The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Bon Voyage (Propeller), U3497, fire, 10 May 1901

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Str. Bon Voyage Burned Last Night
Houghton, Mich. May 10.-- The Steamer Bon Voyage of the White Line, Duluth, was burned to the water’s edge on the beach near the Lake Superior Ship canal tonight. The fire broke out around the steamer’s smoke stack and spread swiftly. It was impossible to launch the boats or life raft. The vessel was running along shore at the time and was headed for the beach. The crew and passengers all escaped except five members of the Altman family of Laurium Michigan. (The mother) And the grand mother and three daughters were drowned. A fourth daughter was saved by hanging to a fender.
      The Sault News Record
      May 10, 1901
      . . . . .

The passenger steamer BON VOYAGE caught fire on Lake Superior on Friday night and was beached near Portage Ship Canal. Four were drowned in an attempt to get from the boat to shore. The BONVOYAGE is owned by the Singer White Line of Duluth.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Saturday, May 11, 1901
      . . . . .

      Houghton, May 10. - The passenger steamer BON VOYAGE caught fire on Lake Superior tonight and was beached near Portage Ship Canal. Five passengers were drowned in getting from the boat to the shore. The fire started around the stack and spread rapidly, the boat was burnt to the water;s edge. The passengers say that she had been on fire twice before, during the voyage, both times around the stack. She was owned by Singers & White Line of Duluth , and ran between Duluth and the copper country. She formerly ran between Chicago and Saugatuck and was brought to Lake Superior a year ago. She measured 153' x 30'.
      Chicago Inter-Ocean
      May 11, 1901

      . . . . .
      The Bon Voyage Disaster.
W.S. Fain, a traveling man who was a passenger on the steamer Bon Voyage and made discovery of the fire which destroyed the craft, blames the crew and says they became panic stricken as soon as the alarm of fire was given. He declares boats could have been lowered, but the crew refused to work. Captain Foley then did the next best thing and made for shore. Fain was in the water forty minutes and was almost exhausted when picked up. Mr. Fain claims that the steamer’s life preservers were in bad condition. The one he had was necessarily tied on with his necktie. There was nothing with which to fasten it and he did the next best thing. W. H. Baker and R. G. Cahill , a couple of railroad bridgemen, say that there was really but one member of the crew who showed any presence of mind and he did do effective work in providing the passengers with life preservers. The others did not appear to know what they were doing beyond an attempt to save themselves. Mr. Clos of St. Paul, a passenger claims that considerable time was lost because of the hose sticking to the iron arms by reason of the recent coat of paint. James h. Evans chief engineer of the steamer says he remained in the engine room until the boat came to a full stop and that he left the engine working ahead unchecked when the fire drove him out. He did not see the captain at all during the fire until he found him on shore.
The number of lives lost was four instead of five as at first reported. The victims were Mrs. Leah Sharp and Mrs. B. Altman and her two daughters. Mrs Sharp was Mrs. Altman’s mother.
      An investigation of the circumstances attending the burning of the Bon Voyage is being conducted by the local inspectors of the steam vessels of Marquette district. The burned steamer was valued in the Inland Lloyds register at $13,000 and insured for that amount. Her cargo had a value of $5,000, and was also fully insured.
      The Sault News Record
      May 15, 1901

      . . . . .

West Superior May 17: -- C.E. Dickson who was head waiter on the steamer Bon Voyage which burned at Houghton a few days ago, has arrived in the city and tells an interesting tale of the burning of the boat. He tells a particulary interesting story of the loss of the Altmans, and is well able to do so from the fact that he was much with them during the greater part of the time that the boat was burning.
Dickson was in the dining room at the time the fire broke out and first learned it through the Altmans, who came rushing into the dining room having been frightened through the actions of the traveling man who has been stirring up a good deal of trouble and discussion since the affair took place. With the aid of a companion Dickson managed to get the Altmans out of the promenade and started them forward. In the melee however, Mrs. Altman slid down a fender clear into the water and there was no possible way of catching her or stopping her wild act.
The rest of the family was not near the guard, but when the boat first struck ground two of them were lost, the grand-mother and the second girl being shaken off the boat into the water, Dickson then began looking out for himself in a certain measure and with a life preserver, swam to shore. He charges that the traveling man who claimed to be a book agent refused a woman permission to grasp his large plank for a moment to fix her life preserver. It is claimed that this plank would support three or more, but that the man refused to let any one on it.
      The Sault News Record
      May 18, 1901

Whitney Bros., of Duluth have been awarded contracts for raising the passenger steamer BON VOYAGE, which sank several miles off the ship canal two years ago.
      Buffalo Evening News
      August 19, 1902

Steam screw BON VOYAGE. U. S. No. 3497. Of 500 tons gross; 360 tons net. Built Saugatuck, Mich., 1891. Home port, Duluth, Minn. 153.3 x 30.0 x 17.2 Of 400 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1900

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Reason: fire
Lives: 5
Remarks: Total loss
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William R. McNeil
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Bon Voyage (Propeller), U3497, fire, 10 May 1901