The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chicora (Propeller), U126902, sunk, 21 Jan 1895


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Milwaukee, Jan. 22:- The steamer CHICORA is either foundering helplessly in the ice floes or has been sunk by the 48 mile gale which has raged since the afternoon of Monday, January 21. She cleared at 5 a.m. and should have reached St. Joseph six and a half hours later.
It was 5:15 a.m. Monday when she left the harbor. Late Monday night a red light was seen from Benton Harbor pier and was thought to belong to the CHICORA but it soon faded away. There has been no news of the steamer. There was much drift ice in the lake and the northwest blizzard drove it into the harbor of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, both of which are inaccessible.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      January 23, 1895


      CHICORA GONE.
      That She Foundered With 26 on Board Proved by the Wreckage.
      Benton Harbor, Jan. 24. -- President Graham of Graham & Morton's Transportation Company received the following dispatch from South Haven this morning:
      "We have found about one mile out from the pier, lodged in the ice, port side of wood, upper bulwarks, five feet wide by 12 long and inside cutter to passenger gangway. Belonged to the CHICORA."
      (signed) "J. S. Morton."
      Mr. Graham broke down after reading the sad news at the telegraph office. It is believed this establishes the loss of the CHICORA beyond doubt.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      January 24, 1895
     
      . . . . .
     
      Wreckage has come ashore leaving no doubt that the passenger steamer CHICORA has gone down in icy Lake Michigan. About 22 have been lost. The boat left Milwaukee Monday morning for Grand Haven.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Thursday, January 24, 1895

      . . . . .

      FROM THE ILL-FATED CHICORA.
      Dog Which Was on Board Turns up Alive Near Benton Harbor.
      Benton Harbor, Mich., Jan. 28. -- When the steamer CHICORA went out of St. Joseph on her last trip there was a dog aboard. On Saturday the dog was brought into the city alive.
      Tuesday the dog was heard whining at the door of Solomon Cutter, who conducts a road house at Pottowatomie Park. It is a snuff colored Skye terrier and was covered with ice. Mr. Cutter connected the visit of the strange dog, which had evidently just come out of the water with the loss of the CHICORA and brought it to this city.
      The return of the animal indicates that the CHICORA was within a half-mile of the east shore Tuesday night. The dog, it is believed, could not swim more than a quarter of a mile. The place where the dog came ashore at Pottowatomie Park is eight miles south of Benton Harbor. Many are inclined to think that the vessel must have sunk not far from that point.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      January 28, 1895
     
      . . . . .
     
      CHICORA WRECKAGE COMING ASHORE.
St. Joseph, Mich., mqrch 15. -- Wreckage from the steamer CHICORA which was lost with 24 persons on board some weeks ago, has begun coming ashore at this point. Parts from around the engine room have been found, this being the first wreckage found from that part of the boat. The chair which engineer McClure used has also been found. Many are now advancing the theory that she went down not far from this port. The ice is breaking up, allowing the wreckage which has been under it to rise.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, March 15, 1895
     
     
      MORE CHICORA WRECKAGE.
      The ground swell caused by the heavy northwest gale of Thursday last, again disturbed the wreck of the ill-fated steamer CHICORA, and portions of the upper works as well as furniture from ?????? lies scattered on shore between New Buffalo and Michigan City, as was the case with wreckage drifted ashore several weeks ago, portion of the woodwork bore the appearance of having been scorched by fire. The exact location of the CHICORA's hull is still a mystery, as no further search for it has yet been instituted.
      Milwaukee Wisconsin
      June 1, 1896
     
      . . . . .
     
      Shipwreck Chicora Discovered in Lake Michigan
(Sept. 21, 2001 -Holland, MI) -- A shipwreck search expedition, called "Quest for the Chicora" organized by the non-profit Southwest Michigan Underwater Preserve Committee, and overseen by members of the newly formed "Chicora Preservation Society" today announced the discovery of a shipwreck believed to be the Chicora, located off the eastern shore of Southwest Lake Michigan. It is outside the boundaries of the Southwest Michigan Underwater Preserve and in very deep water. Using side-scan sonar, owned and operated by renowned shipwreck hunter David Trotter of Undersea Research Associates in Canton, Michigan, this discovery was made in May of 2001 . The sonograms (or interpretations) of the discovery indicate a wooden steam vessel approximately 200 feet in length, resting upright with an intact hull.
Further work on the site has been conducted by search committee members, consisting of Jan Miller, Valerie van Heest, Bernie Harris, Craig Rich, and Jack van Heest, to identify the object with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) fitted with lighting and photographic equipment. The ROV is the preferred method of identification due to the dangers inherent with the depth, which is well outside of recreational diving limits as well as unknown obstacles and entrapments that may be present at the site. On September 15, 2001 the team shot underwater video that supports the conclusion that the discovery is in fact the Chicora and is based upon many indications, including its location, position, condition, size, profile, and numerous artifacts all consistent with the long lost vessel.
The steamship Chicora was built for the Graham & Morton Transportation Company by the Detroit Dry Dock Company in 1892. This especially stout ship, built to cut through the ice pack and safely ply the often violent waters of the Great Lakes, had been designed for winter passenger and cargo runs between Wisconsin and southern Michigan. The Chicora was a wooden hulled vessel, 198.5 feet long with a 35 foot beam. In January, 1895 the Chicora had already been tied up for the winter at St. Joseph, Michigan when her owners received a request to deliver a shipment of late winter flour from Milwaukee, Wisconsin back to St. Joseph. Captain Edward C. Stines of St. Joseph readied his ship and left for Milwaukee early Sunday morning, January 20. The next day, she left the Milwaukee dock at 5:00 AM.. The Chicora would have been about mid lake when the winds shifted to the southwest and began blowing with a typical January fury, and she was never seen again. No bodies were ever recovered. No wreckage more substantial than superstructure and masts was ever found.. Until now.
The "Chicora Preservation Society" (CPS), has been formed by search committee members, Jan Miller, Valerie and Jack van Heest, and Craig Rich as well as others and was developed independently of the SWMUP, to focus on documenting the ship and working with archaeologists to interpret more fully the impact of the discovery. The CPS hopes to work in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Historical Center-Dept. of State, and other local organizations including Kenneth Pott, Executive Director of the Benton Harbor's Fort Miami Heritage Society.

      . . . . .

CHICORA Built June 25, 1892 Passenger Propeller - Wood
U S. No. 126902 1122 gt - 708 nt 198.5' x 35' x 13.6'
Foundered between Milwaukee, Wis., and St. Joseph, Mich., Lake Michigan, during gale of January 21, 1895; all hands (24) lost.
      Detroit/Wyandotte Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 24
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1895
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.19804
Language of Item:
English
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.68473 Longitude: -86.53036
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Chicora (Propeller), U126902, sunk, 21 Jan 1895