men clung to its sides. They succeeded in reaching land, almost dead from exposure and exhaustion. The story continued to rage furiously all night long. The rescued remained on the beach watching the wreck beat against the rock bound island and seeing the dead bodies
dashed in the surf against the shore. The ATHABASCA came along about noon today, and as the channel is narrow, could not avoid seeing the wreck and the distress of those on the island. A boat was sent ashore and brought the rescued to the ATHABASCA, which set sail for Port Arthur, where she arrived about seven this evening.
      When the above news reached Meaford on Tuesday, much excitement prevailed particularly as it was expected two persons from this vicinity were on board:- Wm. Milligan of 7th. Line, St. Vincent, and Wm. R. McCarter, Printer, and late of the "Monitor" office. The only thing that justified these expectations was McCarter's name appearing among the saved, being one of the two passengers that reached land. These gentlemen left Meaford on Tuesday, the 3rd. inst., to take the steamer ALBERTA to Port Arthur, en route, to British Columbia. It now transpires that McCarter missed the ALBERTA, being in town in Owen Sound when she left. Doubtless Mr. Milligan went on with the ALBERTA, and would there
await the arrival of McCarter, who would follow him by the ALGOMA. McCarter was an old seaman, at one time in his life, being engaged in the whale fishing in the Southern Ocean, this very likely accounts for his being one of the two saved, as his knowledge of boating was likely to do him service in the emergency. Further particulars of the disaster will be anxiously awaited.
      LATER
      By a despatch from Owen Sound, we learn that W.R. McCarter took passage on the ALGOMA, and is among the saved. Milligan without doubt went by the ALBERTA and is safe.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, November 13, 1885

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      The Wreck of the Algoma
A survivor of the steamship Algoma, wrecked with such terrible loss of life on Lake Superior, says that when the shock was felt he ran down to the purser¹s room. He then pushed forward amid the stifling steam and aroused the steward and other employees, as well as the steerage passengers. Finding the escaping steam almost suffocating, he again rushed up to the cabin, aroused all the passengers whom he had not awakened on his way down, and conducted them to the forward end. A lady passenger and her daughter were wildly crying in the saloon, clothed in only a thin night dress. The mate urged upon all the great necessity of keeping quiet and obeying orders. While he was advancing forward with one of the lady¹s hand in his own and holding the little girl with his other hand, a great wave dashed through the cabin, caught the woman and child and swept them out into the lake. Some of the men lost their reason completely and rushed into the stormy depths. About seventeen persons followed the mate and climbed into the rigging. A terrible sea swept over the boat, and masts were washed clean under the waves. Every time they came up there were two or three forms missing. Once the mast made a dip with ten men, and when it came up right again only two persons were seen on it. The next sea swept all the brave strugglers away. One man fought nobly for his life. He was washed off the boat and clung to some ropes. Slowly, inch by inch he struggled along the ropes, hand over hand, back to the vessel. Every few seconds, a wave would hurl him around like a feather, dash hum up and then bury him in a mountain of ice-cold water, but he struggled on until just a few feet from the boat, when his strength gave out, and he passed away with a wild, wailing appeal for aid. Many of the passengers could be seen on their knees loudly calling for mercy and succor. The waves spared none. They dashed in and around each shrieking form and bore away as their prey with each returning visit dozens of human beings.
      John McLean was one of the two waiters saved. He felt the shock when the boat struck and jumped out of bed. He saw the engine had stopped and the electric light were out, while the boat was full of steam. He ran up the hurricane deck and saw the captain blowing off steam, which he continued until all was exhausted. "The captain told us there was no great danger and the safest place was down on the lower decks, We stared to run there when the waves carried away the hurricane deck and we grasped the rigging. The captain passed a life-line along and we hung on to it for eight hours, believing that every minute would be our last. It was dark and freezing cold, with a terrible sea. There were two ladies and three little girls that I noticed. They were swept away with the cabins. We could hear the ladies and girls calling piteously, but no one could help them. After a while their voices ceased, and we all knew they were out in the lake. The cabin went to pieces in ten minutes after the boat struck and only the stern part of the boat was left when we came away. All our clothing was lost. We all owe our lives to the exertion made by the captain. If it had not been for his coolness and prompt action we could not have gone through the first night. I have been on the lake for five rough seasons, but this it the roughest I ever saw."
      Watertown Times.
      Tuesday Nov. 17,1885

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      The ALGOMA wreck has been abandoned and the tugs have returned. Only four of the 48 bodies have been recovered.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      Wednesday, November 18, 1885

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      ONLY FIFTEEN SAVED
      Forty Eight Go Down To Death
      Appalling Wreck Of The C.P.R. Steamer " ALGOMA "
      The noble steamer ALGOMA which left the canal last Friday, never reached Port Arthur. During a blinding snowstorm she went ashore on Isle Royale and was dashed to pieces, and out of sixty three persons on board, only fifteen escaped One of the number thus describes the rescue on that never to be forgotten 7th. of November morning.
      The ALGOMA struck about twenty minutes to five o'clock on Saturday morning. The shock was a severe one and the vessel trembled and shivered. I rushed out and saw three or four deck hands rushing aft and waving their hands like demented people. I followed the men and asked, "what is wrong !" They replied that they did not know, but something terrible had happened. A stranger stopped me and said "this is a terrible occurrence. It is sad to think we all must die here, let us hope it will turn out right !" This poor man was drowned in less than a quarter of an hour later. The men from down below all crowded up on the higher deck and along the port side.
      The storm was terrible. The waves rushing in great mountains over the deck and every few minutes the despairing shriek of some unfortunate person was heard as they were carried out to sea and lost. The vessel laid broadside to the island and there was a dreadful surf - an awful sea pounding and beating against her sides. The cabin soon gave way, and the women, children and men were then washed off the boat beyond all hope of safety. A great many persons grew almost crazy and jumped into the sea in the hopes of getting ashore. We did not know where we were at first, it was quite dark and there was a terrible storm of sleet and snow blowing in on us. The electric lights went out a few minutes after the boat struck, and the confusion and excitement was terrible.
      The Captain alone remained cool and steady, he showed what a fine man he really was, just then, he did his duty like a man. When it seemed certain death to run a life-line along the deck, he seized a rope and slung out the line, telling the excited people to hold on to the rope and not become panic stricken High rocks towered up in front of us and the pityless sea tried to snatch up in its icy clasp on every side. In this manner we passed the night until it was fairly daylight, the waves dashing over us every few seconds and bearing someone
away from the life rope. I was standing between the captain and another man when the cabin came crashing down on the captain and pinned him to the ground. He cried out, "Oh, I am done for now, but what will become of these poor people The man on the other side received a fearful blow on his head and cried out, "I'm crushed, I'm gone." The next wave carried him off without the slightest struggle, and he went to death without a groan. The waves seemed to crush the boat like an egg-shell and every once in a while a falling stick would be followed by a deep groan, and we knew that some brave man had given up the battle. I was dashed several times against the bulwarks and received this cut on my eye and on the top of my head, but in all other respects, I had a most wonderful escape.
      Although it was madness to leap through the angry surf to dry land, several determined fellows made the effort, with life preservers. Only three landed, the others were hurled against the rocks with tremendous force and mangled beyond recognition. I had three years experience as a sailor on the Atlantic and knew the benefit of keeping cool at such a time. The stern of the vessel was gradually shoved into shore until it rested solid. We huddled close together in the steerage deck with a few blankets and spent the whole day in terrible anxiety. On one felt inclined to talk, but we sat and looked with anxious eyes at each other, listening to the awful ! swish ! swish of the merciless sea as the waves tore along the decks and broke the bulwarks into pieces.
      Before we rolled the Captain up, he said, "Men, let us unite in prayer?" and with death staring us in the face, we knelt down and the Captain prayed for us all. The night was spent in darkness, with nothing to eat or drink.
      Sunday morning, and the men on the island took a life line from us and brought us ashore on a raft. We sent the Captain first, with another man to hold him on, as he was unable to stand. The island proved to be the Isle Royale. and fishermen saw us and invited us to their house and kept us very comfortable.
      We spent Sunday night there, and next morning about five o'clock the fishermen brought over their fishing tug and asked the Captain what was the best to be done. He told then to intercept the ATHABASCA. They did so and the officers came over to the island in the tug for us about an hour after daylight
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, November 20, 1885

      . . . . .

      THE ALGOMA.
      [Chicago Tribune]
      When the Canadian Pacific managers brought their first steamers over from Scotland and placed them on the route between Owen Sound and Port Arthur a schedule time table was issued and the masters of the steamers instructed to make so many miles in so many hours under all circumstances. An individual vessel owner, would never dream of giving such instructions to the captain of his vessel, but would leave the speed and the course to be followed outside to the discretion and good judgment of the man with whom he intrusted his property No so, with a great corporation, whose only interest in their steamers was to keep up a connection with the water terminal of their railroad. But the railroad corporation had nearly $1,000,000 invested in steamboats, and took every precaution to guard against financial loss. By paying high premium rates underwriters were found who would issue policies covering accidents to these steamers, of no matter what nature. Consequently the premiums were paid, and the underwriters said to the company; "Go Ahead ! Run your steamers at high speeds through furious gales, dense fogs and blinding snowstorms. If they sustain damage, or run into and sink another vessel, we will settle the loss." This is the kind of insurance that Canadian Pacific Railway Company obtained for its boats, and the masters, or more accurately speaking, "conductors," were given the alternative of following the strict instructions of the Company or resigning their commands.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      Friday, November 20, 1885

      . . . . .

      The Canadian Government has instructed Capt. Thomas Whaleboat and Lieu. A.R. Gordon to make a thorough investigation of the ALGOMA disaster. These officials are eminently fit to inquire into the cause of the wreck. Capt. Harbottle in particular, having had much practical experience as a steamboat master. It is to be hoped they will spare no pains in placing the blame, if any exists, where it belongs.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      Friday, November 20, 1885

      . . . . .

The Canadian Pacific Railroad Company has decided to make an effort to recover the machinery of the steamer ALGOMA, which went to pieces on Isle Royal, Lake Superior, last fall. Bids have been asked for, and several American Wrecking companies are figuring for the job. The ALGOMA will not be replaced, the company concluded that its other two steamers, the ALBERTA and ATHABASTA, will be sufficient to take care of its water route. These boats will run as formerly between Port Arthur and Georgian Bay.
      The Saginaw Courier
      April 2, 1886

      . . . . .

      The work of raising the machinery of the steamer ALGOMA, wrecked off Isle Royale, is being pushed along. The tug GEORGE HAND and schooner L.L. LAMB are engaged in the operations. The body of a man was found between decks, partly under the railway iron.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, July 30, 1886

      . . . . .

      When in Owen Sound last Thursday, we saw the engine and other machinery of the lost ALGOMA loaded on a number of platform cars. The rusted lot of tubes and engine fixings, made a wonderful confused looking heap. The whole must be some hundreds of tons weight.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, September 10, 1886

      . . . . .

      The propeller J. C. SUIT has returned to Detroit from the wreck of the Canadian passenger steamer ALGOMA, which was lost nine years ago. The wreck is on the south coast of Isle Royale. The SUIT has been chartered to be used in stripping some of the wrecks of Lake Superior. She will return to the ALGOMA and remove the bar iron in the hold of the wrecked boat.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Tuesday, May 12, 1903
     
     
     


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: aground
Lives: 48
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1885
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.14840
Language of Item:
English
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 48.00044 Longitude: -88.83341
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Algoma (Propeller), C85766, aground, 7 Nov 1885