The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Raleigh (Propeller), U110154, aground, 30 Nov 1911

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Blown on the rocks off Sherkston, Ont., seven miles below Port Colborne early yesterday morning, the wooden steamer RALEIGH is pounding to pieces, three of the crew are dead, and the remainder are sheltered in a farm house after a terrible experience in the icy water of the lake. The stern of the vessel is resting on the bottom, the bow sticking up about 12 feet. The cargo of wood pulp is strewn along shore for miles.
      The Dead.
The dead are: Fred Wise,39 years old, of Cleveland, cook of the RALEIGH; his wife, 38 years old, who was stewardess of the boat, and William Pritchard, chief engineer, of Cleveland, whose body was found about two miles below the wreck.
The engineer refused to leave the boat when the other members of the crew left in lifeboats. He declared that he would take his chances on the steamer. He clung to the bow for hours, but this morning was not visible and is believed to have frozen and fallen into the water last night.
The survivors of the crew are awaiting the result of Capt. Beauvais' efforts to procure transportation and clothing for them. All lost their personal effects and extra clothing.
      "We bucked a heavy sea after leaving Port Colborne," said Ernest Winram, second engineer of the RALEIGH. "When we began to drift we put out anchors, hoping they would hold so we could ride out the storm. The anchors dragged all day. At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon we decided to get away while we had a chance. We got into our two yawls. The one I was in capsized near shore. At one time I was under it, but we all got ashore.
      "Pritchard refused to come with us, thinking he would have as good a chance if he stuck by the ship. After we left the boat we did not see him again. The boat broke up right after that. Wise and his wife went down together. The rest of us had better luck."
The RALEIGH is fast going to pieces. This afternoon but a few timbers are showing above the high sea running.
      Life Savers Out.
The Life Saving crew put out early this morning to renew their attempt, which failed yesterday to reach the wreck. They had not arrived at 10.30 this morning. The sea is still running high, although not nearly so furious as yesterday.
"We went out this morning after getting a telephone message that the engineer had been left on the boat," said Capt. Harrity of the life saving station this afternoon. "lt. took us about four hours to reach the wreckage. The boat is breaking to pieces. No sign of a man was found. The cargo was floating out of the hull. Only the pilot house was visible above the water."
The steamer was bound for Erie on what was to be the last trip of the season. Capt. Harry Beauvais of Cleveland was in command, and all the members of the crew were from the same city.
      Seas Break Rudder.
The RALEIGH put out from Port Colborne Wednesday evening and almost immediately encountered heavy seas. The boat was struggling along, making some headway, when about midnight her rudder broke. Buffeted about by the mountainous seas, which swept her deck almost constantly, the boat drifted towards shore.
Near dawn the hatches were crushed in and the water rushed into the hold, putting out the fires. Capt. Beauvais ordered out the anchors, in the hope that the apparently inevitable wrecking of the boat might be averted. The anchors held, and the boat stopped just outside the east breakwater. Distress signals were hoisted.
      Stern Disappears.
The boat held this position all forenoon. The shore was lined people, but none dared risk a journey into the lake to go to the assistance of the crew. About 2 o'clock the anchor chains broke and the boat was dashed onto the rocks just west of Point Abino and a short distance from the dock of the Empire Limestone Company. Pounding mercilessly by the huge waves that rolled in toward shore, she soon broke in two, her stern sinking.
Capt. Beauvais had already made preparations to try to save the crew. The two life boats had been made ready for launching , and when the boat began to sink one of them, the smaller, with five persons aboard, started for shore. Tossed about by the irresistible waves, the little craft dashed towards shore, every minute bringing a miraculous escape for its occupants as the big rollers broke about them. When a short distance from shore the boat was swamped, and
and the five men were thrown into the icy water. Men who were watching the little craft from the beach rushed into the water and dragged the half drowned men to safety.
      Dies Trying To Save Wife.
Then the other lifeboat was launched. It contained the captain, the cook, Wise and his wife, the mate and two deck hands. It was less fortunate than the smaller boat, for a big wave buried it some distance from shore. All were dragged ashore except Wise and his wile.
When Wise came to the surface he looked about for his wife. She was struggling in the water some distance out, and he started towards her. He was evidently a strong swimmer for he cut through the big waves and reached her just as she was lost to sight. The two were not seen for some time, but later drifted ashore, locked in each other's arms. Dr. Snyder of Ridgeway worked over them for a long time but was unable to resuscitate them.
      Life Savers Baffled.
Pritchard, the chief engineer, refused to leave the vessel. He clung to the bow which protruded from the water. The men on shore tried every method they could think of to reach him, but it was soon seen that no small boat could live in the sea that was running. Pritchard from time to time waved his arms to show that he was still alive.
The life saving station in Buffalo was notified and Capt. Harrity tried to get out into the lake with a life boat, but was obliged to give up the attempt. Tugs went out, but they too returned after it was apparent that none of them could get near the wreck. Vice President Hyman of the Empire Limestone Company directed his men at the quarry to remain on duty all night to take advantage of any opportunity that might present itself for the rescue of Pritchard.
The RALEIGH was one of the oldest and largest of the wooden vessels on the lakes. She was built in 1871 and was 227 feet long. She was owned by Henry Wineman, Jr., of Detroit. The boat will be a total loss. The cargo is strewn for miles along the Canadian shore.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, December 1, 1911

      . . . . .
Capt. Harry Beauvais of the steamer RALEIGH, which battered itself to pieces in the waters of gale-swept Lake Erie, a half-mile off Point Abino, near Port Colborne, on Thanksgiving Day, tells the following story of the rescue:
"We waited -waited-waited. It seemed as if the storm would never let up, and we couldn't get a lull in which to take to the boats. We had decoded that it would he foolhardy to remain on the RALEIGH another night, and we were watching closely for the first chance to leave. It came about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, after we had forgotten all about the turkey dinners and such things. Two boats were launched when the RALEIGH veered about in a position to shelter them somewhat. The crew, all but Mr. And Mrs. Wise, Pritchard, Smith and myself, went in the first boat. They got away from the RALEIGH successfully, but were capsized just as they were reaching the shore. The shore inhabitants who had seen the distress signals, had collected at the point, and all the men were hurled safely on the beach.
"Pritchard must have had a premonition. He watched the crew's boat nervously, as it fought it way to shore, corklike on the wave crests, and when it capsized he exclaimed he would not go in the second boat. No amount of urging would make him change his mind . Once he came to the ladder and took a glance at the skiff, smashing at the side of the RALEIGH, and then declared more determinedly than ever that he would wait to be taken off by the lifesavers. I saw there was no chance to get the fear-crazed fellow into the boat, and with the Wise's, Smith and myself we headed for the shore. We had a boat half filled before we had gone more than a few yards. It was tough work, but we were making headway when one of those enormous waves grasped the bit of a shell and tossed it high in the air. It was the last I saw of the Wise's. The water seemed to smash them away in one mighty effort. Smith and myself floundered about and were pulled in by the crew and the people on the shore. Both of us were dazed and paralyzed with the cold.
The last we saw of Pritchard was just before the crash. He was standing on the stern of the RALEIGH watching our progress through the glasses. They say that just us we were hauled ashore the old boat broke in two and Pritchard went down. Had he gone into my cabin he would have been saved. He had told me that he was going in there to stay. When the lifesavers arrived the forward part of the vessel was still afloat, and he would have been in that part. Pritchard's body floated ashore that night with a life-preserver on. Guess I will never forget that night."
      Buffalo Evening News
      Tuesday, December 5, 1911

Steam screw RALEIGH. U. S. No. 110154. Of 1,205 tons gross; 1,104 tons net. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1871. Home port, Detroit, Mich. 227.3 x 34.0 x 15.0 Freight service. Crew of 12. of 750 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1911
RALEIGH of Detroit, of 1,104 tons. On November 30, 1911, rudder gave way in heavy sea, 5 miles east of Port Colborne.
      Dept. of Transport [ Canada] Casualty List
Steam screw RALEIGH. U. S. No. 110154. Of 1,205 tons gross. Built 1871. On November 30, 1911, vessel foundered at Port Colborne, Ont. With 14 persons on board, 3 lives were lost.
      Loss Reported of American Vessels
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1912

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: 3
Freight: pulp wood
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.836111 Longitude: -79.095277
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Raleigh (Propeller), U110154, aground, 30 Nov 1911