Tracking the historical record of ships on the Great Lakes before the turn of the century is sometimes difficult. That's because vessels had a habit of sinking, burning, or in other ways appearing to get destroyed, only to be raised and rebuilt later under a new name.
The steamer ATLANTIC is an example of a ship that wouldn't die, even though her time was long overdue. The ATLANTIC was once part of a crack fleet of ships built for the Union Transportation Company in the 1860's that carried passengers and freight between Chicago and Buffalo. It later became the property of the Grummond Line and was placed on a route between Detroit and Mackinaw City. Those were the years when the ship was a regular visitor at ports along the Lake Huron shoreline. After 33 faithful years of service, the ATLANTIC's days seemed to be numbered. While the ship was left moored and neglected for two years at Detroit, from 1897 to 1899. it was racked by two fires that left it in ruins.
The ship had fallen into such disgrace, the final fire on Aug. 26, 1899 brought only a brief notice on the inside pages of the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper said the fire started from unknown causes at 9:15 p.m. and before it was out. the ATLANTIC was, "but the mere skeleton of her former self." The writer noted. that "the damage could not have been great for the boat left the arena of her usefulness years ago."
The nation was growing fast in 1899 and lumber from the forests along the Great Lakes was in demand. Consequently, there was a shortage of boats to haul the lumber. Anything that floated was put into service. It should not be surprising, then, that the hull of the old ATLANTIC was repaired. and the ship rebuilt as a lumber hooker. The vessel was back in service by 1901 under the name HOMER WARREN. The WARREN served American lumber interests until 1914, when the ship was sold to Canadian owners. It was carrying coal from Oswego, N.Y. to Toronto. Ontario. when the 56-year-old hull opened up and the boat foundered with all hands on Lake Ontario on Oct. 28. 1919.
Killed in the sinking were Capt. William Stocker, his brother. George. first mate: brothers George and Joseph Kerr. and sailors Patrick Howe. Stanley Foste. William Talbot, and two other unknown men who signed on at Oswego for the trip.
Wreckage and four bodies from the WARREN floated ashore at Sodus Point, N.Y.