The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
City of Venice (Propeller), U126885, sunk by collision, 4 Aug 1902

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      Cleveland, Aug. 5. - As a result of a collision on Lake Erie between the CITY OF VENICE and the steamer SEGUIN, a steel lumber vessel, off Rondeau, Canada, last night, just after midnight, the former vessel was sunk and three lives were lost, while several persons were more or less seriously injured.
      The drowned:
      Peter Simondson, fireman, Brooklyn, N. Y.
      Thomas Flanigan, deckhand, Buffalo.
      George Weir, watchman, residence unknown.
      John Sullival, Chicago, contusion of back; will probably die.
      J.A. McDougal, Cheboygan, Mich., engineer City Of Venice, arm injured and body badly bruised.
      Louis Hubecker, Cheboygan, Mich., head and back badly bruised.
The cause of the collision is not known. There was no fog whatever, and the night was fairly clear. The lights of the CITY OF VENICE were burning brightly. The second mate of the SEGUIN, W.A. Levigne, who was on watch, refused absolutely to give any information about the accident. "The less said about it the better," was his only remark.
      The CITY OF VENICE, laden with 3,600 tons of ore, was bound to Buffalo, while the SEGUIN was going north to Parry Sound from Ogdensburg. On board the SEGUIN all were asleep save Lavigne, and a watchman with him in the pilot house. The first mate of the VENICE, Sullivan, was on watch aboard that boat. He is now in the hospital.
      The SEGUIN struck the VENICE fairly amidship, and plowed her way half through the boat.
      All those who were sleeping rushed out on deck, and there was a frightened panic for a time. The VENICE was sinking rapidly. Capt. Broderick ran on deck in his sleeping robes and called to the men to man the life boat. The members of the crew who had not been hurt rushed to his assistance, and in five minutes they had the boat in the water. Several of the men threw themselves overboard, but they were picked up by the life boats from the SEGUIN. The CITY OF VENICE went down in very deep water in less than 15 minutes after the collision occurred. After standing by for an hour the SEGUIN headed for Cleveland with the survivors, arriving here early today.
      The CITY OF VENICE was a wooden vessel, 301 feet long and 42 feet beam. She was owned by the McGraw Transportation Company of Bay City, Mich., and valued at about $175,000. She was commanded by Captain Broderick.
      The SEGUIN is an iron vessel, 207 feet long and 34 feet beam. She is owned by J.B. Miller of Parry Sound, and commanded by Capt. J.B. Sims.
      Although a wooden vessel, the CITY OF VENICE is given the highest rating by the Inland Lloyds. She was built in West Bay City in 1892 by James Davidson, and is owned by the T. McGRAW Company. Her dimensions are - 301 feet over all, 42 feet breadth, and 20 feet depth, with a gross tonnage of 2103.
      The CITY OF VENICE cleared from Ashland last Friday with 3200 tons of iron ore for the Lehigh dock in this city. Capt. Edward Smith of Brown & Company, manager of the vessel, left here for Cleveland on the first train available after receiving news of the accident.
      She was insured for $75,000 and the policies were placed by Smith, Davis & Co., and Worthington & Sill of this city and Underwriters in other cities. Capt. Smith said this morning that the policies were with the owners at Bay City and that he could not tell the companies involved in the loss.
      The vessel is rated at $80,000 in Lloyd's Register, and is worth much more. Capt. Smith received a dispatch which said that the vessel was resting on a muddy bottom and it may be possible, if the hole stove in her by the collision did not cut her in two, to raise her.
      Buffalo Evening News
      August 5, 1902

      The steamer CITY OF VENICE was sunk in collision with the steamer SEGUIN 50 miles off Cleveland and off Rondeau Ont. at 12:30 this morning. Three of the crew of the CITY OF VENICE were drowned. The CITY OF VENICE was bound from the upper lakes to Buffalo. The SUGUIN was bound up light. The two boats came together in the darkness. The iron boat struck the wooden one a little forward of amidships and sheared a great hole below the water line.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, August 5, 1902
      . . . . .

Four of the sailors of the lost steamer CITY OF VENICE arrived in the city early this morning. They tell a thrilling story of the wreck. The men are Jonathan E. Cox, Flanigan, Cottrel and "Pete," the fireman. Many of the details of the disaster are told by Mr. Cox.
      Cox had come off watch at midnight and had just gone below to smoke a pipe before turning in. He had just put down his pipe and taken off his clothes when he was aroused by two sharp whistles. He says:
      " I was just getting sleepy when I heard the whistle blow sharply twice. I thought that it was very strange to have them sound the starboard signal in mistake. I knew that it would be nothing out of the ordinary for them to starboard in the river, but we were well out in the lake and I could not account for it.
      "I sprang out of my bunk with nothing on but my shirt. Running on to the deck I saw the SEGUIN looming up, apparently right on top of us. We were loaded pretty deep with ore and the SEGUIN stood well over us. I saw at once that she would hit us between the fore and main rigging.
      "Shouting to several other men, I ran forward of the place she would hit us. I had scarcely reached there when the shock came. The SEGUIN was running at a pretty fair speed and the blow was a most powerful one. As soon as she hit us the SEGUIN bore away under her own steam for about 200 yards. Her engines were then stopped.
      "All hands were awakened by the shock and in a minute all were on the main deck, most of them with nothing on but their shirts. Capt. Broderick saw at once that the boat would sink, and he gave orders for the lowering of the life boat.
      "I ran and cut the after lashings of the boat and someone else cut the others and in a shorter space than it takes to tell it, she was ready for launching. I ran back to the cabin to get my trousers. When I again reached the deck the boat had left the CITY OF VENICE with about half the crew. Someone shouted from her, "We are sinking, throw us something to bail with." I then threw them a pail.
      "By that time the CITY OF VENICE was down pretty well in the water and it was only a question of seconds before she would be gone.
      "With a couple of other men I ran to another boat, and cutting the lashings, we swung clear of the davits just as we felt the VENICE lurch. The next minute we were all in the water.
      "The top of the deck house was torn off, and when I came up I noticed three other men on top of it. I threw aside my life-preserver and swam to it. As I climbed on top of it I saw Cottrell swimming some distance away in the water with our pet bulldog in his arms. they both were saved.
      "From the time that we were struck to the minute she went down I should say was about seven minutes, so you may be sure there was little time left for any of us to save a thing. Most of the men had nothing on but their shirts. I was lucky enough to get a pair of trousers.
      "We are now looking for poor Tom Flanigan's sister, who lives in Buffalo. He was also known as Coleman. We thought that all would get away in safety, as we had two boats out and the SEGUIN had one. It was so sudden though, you know, and we had to hurry so to save ourselves that we could not take time to count up the men.
      "Everybody listened to Capt. Broderick. He kept perfectly cool and was one of the last to leave the ship. He is still in Cleveland looking after the interests of his company and the men who were drowned. Mate Sullivan is in a very desperate condition. His back is one mass of black and blue flesh. The doctors in the hospital have not determined whether his back is broken or not."
      Buffalo Evening News
      August 7, 1902

      . . . . .

      Capt. Davis of the steamer MILWAUKEE, who arrived in port Wednesday, believe that he sighted the wreck of the steamer CITY OF VENICE. He communicated at once with the Lake Carriers' Association, that the masters of vessels might be warned of the wreck. Capt. Davis reports it lying directly in the course of vessels bound to Buffalo, and as it is now it is a menace to navigation.
      Buffalo Evening News
      August 8, 1902

      . . . . .

      That the steamer CITY OF VENICE will ever be raised or that any part of her cargo will be saved seems improbable. The boat is lying in about 60 feet of water. She was heavily loaded with ore and the cost of raising the ore and the boat and towing her to port would more than eat up the loss that will be sustained by the owners.
While at present the owners stand to lose the entire value over the insurance. They will probably recover all or a part of their loss from the owners of the SEGUIN. An action will be brought against the owners of that vessel. Statements have been taken from the members of the crew and they will be used in the investigation.
      Buffalo Evening News
      August 9, 1902

      . . . . .
Notices have been sent out that most of the wreck of the CITY OF VENICE has been removed and that it is no longer dangerous. The STEVENS has been marked with an ordinary fish buoy. The wreck of the BARR is also supposed to be in the Detroit-Buffalo course and is another source of danger.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 27, 1902

Steam screw CITY OF VENICE. U. S. No. 126885. Of 2107 tons gross; 1771 tons net. Built West Bay City, Mich., 1892. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 301.0 x 42.5 x 20.1 Crew of 16. 1000 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1902
Steamer CITY OF NENICE, sunk in Lake Erie had her spar removed by Canadian Govt. vessel PETREL during 1902.
      Report of Dept. of Marine & Fisheries for1903

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: 3
Freight: ore
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.2975 Longitude: -81.888611
William R. McNeil
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City of Venice (Propeller), U126885, sunk by collision, 4 Aug 1902