The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
William Penn, aground, 21 May 1836

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      During the very dense fog which shrouded the Lake on Saturday morning, the steamboat UNITED STATES, which left this harbor on Friday evening last, for Detroit, when about four miles above Portland, struck upon a sunken rock, which stove in her bottom, and caused her to rapidly sink.......
      The steamboat WILLIAM PENN, also went on shore, about the same time, a few miles below Erie; being an old vessel, it is feared she will become a total wreck. When the THOMAS JEFFERSON, bound for this port, passed yesterday, the passengers had mostly gone ashore. As far as we have as yet been able to learn no lives have been lost in either case.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Monday, May 30, 1836 p.2, c.3

      . . . . .

      We have much pleasure in announcing that the steam boat accidents during the fog on Lake Erie, have been less extensive than was at first anticipated; the WILLIAM PENN having been got off, has resumed her voyage. The UNITED STATE has been, after lightening her loading, equally fortunate, and is now under repair in our harbor. We hope shortly to intimate that she is again in active operation.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Wednesday, June 1, 1836 p.2, c.2

      . . . . .

STEAMBOAT ACCIDENTS. -- The steamboat UNITED STATES which left Buffalo on Friday evening for the Upper Lakes, struck upon a rock in a fog on Saturday morning, about four miles above Portland Harbor, and sunk in about eight feet water. The passengers, an unusually large number of whom were on board, the crew and the cargo, were with some difficulty safely landed on the beach. By the unwearied exertion of capt. Hart, and his crew, she has since been raised, and, on Tuesday evening, arrived in Buffalo in tow of the NORTH AMERICA. She will be able to resume her trips in about ten days.
The steamboat WILLIAM PENN went on shore the same morning a Few miles below Erie, but fortunately got off the same day without material damage.
      Black Rock Advocate
      June 2, 1836, p. 3, c, 1

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Remarks: Got off
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Pennsylvania, United States
    Latitude: 42.12922 Longitude: -80.08506
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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William Penn, aground, 21 May 1836