The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Grand Traverse (Propeller), U91129, sunk by collision, 19 Oct 1896

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      Large Three-Masted Barge Run Down at Colchester This Morning
      Owned by Capt. M. M. Drake--Her Crew saved.
Amherstburg, Ont., Oct. 19. - The GRAND TRAVERSE, from Marine City, Mich., a large three-masted barge, owned by Capt. M. M. Drake of Buffalo, N. Y., was run down by the LIVINGSTONE of Wyandotte, Mich., in the channel three miles east of Colchester, Ontario, early this morning.
      The GRAND TRAVERSE sank quickly, but the crew was rescued and brought in here at 11 o'clock.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Monday, October 19, 1896
      . . . . .

      Steamer GRAND TRAVERSE Run Down By Steamer LIVINGSTONE.
      Amherstburg, Ont., Oct.19. -- The steamer GRAND TRAVERSE of the Lackawanna line and the steamer LIVINGSTONE collided early this morning near Colchester Light. The GRAND TRAVERSE sank immediately, the crew being taken off by the LIVINGSTONE. There is now nothing to be seen of the sunken craft but her spars and smokestack. The LIVINGSTONE turned back and arrived here about noon.
      The LIVINGSTONE did not stop here, but continued on her way to Detroit with the crew of the GRAND TRAVERSE on board. The LIVINGSTONE's prow was badly crushed in.
      The GRAND TRAVERSE is a wooden steamer of 749 tons net measurement. She was built at Marine City by Morley in 1879, rates A 2, and has an Inland Lloyds valuation of $25,000. The Lackawanna Railway Company owns her.
      Detroit, Mich., Oct. 19. -- The steamer LIVINGSTONE which was in collision with the GRAND TRAVERSE at 5 o'clock this morning, abreast to Colchester, returned here at 1 o,clock this afternoon. The LIVINGSTONE struck the GRAND TRAVERSE on the port side, amidships, cutting her nearlt in two and causing her to sink in five minutes in 30 feet of water. The crew all took to the rigging and were saved by the boats from the LIVINGSTONE and brought here. The LIVINGSTONE's stem was knocked off from her water line and a couple of her plates are cracked above the water line, but no leak was caused.
      Chicago, Ill., Oct. 19. -- The GRAND TRAVERSE, after being laid up most of the season, went into commission at noon Sunday, and had not been in service twenty-four hours before she was sunk. The LIVINGSTONE had also been out of commission but was loaded with grain at Armour's on Friday. The GRAND TRAVERSE was valued at $25,000.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      October 19, 1896

The steamer GRAND TRAVERSE of the Lackawanna Line and the steamer LIVINGSTONE collided early Monday morning at 5 A. M., 1 ½ miles north of Colchester light in Lake Erie. The GRAND TRAVERSE, built in 1879 and measuring 869 tons, sank immediately, the crew being taken off by the LIVINGSTONE whose bows were badly crushed. The GRAND TRAVERSE had been laid up most of the season and had gone into commission at noon on Sunday. The LIVENSTONE was downbound with grain.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, October 20, 1896

Detroit, Oct. 19:-- The GRAND TRAVERSE, of the Lackawana Line was sunk by collision with the composite steamer LIVINGSTONE at five o'clock this morning abreast of Colchester Light, Lake Erie. The crew was saved by the LIVINGSTONE.
      The LIVINGSTONE is owned by the Michigan Navigation Company.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      October 20, 1896

The Detroit Free Press says that the LIVINGSTONE and GRAND TRAVERSE were in charge of their first mates, and each blames the other. Not a man of either crew will tell the story, as they have been ordered by their agents and owners to keep quiet until the case comes to trial or is up for settlement. It seems that the atmosphere was clear, and that those on each boat could plainly see the lights of the other. Dawn was just beginning to appear, but all was practically in darkness.
The above collision has caused more or less talk in Buffalo marine circles. Yesterday a group of skippers were referring to it and one of them said that he heard the GRAND TRAVERSE blew 3 times for the port side, but the LIVINGSTONE never answered her signals. Of course this is mere hearsay and it does no help the matter one way or another. Captains who have passed the wreck say that the GRAND TRAVERSE is directly in the course. This may be, but when she was struck, she was liable to swing around. It will undoubtedly prove to be an interesting case for the courts to decide.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      October 23, 1896 3-1

The GRAND TRAVERSE, sunk off Colchester Reef, will be raised.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Wednesday, October 29, 1896
      . . . . .
Sealed proposals for the wreck of the steamer GRAND TRAVERSE, sunk off Colchester reef, Lake Erie, in 30 feet of water, will be received by the Lackawanna Transportation Co. until Nov. 2. The bids will be opened at 2 o'clock on that day at the company's office at Buffalo.
      Marine Review
      October 29, 1896
      . . . . .
      Referring to the recent accident to the Buffalo steamer LACKAWANNA at Ballard's reef, due to striking rock thrown up in the work of channel excavation, a correspondent at Ambertsburg says that as tows were constantly carrying away the floats placed over such obstructions, the contractors have tried, as far as possible of late, to give notice to vessels approaching from both directions of the condition of the channel. "If deep laden ships will be sure of keeping the upper range open a little to the west," he says, 'they will clear the spot where the dredge has been working. Dredging operations that are being carried on by the Canadian government along the water-front at the town of Amherstburg will prove of great advantage The stretch of channel that is being dredged extends out 300 feet from the dock. At several points well out in this channel boulders weighing full four tons have been raised, and they were so smooth from big vessels rubbing over them that you would have thought they were sand-papered. A few days ago the dredge raised an oak saw log about 16 feet long and 3 feet diameter, and in it was imbedded a large blade from a steamer's wheel. Vessel men of this place who talked with Capt. Thomas Jones of the steamer IROQUOIS are of the opinion that the obstruction which his vessel met with near Colchester several days ago was not the wreck of the steamer GRAND TRAVERSE. They are quite certain that this wreck has been cleared to a depth of more than 20 feet and they say that from the bearings given by Capt. Jones it is more than probable that the Iroquois struck at Little's point. Capt. Jones, whose vessel was bound up with coal, says that as near as he can judge he was about two miles above Colchester reef light, the light bearing E.S.E. 2 ½ miles with Little's point just abaft the beam."
      The Marine Review
      December 2, 1897

      . . . . .

In the collision case of the steamer GRAND TRAVERSE, of the Lackawanna line, against the steamer LIVINGSTONE, of this port, each side makes directly contrary charges. The GRAND TRAVERSE was bound up from Buffalo to Green Bay with a miscellaneos cargo, and the LIVINGSTONE down with grain. The collision occurred at 5:30 on the morning of October 19 last, two miles to the northwest of Colchester light, Lake Erie. First mate, William McDonald, in charge of the GRAND TRAVERSE, testifies that he first saw the lights of the LIVINGSTONE at four to five miles off. When the two were seperated by a mile and a half he blew one blast to the LIVINGSTONE. He saw the LIVINGSTONE's red and green lights and the two range lights, and judged him to be a quarter of a point on the port bow. After blowing one blast McDonald ported his wheel half a point, and within a mile or three fourths of the LIVINGSTONE, blew another blast. Neither was answered. At the second he saw only the red and range lights of the LIVINGSTONE three-quarters of a point to the port bow.
      When the other was three-fourths of a mile away McDonald blew a third blast, which was not answered, and ported still further. The mate then observed the LIVINGSTONE swinging towards him, and so close that he could see no way of clearing hin except by letting his vessel go as she was. Then the crash came. The LIVINGSTONE going head on into the GRAND TRAVERSE, striking her amidships. The GRAND TRAVERSE was going eight and a half miles an hour. He says that when the other was thirty feet away he could hear his engine signal, but there was no check in her speed. The collision appeared to be directly at right angles.
      First mate, William McAlpine, in charge of the LIVINGSTONE at the time of the collision, testified that the collision occurred at 4:55 o'clock; that the night was clear with no moon; that when the lights of the GRAND TRAVERSE were first sighted she was four or five miles away; that the mast-head light of the other bore a quarter to half a point on his starboard bow; that he next saw her green light; that when they were a mile apart he starboarded half a point; that she was still on his starboard bow, showing the green and head lights; that he had heard no signals from her; that he blew none himself; that if neither had changed her course from that time on they would have passed to the starboard of each other by 1,000 feet or 1,500 feet apart, he heard one whistle from the other; the GRAND TRAVERSE showing a green and head light; that he stopped the engine and reversed; that he gave no order to the wheelsman; that the GRAND TRAVERSE seemed to put her wheel hard to port and come right across his bow, as he could see her swing; that soon her green light disappeared and he could see only her head lights; that the speed of the LIVINGSTONE was reduced from eleven miles to five miles an hour. Then the boats came together, the GRAND TRAVERSE's engine all the time working.
The claim for damages put in by the Lacawanna line is about $75,000, of which $40,000 is for the steamer, which is a total loss. H.D. Goulder, of Cleveland, represents the GRAND TRAVERSE, and C.E. Wrenier, of Chicago, represents the LIVINGSTONE. The case is being tried before the United States District Court for the northern New York district.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      June 8, 1897

      . . . . .

      The report comes from Detroit that Pfohl Bros. have abandoned the sceme to raise the steamer GRAND TRAVERSE, sunk near Colchester, as she is broken in two. The small steamer FERN landed at Detroit on Friday, chain, trucks, machinery and ironwork, including an anchor, recovered from the submerged steamer. The wreckers will recover the boilers and all the machinery possible and will then destroy the hull with dynamite.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      July 19, 1897

      . . . . .

Capt. Laughlin reports that the wreckers are now raising the boilers of the sunken steamer GRAND TRAVERSE, off Colchester. The hull was found to be broken in two, so that it was not worth the while to try to raise it. The engine will be taken out also, although it will probably be broken up. About 450 tons of coal were saved at the outset, and the remaining salvage ought to turn out considerable. The job was begun with the idea of raising the steamer, though she would not have been very valuable had she been floated uninjured.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      August 11, 1897

      . . . . .

Amherstburg, Sept. 4 - The stm. FERN, which has been stationed with a light on the wreck of the sunken stm. GRAND TRAVERSE, off Colchester Light, was run into by the schr. PORTER last night and had her smokestack and cabin carried away, and her hull cut down to the water's edge. The FERN is now in drydock and the GRAND TRAVERSE wreck is without a light tonight.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      September 4, 1897 3-1
      . . . . .

      It is said that the little wrecking steamer FERN had 100 pounds of dynamite aboard when she was run down by the big schooner PORTER, and that it is a miracle that all on both boats were not blown into kingdom come. The FERN was at work blowing up the remnants of the GRAND TRAVERSE wreck, off Colchester. The damage to the FERN is considerable, and had the blow been struck a few feet further to port, all would have been lost. The FERN had 4 and the schooner had 6 men. She is now here for repair.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      September 8, 1897

Obstruction caused by the steamer GRAND TRAVERSE, sunk near Colchester Lighthouse, was removed by Phfol & Son.
      Removal of Obstructions
      Canadian Sessional Papers (No. 11) A 1898

Steam screw GRAND TRAVERSE.* U.S. No. 91129. Of 869.68 tons gross; 749.18 tons net. Built 1879 at Marine City, Mich. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 181.2 x 33.0 x 14.1
* formerly steam screw MORLEY.
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1886

Media Type:
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Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 41.98339 Longitude: -82.93314
William R. McNeil
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Grand Traverse (Propeller), U91129, sunk by collision, 19 Oct 1896