The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Norman (Propeller), U130505, sunk by collision, 30 May 1895


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During a heavy fog last night the Canadian steamer JACK, bound down with lumber, collided with the steamer NORMAN off Menominee River, opposite Middle Isle. The NORMAN sank immediately. Three were drowned. The barge SICKEN was nearby and picked up the remainder of the crew. The NORMAN sank in 300 feet of water. The JACK was towed into port badly damaged.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, May 31, 1895
      . . . . .

      CANADIAN STEAMER JACK SUNK.
      Went Down After Colliding With the Steel Steamer NORMANùThree Sailors Drowned.
Alpena, Mich., May 31. -- During a heavy fog last night the Canadian steamer JACK, bound down, with Lumber, collided with the steamer NORMAN of Menominee, opposite Middle island. The NORMAN sank immediately in 300 feet of water. Her cook, wheelsman and fireman were drowned. The Barge SICKEN, was near by and picked up the balance of the crew.
The NORMAN was valued at $200,000 and insured for $175,000. The JACK is afloat, but badly damaged. Tugs have left here to bring her in.
Detroit, Mich., May 31. The NORMAN is a steel propeller of 30,304 tons gross, was built in Cleveland in 1890 and is owned by Capt. George P. McKay of Cleveland
The Canadian steamer JACK is a new vessel and is the same vessel which damaged the locks of the Welland Canal Company so badly about three weeks ago that navigation on the canal was suspended for three days.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, May 31, 1895
      . . . . .
     
      LAKE DISASTER
      STEAMER NORMAN SUNK IN A COLLISION
      THREE PEOPLE DROWNED
      The Vessel Was Struck in a Fog by the Steamer JACK.
Alpena, Mich., May 31. -- The big steel steamer NORMAN, and the Canadian steamer JACK, collided on Lake Huron some seven miles off Middle Island, in a dense fog, at one o'clock this morning. The NORMAN went to the bottom within two minutes, carrying with her the following persons: Mrs. Reynolds, of Bay City, wife of steward; Nels Gerstene, watchman; Toney, deck hand, shipped at Ashtabula.
      The JACK filled and would have also sunk, had it not been for her cargo of lumber which kept her afloat.
      The survivors from the NORMAN were brought here by the steamer SICKEN. The SICKEN was less than half a mile away from the colliding boats, and the crash was distinctly heard through the fog. She hastened in the direction of which the noise of the crash came, and soon sighted a life raft containing the crew of the NORMAN.
      Capt. Stratton who was in command of the NORMAN, stated that he had been run down by an unknown lumber propeller, which struck his boat on the port side, just forward of the main mast, cutting her almost in two. The NORMAN filled immediately. He stated that all efforts possible were made to get the men into the life boat, but three persons, the steward's wife, a watchman and a deckhand, were not quick enough in leaving the wreck, and went down with the boat.
      After rescuing the NORMAN'S crew, the SICKEN cruised around in the fog to find the craft with which the NORMAN had been in collision. After searching a considerable time, the boat was located and was found to be the Canadian propeller JACK, loaded with rock elm. Her entire bow was stove in, and the boat was full of water.
      The captain of the SICKEN sent a boat to the JACK, and took off ten of her crew. The captain, both mates, and both engineers refused to desert the ship and were left on board. The life-saving crew at Little Island and the tug RALPH were sent out looking for the JACK as soon as the SICKEN reported the loss. It is feared that her cargo will become so water soaked that she will go down before the life-savers can find her.
      The NORMAN belonged to the Menominee Transit Company, and was one of the best types of lake freight carriers. She was built in 1890, measured 1,870 net tons, and is rated in this year's Inland Lloyds at $160,000, although her cost exceeded $200,000.
      She is one of the boats which Ferdinand Schlesinger started to build when at the top of his skyrocket prosperity. When lost control of the Chapin and other iron mines, his fleet of lake vessels went with the rest, and they were completed by a syndicate composed of Mr. A. Hanna and others of Cleveland.
      Capt. Stratton, who was in command of the NORMAN, made the following statement of the collision this forenoon. "The NORMAN was bound from Ashtabula to Escanaba without cargo. We carried a crew of 20. Last night, when seven miles northeast of Middle Island, about 11:30, the fog settling in very thick. There were many vessels in our vicinity, and we checked down and blew three whistles constantly. We sighted the JACK 20 minutes before the accident. She was then off our port bow. The mate and I were on the bridge.
      "I gave the JACK a signal of one whistle which she answered with one whistle. She then disappeared in the fog. When I sighted her again she was very close. I then gave one blast of the whistle, but this time the JACK answered with two blasts. I immediately put the NORMAN hard a port and thought the JACK would pass all right. Immediately after she loomed right up close under our port bow, showing her green light. I herd her captain give the order to put her hard starboard, then she struck us amidships with a horrible crash. I knew by the force of the collision that the NORMAN had been cut almost in two and gave orders to awaken the men who were in their berths, and lower away the boats.
      "The JACK backed away from us," Capt. Stratton continued, "And the NORMAN rolled over on her port side. The mate and I got one boat lowered and got into it. The NORMAN was rapidly settling, and I called to the men to jump. They did so, and I picked up five men out of the water. The first officer got the life raft lowered and nine men got into it. We had to pull away from the NORMAN in order to keep from being drawn down by the suction as she sank in less than three minutes from the time of the collision."
      Capt. Stratton was very warm in his praise of the aid extended by Capt. Kuhn of the SICKEN, and the manner in which the crews of the wrecked steamers were cared for on that boat.
      The SICKEN and her tow were close by when the collision occurred, and Capt. Kuhn sent three boats and helped the survivors of the NORMAN to search through the wreckage for others of the crew. One of the boats picked up three survivors, the woman cook and two men. The deck hand, known as Toney shipped at Ashtabula, but his other name is unknown. Gerstene, the watchman, leaves a wife in Norway.
      "The weather was very foggy," Capt. Kuhn stated, "and there were many boats in the vicinity. Just before the collision, a steamer passed to the stern of us, cutting the tow-line. It is thought to have been the JACK."
      The JACK'S cargo of lumber was loaded at Traverse City for Quebec. Her crew has gone out on the tug FRANK W. to search for their steamer. This was the first trip of the JACK since having been rebuilt and renamed. It has been a very disastrous one. The first thing the JACK did after coming from the ship yard was to tear away several gates in the Welland canal. The loss amounted to many thousands of dollars, and the steamer was so badly damaged that she had to go to Buffalo to be repaired, before continuing on her way.
      There is a remarkable similarity between the loss of the NORMAN and that of the Lehigh Valley liner CAYUGA. Both were cut down by lumber carriers which remained afloat.
      Chicago, May 31. -- The NORMAN is believed to be fully insured. For several seasons the Menominee line was insured in the London Lloyds, but this season the Lake Companies succeeded in capturing the business by making insurance exceedingly low.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      May 31, 1895

      . . . . .

      THE NORMAN
      JACK'S MASTER TALKS.
      Alpena, June 1. --The Canadian steamer JACK, which collided with and sank the steel steamer NORMAN yesterday morning, is now sunk at Presque Isle. Her stern is in 24 feet of water, and her bow in 19 feet. The forward end of the boat is badly stove in, the decks split and the timbers parted from the stem by at least eight inches. She is owned by Calvin & Co., of Garden Island, Ontario, who will send a wrecking expedition from Kingston. The deck load of timber is being taken off, and it is hoped to lighten up the wreck forward sufficiently to make temporary repairs. There is no insurance on boat or cargo.
      Capt. Simmons, who was in command of the JACK, made the following statement today:
      "The weather was very thick Thursday night. We were running under check, not making more than five knots an hour and blowing three whistles constantly. I was on the bridge and the JACK was on her regular course, heading South, Southeast. I did not see the NORMAN'S light until just before we struck her. I did not hear her whistle, and received no whistle or signals from her and gave none. All at once she loomed up right ahead, crossing our bows and showing her red light. We were on our regular course, and the NORMAN was apparently heading out into the lake. I gave the signal to stop and back strong, which my engineer instantly obeyed. I also gave orders to the wheelsman to port his helm, but the boats came together with a heavy crash.
      "We did not cut into the NORMAN, and the boats did not remain together. I did not think the NORMAN was injured, but felt the JACK was settling and called to the captain of the NORMAN not to desert us, but he drifted away in the darkness. I thought the JACK would go down, and when the boats from the steamer SICKEN came alongside. I gave my crew permission to go, but the mate, engineer and myself remained aboard. I deeply regret the accident, especially the loss of three lives, but feel that we were in no way to blame."
      The statements of the captains of the NORMAN and JACK all agree that there were many boats in the vicinity of the wreck, and that all were blowing their whistles. This may account for difference in regard to the whistle signals said to have been given and received by the NORMAN. The latter was without cargo, and her bridge was high in the air, enabling her captain to see the JACK'S light over the fog.
      The JACK was down low, which probably accounts for her not seeing the NORMAN until close to her. The NORMAN sank in about 180 feet of water. Nothing has been seen of the bodies of those drowned.
      Cleveland, June 1. -- The crew of the lost steamer NORMAN is here today and the legal phases' of the collision are receiving the attention of the attorney's.
      Great sympathy is expressed for Capt. Stratton. He is a young man, but has been known as one of the most careful navigators on the lakes. The insurance on the NORMAN aggregated $163,000 and was all placed through David Vance & Co., of Milwaukee.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      June 1, 1895

      . . . . .

      LAKE DISASTER.
      Big Steel Steamer NORMAN Sent to the Bottom With Three of Her Crew.
      COLLISION IN THE FOG.
      Canadian Steamer JACK Stuck the NORMAN Full Amidships
      And the Steel Steamer Sank Within Three Minutes Afterward.
      Alpena, Mich., June l.--The big steel steamer NORMAN and the Canadian steamer JACK collided on Lake Huron some seven miles off Middle Island in a dense fog at 1 o'clock yesterday morning, The NORMAN went to the bottom within two minutes, carrying with her three of the crew. The JACK filled and would have also sunk had it not been for her cargo of lumber which kept her afloat.
The Survivors from the NORMAN were brought here by the steamer SICKEN. The SICKEN was less than half a mile away from the colliding boats and the crash was distinctly heard through the fog. She hastened in the direction from which the noise of the crash came and soon sighted a life boat and little raft containing the NORMANÆS crew.
The life saving crew at Little Island and the tug RALPH were sent out looking for the JACK as soon as the SICKEN reported the loss. It is feared that her cargo will become so water-soaked that she will go down before the Life savers call find her.
The following are the names of the lost: Mrs. Reynolds of Bay City, wife of steward; Nels Berstene, watchman; Toney, deck-hand, shipped at Ashtabula.
Capt. Stratton, who was in command of the NORMAN, said: "The Norman was bound from Ashtabula to Escanaba without cargo. Se carried a crew of 20. When seven miles northeast of Middle Island and, about 11:30, the fog settled in very thick and there were many vessels in our vicinity, and we checked down and blew three whistles constantly. We sighted the Jack 20 minutes before the accident. She was then on our port how. The mate and I were on the bridge.
"I gave the JACK a signal of one whistle, which she answered with one whistle. She then disappeared in the fog. When I sighted her again she was very close. I then gave one blast of the whistle, but this time the JACK answered with two blasts, I immediately put the NORMAN hard a-port and thought the JACK would pass all right. Immediately after she loomed right up close under our port bow, showing her green light. I heard her captain give the order to put her hard a-starboard, then she struck us amidships with a horrible crash.
"I knew by the force of the collision that the NORMAN had been cut almost in two, and gave orders to awaken the men, who were in their berths, and lower away boats. The JACK backed away from us," Capt. Stratton continued, "and the NORMAN rolled over on her port side. The mate and I got one boat lowered and got into it. The NORMAN was rapidly settling, and I called to the men to jump.
"After we picked up the five men we floated around for about two hours. The men behaved admirably. We kept the raft and yawl together as much as possible. I put men at the sweeps and we slowly moved about the lake, constantly under control. Our men relieved each other in shouting for help.
"Finally we saw a light in the fog. We moved slowly in its direction while the men kept up their cries. The lights were on the steambarge SICKEN." The NORMAN is a steel propeller of 30,304 tons gross, was built in Cleveland in 1890, and is owned by Capt. George P. McKay of Cleveland. She was valued at $200,000 and insured for about $175,000.
The Canadian steamer JACK is a new vessel and is the same vessel which damaged the locks of the Welland Canal so badly about three weeks ago that navigation on the canal was suspended for three days.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Saturday, June 1, 1895

      . . . . .

      Steamer NORMAN , lost in collision on Lake Huron May 30, 1895, Belonging to the Menominee Transit Company. Steamer JACK (Canadian) being the other vessel in the collision.
      Marine Review
      June 6, 1895

      . . . . .

      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:
      VESSELS LOST BEYOND RECOVERY SINCE OPENING OF NAVIGATION, 1895.
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
     
      . . . . .
     
     
      A diving-bell shipped to Alpena, recently will be operated from the steam barge JENKS in an effort to locate the steel steamer Nor mail, sunk near Middle island during May, 1895. The bell has telephone and electric attachments.
      Marine Review
      August 13, 1896
     
      . . . . .

      Capt. Charles D. Myers of Cleveland, who owns a diving box of his own design, is preparing an expedition to recover the wreck of the steamer NORMAN, which was sunk with a cargo of coal in collision with the Canadian steamer JACK, now the BOTHNIA. The acciden occurred during the month of August in the season of 1895. The wreck is supposed to lie in 140 or 145 feet of water, but with the aid of modern facilities Capt. Myers expect that he will find no difficulty in recovering the vessel. Capt. Myers will hire a small steamer, and if nothing prevents he will be on his way to Presuqe Isle by the first of next month. Capt. Myers apparatus can be used at a depth of 200 feet, so he says.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      May 13, 1897

      . . . . .

" The place where the collision occurred has been the scene of many marine disasters and there is probably not a square mile on the bottom of the lake in that region without one or more wrecks, which have been caused by collision. The last big collision in that vicinity resulted in the loss of the steel steamer NORMAN." (part of artice dealing with collision off Middle Island & PresqueIsle, Lake Huron between steamers FLORIDA and GEORGE W. ROBY, May 1897.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      May 21, 1897

      . . . . .

      Steam screw NORMAN. U. S. No. 130505. Of 2,304.48 tons gross; 1,860.77 tons net. Built at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1890. Home port, Cleveland, Ohio. 296.5 x 40.4 x 21.0 Steel built.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1891
     
     


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: 3
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1895
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.19842
Language of Item:
English
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.19251 Longitude: -83.3272
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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Norman (Propeller), U130505, sunk by collision, 30 May 1895