The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Cibola (Steamboat), C92732, fire, 15 Jul 1895

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      He Was In The Engine Room Of The Burning Vessel And Was Unable To Escape.
      It Was Threatened With Destruction But A South Wind Saved It.
      Docks Burned - The Loss Will Be Over $200,000
      (Special To The Evening News)
Lewiston, July 15. -- The splendid steamer CIBOLA of the Niagara Navigation Company, Limited, which operates the steamship line between this place and Toronto, was burned to the water's edge early this morning.
      The American Hotel was also destroyed, and at this hour (2:15) it seems certain that the Anglers' Retreat, south of the American, will be destroyed.
      Fire was discovered in the CIBOLA about 1 o'clock as she lay moored to the dock. An alarm was given and the townspeople did their best to save the boat.
      The docks and warehouses were utterly consumed. Under the Custom House were eight barrels of coal oil, which exploded and threw the building high into the air, a shattered blazing wreck.
      The hotel then caught fire and was destroyed, although on account of the staple construction of the building the flames made slow progress. The hotel buildings were owned by H.G. Cornell.
      A little before 2 o'clock the CIBOLA broke from her moorings and drifted down the river, a great floating flambeau which lighted up both shores.
      She drifted down the river, to a point on the other side around the bend, where she was taken in tow by the ONGIARA.
      The CIBOLA was one of four of the finest steamers that plyed the waters of Ontario Lake. The other boats of the line are the CHIPPEWA, CHICORA and ONGIARA. They make daily trips, Sundays excepted, from Lewiston to Toronto. All of the vessels were constructed on the Clyde and are models of beauty and speed. It is claimed the fleet are the fastest paddle wheel boats in the world.
      The CIBOLA was of steel, 255 feet long, and was built by Morton of Glasgow. It had direct acting diagonal compound engines. It had fore and aft black and red funnels, feathering paddles and was beautifully fitted up. It was a type of the best channel steamers of Great Britain.
      One life is known to have been lost. The third engineer was burned to death. He was in the engine-room when the fire started and was unable to make his escape.
      His name is Chas. Hammond of Toronto, 33 years old and unmarried. Another engineer was also badly burned.
      All were in bed except the night-watchman and fireman. The latter started to light the fires in the boiler and after doing so left the boiler-room to go to supper. He was suddenly confronted by the flames and gave the alarm.
      All the other man got out, but none fully dressed.
      A number of the other persons who were on the boat had miraculous escapes and saved their lives only by jumping into the water.
      At this time the fire is completely extinguished.
      A portion of the plant of the new George railway was destroyed.
      The model city office near the American Hotel were saved with difficulty.
      Insurance of Hotel, $16,000. The loss on the CIBOLA is very large.
      The CIBOLA was commanded by Capt. Solmes, with First Engineer Murphy in charge.
      Story Of Steward Roberts.
      Clifford Roberts, steward of the CIBOLA, was found by the News Reporter as he was returning from the wreck with a bucket full of burned souvenirs, including about $100 worth of silver and nickel coins.
      He said: "I had been sick all day yesterday and had not undressed to retire. I was reading a book when I heard the cries of fire, and you may be sure I saw about all of it.
      "All the crew on the boat and the people in the hotel were too excited to see very clearly what was happening, but as I was in the hotel and dressed, I had my wits about me.
      "It was the quickest fire I ever saw and had there not been a dead calm, more building would have been burned. I heard no noise of an explosion, only the shouts of the men as they ran out of the boat and scrambled for the dock."
      "Many of them had to crawl over the ropes. Poor Hammond, the third engineer, was a nice fellow, but no earthly power could have saved him. His only retreat was the stairway and that had burned away and he was in a hole of living fire.
      "There were 13 of my men and the captain and engineer's men made 42 usually, but I had cut off three men in Toronto on Saturday.
      "The headmaster is the one who shouted to me that there was a fire on the boat, and I tell you it was a sight the unconventional exits of the people from the hotel. Everybody lost everything. I had just laid in about $5,000 worth of provisions last week.
      "I have in this pail over a hundred dollars in melted silver I just rescued from the hull."
      A passing boat this afternoon cut the wreck loose and it floated down to Youngstown, and as the coal and debris are burning fiercely, it is a question whether it will be of any further use.
      A.G. Woodard, the second engineer, who was badly burned, is about, and feeling better. He said to a New Reporter: "It was impossible to save the boat as the fir spread so rapidly and the heat was so intense."
      Harry G. Cornell, proprietor of the burned hotel, said: "I have lost everything; did not save my clothes even. I will rebuild with a $40,000 structure. My insurance was about $5,000."
      The tragic death of Hammond was the talk of the town, and while no blame is attached to any one, the verdict of the Coroner's jury is awaited with some interest. The jury viewed the wreck and the body and then went into session late this afternoon.
      Hemmed In By Fire And Too Much Dazed Or Otherwise
      Unable To Jump From A Port Hole Of The Blazing Boat
      (special to the Evening News)
Lewiston, July 15. -- The CIBOLA is a total wreck. She lies three miles or so below here. William Hammond, third engineer was burned to a crisp. His death was an awful spectacle, while hemmed in by debris and surrounded by roaring flames he screamed pitifully for help, looking out of the portholes. John Wilson, one of the crew, following in a row-boat, shouted for his to jump into the water but he was too much dazed by the awful situation to do so. He was burned to an unrecognizable mass. His body was recovered this morning and an inquest is in progress. He was single, 30 years old, and lived in Toronto. A.J. Woodward, second engineer, was badly burned about the face and neck. He will recover. It is said he could have escaped, but went back to help put out the fire. Chief Engineer Welsh was burned about the legs, but not seriously. First Mate, John McKeown, assisted at the pumps, was somewhat burned. The crew of 40 lost all their effects. Cornell's hotel was burned to the ground; loss $20,000; insured for $3,500. The guests escaped without their effects. Manager Foy of the steamboat line says the boat was worth $225,000 and was half insured. The fire was caused by explosion of gas emanating from the coal bunkers. The United States customs papers were all destroyed.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Monday, July 15, 1895

      . . . . .
      The steamer CIBOLA of the Niagara Navigation Company was entirely destroyed by fire this morning at 11:00 at Lewiston, N. Y. One man burned to death.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Monday, July 15, 1895

      . . . . .

The Canadian passenger steamer CIBOLA, which was burned at Lewiston, Niagara river, several days ago, was a steel boat of considerable value and high speed. She was 250 feet long and of 2,800 horsepower. Her engines were built in Scotland and were of the direct acting, diagonal, compound type with cylinders of 17 and 85 inches diameter. She had six boilers, and it is claimed that she at one time attained a speed of 22 miles an hour.
      Marine Review
      July 25, 1895

Deseronto.---The steel steamer CIBOLA was launched at Deseronto, Ont.,Tuesday afternoon. She will run next season between Niagara and Toronto.
      The Marine Record
      Thurs. Nov. 3, 1887 p. 1

Steam paddle CIBOLA, Official Canada No. 92732. Of 926 tons. Built Deseronto, Ont., 1888. of 252 x 29 x 12. DISPOSITION:-- Burnt Lewiston, N.Y., July 14, 1895.
      Prelim. List of Canadian Merchant Steamers
      Inland & Coastal, World Ship Society 1809 - 1930

NOTE - Engine of CIBOLA was recovered, repaired and placed in the CORONA.

Media Type:
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Reason: fire
Lives: 1
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.17256 Longitude: -79.03588
William R. McNeil
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Cibola (Steamboat), C92732, fire, 15 Jul 1895