The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John S. Richards (Schooner), U75151, sunk by collision, 1 Aug 1900

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      Detroit, Aug. 1. - At 1:35 o'clock this morning the schooner J.S. RICHARDS was run into and almost instantly sunk by the steel steamer JOHN W. MOORE, about 500 feet from off the Walkerville dock, and two sailors asleep in the forecastle were sent down to death with their boat.
      The RICHARDS and the LAKE FOREST were being towed down the lakes to southern ports on Lake Erie by the tug CRESSELL, in charge of Capt. Harndon. The RICHARDS was in the middle with a long tow line connecting her with the tug and the FOREST. Upbound, close under the Canadian shore, was the steamer MOORE, loaded with coal. So wide a space separated the boats that no whistles were blown. By continuing on her course the MOORE would pass several hundred feet to the east of the tow. Instead of so doing, something went wrong on the upbound boat, according to the statements of the men on the tow and the MOORE sheered far to port and headed straight for the tow. The tug CRESSELL passed her in safety, but the RICHARDS, coming up under the swift lead of the tug and the force of the current, was struck a crushing blow by the big steamer on the port bow just at the timber heads.
      There was no time for an examination of the injury. The MOORE backed away and almost immediately the RICHARDS lurched over on her injured side, trembled a second as a wrecked mast crashed down to the deck, and then shot downward beneath the black waters of the deep channel. No man had time to grab his belongings. All but two of the six sailors on the schooner rushed for the rigging and clambered up the mast that was still standing.
The dead : John Ives, sailor, Sandusky 32 years old, wife and two children.
      John Kelly, sailor, Rochester, N. Y., 40 years old, single.
The CRESSELL, turning about, rescued the imperiled crew, and landed the captain, Anthony T. May; the mate, A. Eason; cook Catharine Davis and seaman Peter Janson at the foot of Woodward Avenue about 3 o'clock this morning.
      The J.S. RICHARDS is one of the old time canal boats. She is of 259 tons burden, 138 feet long, and was built in 1869. Capt. Anthony T. May has owned her for 12 years and valued her at $6,000. This winter he laid her up at the foot of Ropeller Street and rebuilt her at a cost of $1,000. No insurance was carried on the boat, and she represents almost the total of Capt. May's fortune.
      The MOORE is owned in Cleveland. She is built of steel, is rated at 1,689 tons, and is 246 feet long. She was built at Toledo in 1890, and is engaged in the ore and coal carrying trade. As a result of the collision last night she sustained minor damages and reported that she was leaking. Soon after the accident, after all needs of assistance was past, she headed up stream, her pumps being sufficient to keep down the water.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      August 2, 1900

      The Underwriters have hired H.W. Baker, of this city, to raise the pig iron out of the hull of the schooner JOHN S, RICHARDS, sunk off Walkerville, and after completing the job he will also undertake to patch the hull and raise it with pontoons. Unless the hull is entirely demolished forward it ought to come up easily, as it is small and light. Sidewheelers and fast propellers, in fact all boats that create heavy seas, will be asked to slow down when passing the wreck. Let a few more craft go to the bottom between Lake Erie and Lake Huron and it will be difficult for anything to make schedule time with the frequent slow-downs.
      The steel steamer JOHN W. MOORE, which sank the RICHARDS, is in dry dock at West Superior. In spite of the reticence of her master, crew and owners, the details of her damage are gradually leaking out, and they show she is badly cracked up about the bow. The fall of one of the schooner's masts nearly demolished the MOORE's after cabin and other parts of her upper works, including a spar; the stem is worthless, and parts of both bows will need re-rolled and entirely new plates. She will be in dock six days or longer.
      Detroit Free Press
      August 12, 1900

Captain Horace Baker, who has been removing the wreck of the schooner J.S. RICHARDS from the Canadian channel, near Detroit, succeeded in getting the hulk entirely out of the way Thursday. The wreck has been pulled onto the shoals at the foot of Belle Isle and the channel is now clear. The Dominion government officials have accordingly surrendered the cargo of pig iron which was taken off the RICHARDS, and it is being loaded on the schooner MONGUAGON and will be taken to Buffalo. It is expected that a search of the hull will result in finding the body of one of the two seamen who were drowned when the RICHARDS sank.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      September 30, 1900

Walter Oades, after having made a survey of the wreck of the schooner J.S. RICHARDS on the middle-ground below Belle Island bridge, Detroit river, report the hull is damaged beyond repair.
      Detroit Free Press
      October 8, 1900

      . . . . .
RIG: Schooner
LOA: 137.9
BEAM: 26.8
DEPTH: 11.8
GROSS: 311.24 (1870; 1871; 1872; 1873; 1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879; 1880; 1880-81; 1882; 1883);
273.41 (1884; 1885
NET: 259.94 (1884); 259.74 (1885
CITY: Cleveland
HOME PORT: Erie, PA (1870; 1871; 1872; 1873; 1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879); Buffalo, NY (1880); Erie,
PA (1880-81; 1882; 1883); Cleveland, OH (1884; 1885
YEARS LISTED: 1870; 1871; 1872; 1873; 1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879; 1880; 1880-81; 1882; 1883; 1884;

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: 2
Freight: pig iron
Remarks: Total loss
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Language of Item:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.31678 Longitude: -82.99984
William R. McNeil
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John S. Richards (Schooner), U75151, sunk by collision, 1 Aug 1900