The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Ogdensburg (Propeller), sunk by collision, 30 Sep 1864


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The Cleveland Herald has the particulars of a fatal collision last Friday night (9/30), between the prop. OGDENSBURG and the schr. SNOWBIRD, resulting in the sinking of the former in a few minutes. About 11:30, when about 8 or 10 miles off Fairport, Capt. Tyler saw a green light towards shore, and supposed it to be the starboard light of a propeller passing up the lake on the inside. The OGDENSBURG's helm was but a little to starboard, and he hauled out a little into the lake. In a few minutes red and green lights were seen, and Capt. Tyler discovered that it was a vessel rapidly approaching him. The propeller was headed still more out into the lake, but the vessel changed her course in the same direction, and immediately struck the propeller on the starboard bow, and she immediately commenced sinking. The passengers and crew took to the boats and reached Fairport in safety.
It will be remembered that a few years since the OGDENSBURG, collided with the steamer ATLANTIC, not many miles from where the collision of friday night occurred, by which one of the most awful catastrophies occurred that has ever taken place on our lakes. Now the OGDENSBURG is sent to the bottom by a similar cause, but fortunately without the loss of a single life, so far as known.
This disaster is another proof of the great blunder committed in passing a law changing the whole code of marine signals in the middle of the season of navigation, when the proper signals cannot be obtained by one-half of the vessels needing them.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      October 3, 1864 3-2


Another disaster occurred on the lake, on Friday night. the prop. OGDENSBURG, Capt. L.M. Tyler, belonging to the Northern Transportation Co., left Cleveland about 8:00, bound for Ogdensburg. She had on board 2 female and 3 male passengers, and 2,500 bushels of wheat, nearly half of the freight being from Detroit, and the rest from Cleveland.
      Between 11:00 and 12:00, when about 8 or 10 miles off Fairport, Capt. Tyler saw a green light towards shore, and took it to be the starboard light of a propeller passing up the lake on the inside tack. He put the OGDENSBURG's helm to starboard, and made out into the lake. Red and green lights were soon seen, and the Captain saw that a vessel was fast approaching him. The propeller headed still more out into the lake, but the schooner changed her tack in the same direction, and in a twinkling struck the propeller a heavy blow on the starboard bow, by which she was completely cut open, and she sank in a short time. All on board were saved.
      Painesville Telegraph
      October 6, 1864 2-5


The tug DOBBINS returned from her second visit to the wreck of the propeller OGDENSBURG. She found no more flour, or other articles belonging to the wrecked propeller, but discovered the hull of the boat about 6 miles off Fairport, in 10 fathoms of water.
A Canadian vessel picked up and brought to this port 17 barrels of flour. It was turned over to the owners, who allowed the finder a liberal salvage. - Cleveland Dealer - 7th.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      October 7, 1864 2-5


On Friday night last the prop. OGDENSBURG, Capt. Tyler, belonging to the Northern Transportation Co. of Cleveland at 7:30, bound for Ogdensburg. She was loaded principally with flour and grain, and had on board 4 passengers, and a crew of 24, in all 28 persons. Among the number were 4 ladies.
About 11:30 when off Fairport, the propeller was run into by the schr. SNOW BIRD, and sunk almost immediately. Fortunately all the passengers and crew were saved.
The Cleveland Herald, from which paper we gather these particulars, was furnished with the following facts by Capt. Tyler in relation to the disaster:
      Capt. Tyler's Statement
The OGDENSBURG left Cleveland last evening (Friday) about 8:00, with 2 lady and 3 male passengers, and 2,500 bushels of wheat, nearly half of the freight being from Detroit, and the remainder from this city.
      About 11:30 when about 8 or 10 miles off Fairport, Capt. Tyler saw a green light towards shore, and supposed it to be the starboard light of a propeller passing up the lake on the inside. The OGDENSBURG's helm was but a little to starboard, and he hauled out a little into the lake. In a few minutes red and green lights were seen, and Capt. Tyler discovered that it was a vessel rapidly approaching him. The propeller was headed still more out into the lake, but the vessel changed her course in the same direction, and immediately struck the propeller on the starboard bow.
      The vessel was the SNOW BIRD, Capt. Wicks, bound up the lake, and running before a strong north-east breeze. On seeing the lights of the OGDENSBURG, Capt. Wicke put his helm hard a port, which, instead of clearing the propeller, ran the schooner directly into her. After striking the propeller the SNOW BIRD came around to the starboard, and making a complete circle, ran up the lake before the wind, reaching this port this morning, very slightly injured in the hull, but with her bowsprit broken in pieces.
As soon as the OGDENSBURG was struck she commenced sinking. Capt. Tyler headed her towards the shore and lowered the boats. The passengers, except one man and the woman belonging to the propeller were put into the first boat with a proper crew, and pushed off. The second boat was lowered and filled with most of the remainder of the crew and the other passengers.
By this time the propeller had sunk with her main deck to the level of the water. The engineer, watchman and deck hands, who, with the captain, remained on the sinking vessel, jumped into the last boat, and as the propeller sunk Capt. Tyler got into the boat and she floated off as the OGDENSBURG went down. All the officers, crew and passengers arrived safely on shore.
Mr. J.J. Wilson a clerk in the bookstore of J.B. Cobb & Co., of Cleveland, who was a passenger on the ill-fated propeller says that Capt. Tyler acted perfectly cool and brave during the whole of the exciting time, as did all his officers and crew. After getting all those on board the propeller into the small boats, and seeing that nothing more could be saved or done for the fast sinking craft, Capt. Tyler, the last man on the wreck, got into the life-boat; but he was none too soon, as the stern was already touched the bottom, and in a minute more the OGDENSBURG was at the bottom of Lake Erie, and all those that were on board on their way to the shore.
The OGDENSBURG was one of the small class of the N.T. Co.'s propellers, and had been on the line about 12 years. She was considered a good boat in every respect. She was insured, as was most of her cargo. It will be remembered that a few years since the OGDENSBURG, collided with the steamer ATLANTIC, not many miles from where the collision of friday night occurred, by which one of the most awful catastrophies occurred that has ever taken place on our lakes. Now the OGDENSBURG is sent to the bottom by a similar cause, but fortunately without the loss of a single life, so far as known.
If any argument were needed to point out the folly of putting the recent law, changing the whole code of marine signals, into operation in the middle of the season, when it is absolutely impossible for half the vessels to obtain the proper signals, this disaster would furnish the best illustration of it. It should have begun with the opening of next season's navigation, then vessel owners and masters would have had the whole winter in which to prepare for it, and supply themselved with the needed lights and signals. We know that strenous efforts have been made by some of our prominent underwriters to induce our mariners to familiarize themselves with the change in the law. Capt. D.P. Dobbins, General Agent of the Home Ins. Co., and Capt. E.P. Dorr, General Agent of the Aetna, have each issued and circulated freely, at their own expense, neat editions of the law, in a form convenient for instant reference. We are not aware of any reluctance has been exhibited by captains or owners to adopt the new code. The trouble is that sufficient time was not allowed after the prormulgation of the law before it should go into effect, to enable the parties concerned to supply themselves with the articles needed, and to study the changes involved. It takes time to bring about an entire alteration of navigation lights and signals. Vessel masters have to forget what it has taken years to make themselves thoroughly familiar with, as well as to learn something entirely new to supply the place of what is necessary for them to learn. The fact that it would have been better on every account that the new law should not have become operative until the beginning of next season, is so apparent, that we are surprised it did not occur to our worthy representatives, whose opinion on such matters would undoubtedly have had great weight in Congress, and would probably have settled the question of time for putting the law into effect.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      October 3, 1864 3-1



The propeller OGDENSBURG, commanded by Capt. Tyler, bound from Cleveland to Odgensburg with a cargo of flour and grain, was sunk by collision with the schooner SNOWBIRD off Fairport. Vessel a total loss.
      Toronto Globe
      October 5, 1864

      . . . . .

Propeller OGDENSBURG, of 352 tons. Built 1852. Collided with SNOW BIRD Sept. 30, 1864 off Fairport. Total loss. No lives lost.
      Losses of U.S. Merchant Steam Vessels
      1790 - 1868, Lytle - Holdcamper List

      . . . . .


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Freight: flour, grain
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1864
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.15300
Language of Item:
English
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.75004 Longitude: -81.27399
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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Ogdensburg (Propeller), sunk by collision, 30 Sep 1864