The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Thomas A. Smith (Propeller), U145284, sunk by collision, 11 Nov 1893

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Chicago, Nov. 11 - The stmr. ARTHUR ORR collided with and sunk the steam barge THOMAS A. SMITH, off Racine at 3:30 this morning.
The crew of the SMITH were rescued without loss of life and were brought here on the ORR. The SMITH was commanded by Capt. Thomas Olson and the ORR by Capt. Montague. The SMITH was bound from this port to Menominee to load lumber and the ORR was running light from Milwaukee here. The dense fog which hung over the lake caused the accident. When first seen by the crew of the ORR the SMITH was 300 ft. away. The engines were reversed, but it was too late and she struck the SMITH a little aft the port hatch and cut in about 3 feet. Boats were lowered from both steamers at once, and the 12 men which formed the SMITH's crew were all rescued without trouble. The SMITH was owned by A. Leatham and Smith of Sturgeon Bay and was worth about $15,000. She was built at Manitowoc in 1881.
      Detroit News-Tribune
      November 12, 1893

      . . . . .

Nov. 10, 1893. Stmr. THOMAS A. SMITH sunk by collision off Racine. Value $18,000. Capacity 300 gross tons. Owned by Leatham & Smith. Home port, Sturgeon Bay.
      Lake Vessels Which Passed Out of
      Existence in the Season of 1893
      Marine Review, December 14, 1893

      . . . . .

      Another Collision Case with a Division of Damages
It would seem that the vessel captain who will stop and back his engines every time there is the remotest possibility of a collision of any kind will best serve his owners, or the underwriters carrying a risk on the vessel. Another collision case, that of the Leatham & Smith Wrecking & Towing Co. of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., owners of the steamer THOMAS H. SMITH, against C. W. Elphicke & Co. of Chicago, owners of the steamer ARTHUR ORR, has resulted in a division of damages. The decree is from United States District judge Seaman of Milwaukee. The collision in which the SMITH was sunk occurred near Racine, Wis., on the night of Nov. 11, 1893, in a dense fog. The ORR had been fitted up for world's fair passenger traffic, and was on her first trip as a freight steamer, after her temporary cabins had been removed at Milwaukee, when the collision occurred. The owners of the Smith sued for $25,000.
In ordering a division of damages judge Seaman held that the ORR had been traveling too fast and was at fault in that she did not stop when she failed to clearly understand the SMITH's signals, On the other hand, the SMITH had failed to stop when she heard the ORR's signals, and instead, had ported and swung across the ORR's bows. She should have waited until she fully understood the ORR's signals before changing her course. Under the circumstances he could not hold that it was a maneuver in extremis, which could be excused. An interesting point was raised by counsel for SMITH to prove negligence and responsibility on the part of the ORR. The collision occurred, as stated, in a dense fog. The SMITH left Chicago before the fog settled down, but the Orr left Milwaukee in the thick of it. The point raised was that the master of the ORR had been guilty of negligence in leaving port in a fog. judge Seaman decided that it was not negligence. He said that he was satisfied that leaving port in a fog could not be held to be per se negligence. The law as he understood it allowed a vessel to leave in a fog, but constrained her to the utmost care to avoid collisions.
      Marine Review
      July 18, 1895
In the United States District court Judge Seaman sustained the report of Commissioner Kurtz in the matter of division of damages growing out of the sinking of the steamer THOMAS H. SMITH by the steamer ARTHUR ORR off Racine North Point several season ago. According to the report of Commissioner Krutz the owners of the steamer ORR must pay to the Leatham & Smith Towing and Wrecking Company $10,000 damages with interest from November 11, 1893.
      Evening Wisconsin
      November 5, 1896

Steam screw THOMAS H. SMITH. U. S. No. 145284. Of 281.11 tons gross; 198.10 tons net. Built Manitowoc, Wis., 1881. Home port, Milwaukee, Wis. 130.0 x 27.0 x 11.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1891

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $18,000
Freight: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 42.72613 Longitude: -87.78285
William R. McNeil
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Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Thomas A. Smith (Propeller), U145284, sunk by collision, 11 Nov 1893