The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Howard Johnson (Propeller), boiler explosion, 16 Jul 1867

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The tug JOHNSON exploded its boiler in the Saginaw River last night. Capt. Rafferty and three men were killed. The boat, which was a new one, is a total loss.
      Buffalo Post
      Friday, July 19, 1867

      . . . . .

      East Saginaw, July 18 - The new tug H. JOHNSON, of Bay City, owned by Lapham & Johnson, exploded her boiler while passing the Carrollton Cut, about 11:00 last night. Seven persons were on board of her at the time of the explosion, 4 of whom were killed and 3 badly wounded and scalded. The names of the killed are Captain Alexander Rafferty, of Bay City, who has a wife living there; Fireman Frank Day, of Bay City; George H. Johnson, part owner of the tug, of Bay City, and the master, Frank Lapham, of this city. The wounded are: Zach Lapham, engineer of this city, badly bruised and scalded, but it is thought not fatally; John McCaifrey, deck hand, of Bay City, and a small boy named Smith, a son of Capt. Smith of Bay City.
      The tug JOHNSON was new, having been in commission only 5 days. She was built at Bay City this season by Lapham & Johnson, who had all their means invested in her. She was valued at $15,000, and is almost a total loss. The cause of the explosion is supposed to have been a lack of water in her boiler which was foaming at the time, showing 4 gauges of water, thus deceiving the engineer.
      Since writing the above, Rafferty's body has been recovered, and will be sent to Bay City. The other bodies are still in the river, which is being raked by a force in charge of Sheriff Rankin, who was taken to the wreck by the tug DEFIANCE.
      Detroit Post
      July 19, 1867
      . . . . .

      NOTE - The Lytle - Holdcamper List gives 1968 as the year of the explosion and with 7 dead ?

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Reason: boiler explosion
Lives: 4
Remarks: Total loss ?
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.41947 Longitude: -83.95081
William R. McNeil
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Howard Johnson (Propeller), boiler explosion, 16 Jul 1867