The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
James J. Hill (Propeller), U77409, collision, 26 Jun 1916

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      Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., June 27. - The steamer JAMES J. HILL of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company of Cleveland arrived here today with the crew of the steamer PANTHER, owned by the Massey Steamship Company of Duluth. The HILL collided with the PANTHER in a dense fog late last night of the Persian Island in Whitefish Bay. The latter steamer sunk.
      The PANTHER was a wooden steamer, 236 feet length of keel, thirty- six feet beam, twenty-four feet deep and she was built in 1890. She was recently bought by the Massey Steamship Company, of which Capt. Chester Massey is president.
      The PANTHER was on her way to Buffalo from this port with a cargo of grain. She had just left the drydock at Port Arthur and carried a crew of sixteen.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      June 28, 1916

The wooden grain freighter PANTHER is one of a lost fleet of ships, lying at the bottom of Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay. The PANTHER came to a quick and unexpected end when it was struck amidships by the ore carrier J.J. HILL off Parisian Island. The accident happened in dense fog at 10:30 p.m. on June 26, 1916. Nobody was hurt because Capt. George Randolph, master of the HILL kept his wits. Knowing his ship had just struck a fatal blow when it collided with the smaller wooden hulled boat, Randolph left the HILL's steel bow buried in the hole in the side of the PANTHER until every member of the sinking boat's crew had the time to jump to the HILL's deck.
Randolph was lauded for saving lives. That his boat rammed and the PANTHER seemed to have been forgotten, or at least forgiven by the newspapers of the day. They said that the moment Randolph gave his engineer the order to back the HILL the flooded PANTHER capsized and sank in about 100 feet of water.
'The HILL which was only lightly damaged, took the crew of the PANTHER back to Sault Ste. Marie where the accident was reported.
It was an uneven contest to say the least.
The HILL, which was steaming up empty, was a 478-foot-long steel ship. while the 26- year Old PANTHER was a wooden boat measuring 236 feet. The PANTHER had been purchased by the Massey Steamship Co. of Fort William, Ont. and put in the grain trade less than a month before the accident. The boat was loaded with 65,000 bushels of wheat, bound from Fort William to Midland, Ont.
The PANTHER was among a large fleet of wooden boats built at West Bay City. It was launched in 1890. (James Donahue's shipwreck column)
      Port Huron Daily Tribune
      November 4, 1996

      Steam screw JAMES J. HILL. U. S. No. 77409. Of 6,025 gross tons; 4,578 tons net. Built Lorain, Ohio 1900. Home port, Duluth, Minn. 478.0 x 52.0 x 30.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1901

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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.684444 Longitude: -84.729166
William R. McNeil
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James J. Hill (Propeller), U77409, collision, 26 Jun 1916