The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
F. H. Prince (Propeller), U120797, aground & fire, 8 Aug 1911

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      Five Mile Race With Fire In Lake Leads To Kelleys island.
      Other Sand Boats Make Good Use Of Hose And Prevent Total Destruction.
Fighting the flames on the five mile race to shore, the crew of the steamer F. H. PRINCE, a converted sand boat, beached their vessel on the east shore of Kelleys Island about 10:00 Tuesday morning. The steamer now lies on the beach a partial loss. The united efforts of the crews of the sandsuckers CLINTON; MARY H.; A. Y. GOWAN and PROTECTION which with playing streams of water on the burning vessel saved it from complete destruction. The crew was taken off without any mishap to them.
      The PRINCE was bound light fron Cleveland to Pelee Island for a load of gravel. About five miles from Kelleys Island, fire broke out in the foreward part of the vessel and gained much headway against the feeble efforts of the crew to extinguish the flames. Then when disaster and possibly death faced the crew the vessel was headed for Kelleys and beached on the east shore. As soon as the PRINCE's distress was known, the four sandsuckers and the Marblehead Lifesaving crew were dispatched to the aid of the burning vessel.
      The combined efforts of the crews of the other vessels and the lifesavers resulted in the flames being checked before the fire becamee uncontrolable and before noon it was thought that the PRINCE was to be saved. The PRINCE's crew consisted of fifteen men.
      The F. H. PRINCE is a wooden vessel, 240 feet long, is of 2,047 gross and 1547 tons net. She was built in Detroit in 1890 and was origionally owned by Ogdensburg , N. Y. parties.
      At 2 'clock Tuesday afternoon the Lifesaving crew had not returned to the station nor had any of the four sandsuckers returned to this port. Early in the fore great clouds of black smoke could be seen pouring from behind the island, indicating that the vessel was still on fire and that she might be a total loss.
      The Prince is now owned by the Great Lakes Freighting Co., and on her trip Tuesday was in charge of Captain Parsons. The PRINCE was originally a package freighter but her upper deck works were nearly all removed for the trade she has recently been engaged in. William Hendrickson, local sand dealer, was the first Sanduskian to receive word of the burning of the PRINCE.
      Sandusky Star Journal
      Tuesday, August 8, 1911
      . . . . .
      Although the flames were extinguished Tuesday afternoon, before the vessel was entirely destroyed, marine men say the steamer F. H. PRINCE, ashore on Kelleys island east shore
beach is of little more value than a total wreck. With her bow and upper works almost totally destroyed, it is just a case of taking out her machinery. Besides, the boat is rather far up on the shore and the cost of getting the partially destroyed hull off the beach would be quite an amount.
      The PRINCE was insured for $30,000, but she was worth considerably more than that sum. She was owned, so it is now announced, by the Erie Sand & Gravel Co. The boat was only last winter rebuilt for the sand trade.
      The entire crew of the PRINCE, with the exception of one or two men, were brought to Sandusky Tuesday night aboard the steamer GOWAN, one of the four vessels used in fighting the flames.
      Sandusky Star Journal
      Wednesday, August 9, 1911
      . . . . .
      Say Boat Cannot Be Repaired Satisfactoraially Without Excessive Cost.
      Damaged to such asn extent the owners say she cannot be repaired without more expense than the insurance would cover, the steamer F. H. PRINCE, Wednesday, was abandoned to the underwriters as a constructive total loss. She lies on the beach at Kelleys Island with the forward part of her hull burned almost to the water's edge.
      The vessel is insured for $35,000. The fire which caused Captain H. H, Parsons to beach the vessel in this way, almost half way to the stern. Without the cost of releasing her and towing her to a drydock, where she can properly be repaired, it is thought that the damage amounts to at least 75%, which is necessary to make the ship a total loss.
      No arrangements were made yesterday by the managers of the PRINCE, H. H. Oakes, and Captain H. H. Parsons, to obtain a sand boat to take up the work which the burned vessel was engaged. This will probably be given more serious consideration within the next day or two after the survey of the PRINCE is made and the full extent of the damage determined. If the wreck can not be repaired it will not require the service very long of a hired ship as if a new ship is built, a matter which must be determined before other arrangements can finally be made.
      Sandusky Star Journal
      Thursday, August 10, 1911
      . . . . .
      Steamer F. H. PRINCE Burned To Waters Edge At Kelleys Island.
The steamer F. H. PRINCE, badly damaged by fire last Tuesday morning and beached on the east shore of Kelleys island, again burst into flames Sunday evening and at noon Friday, it was reported from the island that she was a total loss, having been burned to the water's edge. Nothing was done to save her.
      It is thought the fire had been smouldering for several days, not having been extinguished last Sunday, and that the wind of Sunday fanned the embers into a blaze. On Saturday the hulk had been levied upon a United States Marshal on a claim of the Homegardener Sand Co., of this city, for services rendered in extinguishing the fire.
      Clouds of smoke could be seen rising from the vessel before noon by those on passing steamers.
      The boat is now a total loss. The clamshell derrick on board went through the burning hold and is now in the lake. The hulk broke in two and sank.
      According to Kelleys Island reports, while the steamer was burning unknown parties boarded her and stripped her of everything movable that was of value. These persons may get into trouble with Uncle Sam as the boat had been seized by a deputy United States Marshal Saturday to satisfy a libel claim.
      Captain Pedderson, watchman on the boat, had come to Sandusky Sunday. Islanders claim the fire started Saturday.
      Sandusky Star Journal
      Monday, August 14, 1911
      . . . . .

      F. H. PRINCE, Ashore Last Tuesday off Kelley's Island, Burned Last Night.
Sandusky, O., Aug. 15. -- The steamer F. H. PRINCE beached off the east shore of Kelley's Island last Tuesday to keep her from sinking after she had been swept by flames, was burned to the water's edge early yesterday. The boat is now a total loss. The hulk was seized by federal officials Saturday after the Homegardner Sand Co. of this city had filed a claim for salvage as a result of fighting the fire of last Tuesday. Notwithstanding the fact, unknown parties, according to reports from Kelley's Island tonight, boarded her when the flames were discovered today and stripped her of everything of value that could be carried away.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Tuesday, August 15, 1911
      . . . . .
      Steamer F. H. PRINCE
      Official number 120797
      Built of Wood
      Gross Tonnage - 2,047
      Net Tonnage - 19547
      Keel Length - 240'
      8eam - 42'
      Depth - 23.4'
      The F. H. PRINCE was built in 1890, at Detroit, Michigan by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company, hull #102, for the Rutland Transportation Company, of Ogdensburg, N.Y., to be used in the package freight trade on the Great Lakes. She was sold in 1911, to Herbert K. Qakes, of Cleveland, Ohio, and converted to a sand dredge. She caught fire and was beached on the east side of Kelleys lsland, on the west end of Lake Erie, on August 8, 1911. The fire was brought under control by the sand dredges Albert Y. Gowan and MARY H., which were on their way frqm the sand dredging grounds off Pelee Island, bound for Sandusky, Ohio. The fire on the PRINCE was confined to. the forward end. She was heading N.N.W., when she struck the bottom. The next day the wind swung her around so that she headed south. On August 14, 1911, she caught fire once again, this time in the after part of the ship, and was completely destroyed. Loss was estimated at $50,000. Today, the propeller shaft and other parts of the wreckage can be found lying just off the Kelley Island landing strip for small planes.
      Summary by Doug Fetherling
      January 25, 1966
      . . . . .
      F.H. PRINCE Built 1890 Package Freight Propeller - Wood
      U.S. No. 120797 2047 gt - 1547 nt 240' x 42' x 23.4'
Converted to sand dredge in 1911. Caught fire August 8, 1911, and beached on east side of Kelleys Island, Ohio, Lake Erie. Caught fire again August 14, 1911, and totally destroyed.
      Detroit/Wyandotte Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes research
      Perrysburg, Ohio

Steam screw F.H. PRINCE. U. S. No. 120797. Of 2,047 tons gross. Built 1890. On August 8, 1911 vessel burned at Kelleys Island, Ohio, with 17 persons on board. No lives were lost.
      Loss reported of American Vessels
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1912
Steam screw F.H. PRINCE. U. S. No. 120797. Of 2,047 tons gross; 1,547 tons net. Built Detroit, Mich., 1890. Home port, Ogdensburg, N.Y. 240.0 x 42.0 x 23.4 Crew of 18. Of 800 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1903

Media Type:
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Reason: aground & fire
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.60422 Longitude: -82.7074
William R. McNeil
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F. H. Prince (Propeller), U120797, aground & fire, 8 Aug 1911