The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Joseph L. Hurd (Propeller), U75154, collision, 10 May 1895

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      Big Lake Steamer and the JOSEPH L. HURD Go Down Together in Lake Michigan.
      HURD's cook the only one to lose his life
      All the others of both crews rescued by the MINOLA, CAYUGA has disappeared.A
Mackinaw City., Mich., May IO.-- During a heavy fog this morning, opposite Skilligalie light, the steamer CAYUGA, bound down, loaded with merchandise, ran into the steamer JOSEPH L. HURD, bound for Chicago with lumber, and both sank.
Both crews were picked up by the MANOLA, except the cook of the HURD, George Johnston of Chicago, who was drowned. The HURD did not sink completely owing to her cargo of lumber, but the CAYUGA has disappeared.
The CAYUGA was the finest vessel of a fleet of 11 boats owned and operated by the Lehigh Valley Transportation Company, as well as the finest freight boat on the Lakes. The headquarters of the company are in the Coal and Iron Exchange. The CAYUGA was built by the Globe Iron Works of Cleveland in 1889 at a cost of $350,000. The vessel was 308 feet over all and of 3000 tons burden. Her hull was of steel and she was one of the very finest specimens of the shipbuilders art in every respect. Her crew consisted of 30 men.
The CAYUGA left Buffalo on the 5th inst. for Milwaukee, her first trip this season. She left Milwaukee yesterday morning at 8 o'clock on the return trip. Her cargo consisted of 38.000 bushels of oats and 1500 pounds of package freight. Arrangements have already been commenced to raise the boat. The manager of the company leaves for Chicago this afternoon to look after its interests, The cargo is valued at 160,000, fully Insured. The boat is also insured.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, May 10, 1895

      . . . . .

      Both Boats Wrecked
      Mackinaw City, Mich., May 10. -- The steamship CAYUGA of the Lehigh Valley Line, bound from Chicago to Buffalo collided with the steamer JOSEPH L. HURD of the Lake Superior Line, lake Superior to Chicago, three miles this side of Skillagalee Lighthouse, at 4:30 this morning.
      The CAYUGA sand 25 minutes later. The bow of the HURD was knocked clean off and only her cargo of lumber kept her afloat.
      The only loss of life was on the HURD. George Johnson, the steward, was knocked overboard by the crash and drowned. The remaining members of both crews were picked up by the Minnesota liner MANOLA, and landed here this morning.
      There was a dense fog hanging on the lake at the time the boats came together. They were in a dangerous locality being on the main highway of the lakes on the passage through the Straits of Mackinaw. A strict lookout was maintained on both vessels, but their speed was not wholly slackened. They were not over 250 feet apart when their signals were distinguished, but then it was too late to avert the collision.
      The CAYUGA is rated A 1 in the Inland Lloyds and her value was about $200,000. Her net register was 1,939 tons, and she was built by the Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, in 1889. She was one of the Ocean pattern steamers, built of steel, with a double bottom. She was one of the best equipped steamships on the lakes.
      The HURD was rated A 2, and was valued at $15,000, she was built at Detroit in 1869 and registered 759 tons.
      The CAYUGA went down in 14 fathoms of water about midway between Skillagalee and Waugoshance Lights. She had on board 1,500 tons of flour from Milwaukee, valued at $70,000 and 30,000 bushels of oats, valued at $8,600. In addition there were a number of minor items which will bring the total value of her cargo to about $90,000. The lost steamer was commanded by Captain Graser, and this was his third season. He was ordered at noon by General Manager W. P. Henry to return at once to Chicago and report to E. J. Henry, the agent of the line in that city.
      The HURD, which is an old timer in lake business, was commanded by captain Charles E. Wilson. This is the first season she had been in commission for several years on account of dull freights.
      Chicago, May 10. -- The first intimation of the loss of the two steamers was received here in a marine news dispatch at 11 o'clock. Not long after Captain Charles E. Wilson, who was in command of the HURD, telegraphed General manager Austrian, Mackinaw City, that he had been in collision with the CAYUGA in a dense fog off Skillagalee, and that he had lost one of his crew and asked for instructions as to what he should do. "Our information is so meager," Mr. Austrian, said at noon, " that we do not know what course we shall pursue regarding the HURD. I will take it from Capt. Wilson's dispatch that the boat has been abandoned, and that the crew is all at Mackinaw City. I would naturally suppose that Capt. Wilson would have thrown his anchor overboard before deserting the ship, to prevent her from drifting on a rocky shore in that region. If such is the case, we shall immediately order a wrecking expedition to go in search of the boat, and save what is left of her."
      Chicago, May 10. --E. J. Henry, the agent of the Lehigh Valley line received a dispatch this afternoon from Buffalo fully confirming the loss of the CAYUGA. The dispatch stated that the steamer had gone down in 14 fathoms of water. Mr. Henry stated that the CAYUGA was fully insured as was her cargo. She left for Milwaukee yesterday, taking on her entire cargo at that port.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      May 10, 1895
      . . . . .

      Michigan City, May 10. -- During a heavy fog at 3:30 the steamer CAYUGA bound down with a load of merchandise ran into the steamer JOSEPH L. HURD bound for Chicago with lumber opposite Skilligalee light and both went down. Both crew were picked up by the steamer MINNESOTA except one of the crew of the HURD, who was drowned.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, May 10, 1895
      . . . . .

      Mackinaw City, May 10. - The steamer JOSEPH L. HURD and the CAYUGA were in collision in a fog this morning. The CAYUGA was sunk and the JOSEPH L. HURD was badly damaged.
      Chicago Inter-Ocean
      May 11, 1895

      . . . . .
      The Collision Was Caused by a Heavy Fog and 0ccurred in the Straits of Mackinaw.

Chicago, Ill., May 11. -- It appears from the particulars now obtainable that the disaster to the CAYUGA and the HURD yesterday was caused by a heavy fog; The vessels were in the main highway on passage through the Straits of Mackinaw when the accident happened, a very dangerous locality. A sharp lookout was maintained on both vessels and their speed had been reduced. Their signals were not distinguished until they were scarcely 200 feet apart when It was too late to avert a collision. The disaster occurred at 4:30 in the morning.
The CAYUGA was struck by the bow of the HURD on the starboard side just aft of the bulkhead, and a great hole, six feet deep and two feet wide was torn in her steel side. She was thrown over on her port side by the force of the blow, but righted and began to fill. The bow of the HURD was knocked completely in and she immediately filled with water. The crews of both boats immediately began lowering the life boats and succeeded in saving most of their clothes, as the CAYUGA was 25 minutes in sinking and the HURD remained afloat through her lumber cargo. The crews of both boats remained near the scene for an hour, when the MANOLA came along and picked them up and landed them at Mackinaw.
The CAYUGA went down in 15 fathoms of water about midway between Skillagallee and Waugoshance lights. Capt. Graser was in command of the CAYUGA. This was his third season and the vessel had never met with a serious mishap while under his command.
The HURD, which is an old-timer in lake business, was commanded by Capt. Charles E. Wilson. This is the first season she has been in commission for several years on account dull freights. She is rated at $15,000 and is Insured for $10,800. The underwriters are hard hit. It is estimated that the total insurance on the boats and their cargoes is about $300,000.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Saturday, May 11, 1895

      . . . . .

Chicago, May 11. -- The wreck of the steamer JOSEPH L. HURD which was in collision yesterday and sank the Lehigh Valley liner CAYUGA, was towed into Harbor Springs this morning by the wrecking tug FAVORITE. The dispatch announces the fact stated that the steamer was a sorry looking sight, but it did not state the extent of the damage inflicted by the CAYUGA. The body of George Johnson, the steward, has not yet been recovered.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      May 11, 1895
      . . . . .

      An attempt will be made to raise the CAYUGA by using pontoons she is now on her side in 106 feet of water.
      Chicago Inter-Ocean
      May 6, 1897

      Vessel Property Lost Since Opening of Navigation.
      summary of losses from the opening of navigation to June 1, shows that eleven vessels of an estimated value of $521,000 and 19,105 net tons capacity have been lost beyond recovery. The table makes no reference to cargo losses and includes only such vessels as have probably passed out of existence. Two small boats that were ashore, but have been released within the past week or ten days, the SAKIE SHEPARD and QUICKSTEP, are not included in the list, but the steamer Runnels, which burned at Ashtabula, and which will very probably be rebuilt is included. Of course not all of the lost boats in the list were insured up to the value placed on them, and some of them were not insured at all, but the underwriters have had a number of heavy losses from the stranding of steel vessels. However, it is probable that the estimate of nearly $1,000,000 to be borne by underwriters on the lakes thus far this season is entirely too high. It is safe to say that $250,000 will cover all losses thus far incurred by the underwriters on wooden boats and their cargoes, and total losses have been paid on only two steel boats. The table of total losses follows:
Date of Loss. Name of Vessel. Cause. Where Lost. Cap. Net Tons. Value.
April 30 Stm. EVERETT, A. Foundered Lake Huron 1,200 $50,000
May 3 Stm, FAIRBANK, N.K Fire Lake Ontario 1,650 30,000
May 4 Stm. GUIDE Fire Oswego ....... 8,000
May 8 Schr. KIMBALL S.H. Collision Saginaw Bay 600 5,000
May 10 Stm. CAYUGA Collision Straits 2,600 5,000
May 10 Stm. HURD, J. L. Collision Straits 950 15,000
May 11 Schr. KITCHEN J.B. Ashore Middle Island 650 5,000
May 11 Schr. KELLEY, KATE Foundered Lake Michigan 550 3,000
May 21 Schr. NEW DOMINION Foundered Georgian Bay 550 7,000
May 29 Stm. RUNNELS, J.E. Fire Ashtabula 1,100 60,000
May 31 Stm. NORMAN Collision Lake Huron 255 163,000
      Total 19,105 $521,000
      Marine Review
      June 6, 1895

      Steam screw JOSEPH L. HURD. U. S. No. 75154. of 557 tons gross; 389 tons net. Built Detroit, Mich., 1869. Home port, Milwaukee, Wis. 171.0 x 29.2 x 10.0 Crew of 14. Of 600 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1906

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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.6764 Longitude: -85.17312
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Joseph L. Hurd (Propeller), U75154, collision, 10 May 1895