The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Mohawk (Propeller), fire, 17 Nov 1875

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The Propeller MOHAWK Catches Fire At Her Dock And Is Almost Totally Destroyed.
      Loss $15,000 -- No Insurance.
      About 2:00 Yesterday afternoon an alarm of fire was sounded from the Box of #4, located at the warehouse of the Western Transportation Co., on Erie Street. It was caused by the discovery of flames in the hold of the propeller MOHAWK, which was moored on the north side of the Coit slip, near the Erie Basin.
      The Cause
The cause of the fire, cannot exactly be determined. During the morning the firemen were engaged in cleaning the machinery of the propeller, preparatory to laying her up for the season. She had not been running for about a month, but was still kept in readiness to make another trip or two if necessary. The men who were employed about the machinery, took dinner on board, and at 12:00 when the day watchman went home to have his dinner, everything about the boat was alight. He returned in a short time, but still observed nothing unusual about the vessel. Stepping off he went over to the warehouse for a few moments, and while there smoke was discovered issuing from the hold of the propeller. He ran back immediately and found the flames bursting out of the fire hole in the stern. It is probable the fire caught in some accidental manner from the lamps of the men engaged in cleaning the machinery, especially as a good deal of oil had to be used in the work.
      Spread Of The Flames
The alarm was given at once and the department was promptly on hand. The steamer was run in closely to the dock, and there was an abundance of water, but for some unexplained reason the flames were not checked, but spread rapidly to the upper works of the vessel. All the boats lying near were removed to a safe distance by the tugs. The heat from the burning boat was intense, and swarms of rats were driven from their winter quarters in her, to be killed by the crowd or thrown into the water. The wind blew the smoke and sparks directly across the slip into the immense piles of lumber owned by Haines, Jackson & Co., and others on the south side, and finally Supt. Williams decided to have the burning propeller taken out into the harbor.
      Towed Outside The Breakwater
Several tugs including the CROMWELL, the SILL, the A.M. BALL, the RAMBLER, the GRIFFIN, the ORIENT, the INGRAM and others made fast to the MOHAWK, and towed her outside the breakwater. There she was scuttled, but in sinking her bow struck the ground and the hull keeling over raided the augerholes out of the water so that she could not become totally submerged. Two steamers were also brought out and played on her for some time. She will be raised again today, we understand, and towed back into the slip. Her hull and machinery will probably be saved.
      The Burnt Propeller
The MOHAWK was built at Cleveland in the spring of 1856, by Luthur Moses for the Western Transportation Co., who have owned her ever since. She was 202 ft. long, had about 32 ft. breadth of beam, 11 ft. depth of hold, and a tonnage of 850. During the past season she was commanded by Capt. James Dissett. She was provided with two powerful oscillating engines, but was regarded as a first class boat. She was valued at $25,000 and the loss will probably amount to $15,000. The MOHAWK was not insured.
About 12:30, while still working in extinguishing the fire on the MOHAWK, Supt. Williams fell into the water between the tug and the propeller. He was saved by Jacob Durenberger, of Citizen Hook & Ladder 11, who caught him by the arm and pulled him out. The steamers worked at the fire until after 1:00 this morning, and there were two or three other slight accidents.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      November 18, 1875 p. 3

      . . . . .

A steam pump was placed on board the burned prop. MOHAWK yesterday by the tug CROWELL, and the work of pumping her out commenced. The hole in her hull having been previously plugged up, and there being only about 9 ft. of water in her, the pump was not long in raising the boat, and by 6:00 she was entirely free. The hull was towed to the Coit Slip, emptying into the Erie Basin. A survey of her damages will be made in a few days, and the question of her final disposition determined. The boilers and engine will be taken out and sold, and it is probable that the propeller will be converted into a barge.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 19, 1875 3-6

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: fire
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $15,000
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.88645 Longitude: -78.87837
William R. McNeil
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Mohawk (Propeller), fire, 17 Nov 1875