The shipyards are busy places nowadays. There are more vessels in winter quarters at Buffalo this year than at any other port on the lakes, and more than were ever laid up here before. During the winter, or before spring, nearly all those vessels will undergo repairs more or less extensive, and this is why these companies are working by gangs of men early and late.
The Union Dry Dock, next to Mills, is equally rushed. Men and horses are hauling great timbers and sheets of steel through the mud to various places, while the big black forms of two steel steamers loom up in the docks. The first is the mammoth Erie Liner CHEMUNG. At first sight nothing in particular seems to be the matter with her, but inquiry revels the fact that the vessel lost her rudder in a storm during the latter part of the season. She will have a new one, besides other repairs.
The other steamer is the BRAZIL, which ran into and sank the steamer SAMUEL MATHER last fall, thereby giving her own stern a bad twist.
January 4, 1892
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Sunday night's (11/15) southeaster was quite severe on this lake, and at least one disaster resulted therefrom. A dispatch from Capt. J.McCullough of the schr. MONTCALM, dated at Selkirk, Ont., received yesterday afternoon by Smith, Davis & Co. stated that the vessel was dismasted at 11:00 P.M. Sunday when off Long Pt., that she sprang a leak, and he was compelled to beach her a short distance from Selkirk, which is about 12 miles east of Port Dover. Capt. McCullough added the good news that the crew was safe.
This however, was only part of the story of disaster. From Erie came information that the stm. CHEMUNG of the Union Line had lost her rudder and shoe while trying to take the crew off the sinking vessel in a heavy sea, and that the CHEMUNG was safe under Peninsular Pt. How she reached shelter in her disabled condition was not learned at the time. When Capt. P. Griffin arrived here at dark with the stm. C.S. PARNELL, this point was made clear. Capt. Griffin reported that he saw the CHEMUNG rolling in a big sea, about 25 miles below, at 7:00 yesterday morning, and flying a distress flag. As is his usual custom he made for the disabled steamer, got a line from her, and, not without considerable trouble, towed her into Erie. Capt. Griffin had performed several rescues previously in similar fashion and really deserves recognition as a saver of life and property.
Later advice said that one man from the MONTCALM swam ashore, and the other 5 were rescued by a life saving crew. The wind was south after the CHEMUNG was forced to abandon the schooner. The big steamer made 3 attempts to reach the MONTCALM, and each time paid off. On the 3rd trial, undoubtably a sea struck her rudder broadside, and snapped it of. Capt. Robinson heard cries for rescue from the vessels crew, who naturally believed she would soon go down. It was fortunate that the MONTCALM leaked so slowly that she could reach the lee shore. Otherwise the whole crew probably would have been drowned.
Buffalo Daily Courier
November 17, 1891 2-1
The schr. MONTCALM is no more. She was coming down Lake erie with ore for Tonawanda and struck the southeast gale. This carried away all her canvas and Capt. McCullough finding that the schooner was leaking beached her on the Canada shore off Selkirk, this side of Long Pt., where it is reported she has gone to pieces. The men all got ashore. The MONTCALM was on the fast disappearing class of canal schooners, measured 282 tons and was built at Clayton in 1867. She was owned by the Rochester Transportation Co., classed B! and was valued at $4,500. She was insured.
Probably the most serious loss was the Union Line prop. CHEMUNG, which lost her rudder in trying to save the MONTCALM. Capt. Robinson, left here at 7:00 P.M. on Sunday and finding the MONTCALM in distress, tried to save her, but in some way not known here he became almost totally disabled by the loss of the steamer's rudder. The wind was high and the CHEMUNG was in critical condition, but by what must have been remarkably good handling, she was brought across the lake under the peninsula at Erie, from which point Capt. Robinson wired manager Bullard late yesterday.
The other 3 barges of the Rochester fleet are all safe here. The captain of the MOTT, arrived last, reports that he was in company with the MONTCALM as lat as 9:00 Sunday night (11/15), but lost her in the darkness.
Manager Hitchcock of the Rochester fleet said he should send out only the MOTT again. The BOODY and MOREY were leaking quite badly and he would not ask anyboady to take them out again. Such a night as they passed on Lake Erie coming down was enough to wreck more than 1 of 4. The ore in the MONTCALM would be sure to hold her to the shore till she was pulled to pieces. Her insurance was $3,500.
Buffalo Daily Courier
November 19, 1891
Steam screw CHEMUNG.* U. S. No. 126495. Of 3,061 tons gross; 1,848 tons net. Built at Buffalo, N.Y., in 1888. Home port, New York, N.Y. 326.7 x 41.2 x 23.2 Freight service. Crew of 17. Of 1,000 indicated horse power.
* formerly Steam screw [a] CHEMUNG, [b] GEORGE F. BROWNELL.
Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1916