GATES SWEPT AWAY
Big Freight Steamer Rams Lower Lock in St. Mary's Canal.
Ungoverned Torrent of Water Sweeps in From Lake Superior,
Tossing Boats About Like Chips.
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., June 10. - With all the weight of lake Superior behind it, an ungoverned torrent of water rushed last night through the four million-dollar Canadian canal, built to carry vessels around the impassable rapids of the Saint Mary' River. The entire fall of approximately twenty feet was concentrated in the lock, which was wrecked when the steamer PERRY G. WALKER of the Gilchrist fleet, rammed her bow through the lower gate. The canal encased within its walls became a tremendous spectacle including two waterfalls and a giant whirlpool.
The upper gates were open when the WALKER crashed open the lower gates and the tremendous power of the rapids was given instant play. The steamer ASSINIBOIA, the big Canadian Pacific liner, moored within the lock, was torn away from her moorings. Riding on the crest of the flood she jammed the WALKER from her path and her port anchor ripped a hole in the WALKER'S side.
The liner's engine crew put on all steam ahead in a desperate endeavor to give the big vessel steerageway and with her wheelsmen battling to overcome the swirling currents, the ASSINIBOIA'S cargo shifted, and this gave her a considerable list and several plates on her port side forward of amidships were loosened.
The WALKER was whirled around several times and finally landed on a shoal out of the channel. It is said she is undamaged below the water line.
The ore laden steamer CRESCENT CITY of the Pittsburg Steamship Company, which was just entering the locks from Lake Superior when the accident occurred, was swept downstream like a feather. She overtook the ASSINIBOIA and struck her two glancing blows after having a great hole torn in her side as she swept past the broken lower gate. Tugs caught her and towed her to the American side, where she settled to the bottom. Both the upper gates of the lock and one lower gate were wrenched from their moorings. The other lower gate still hangs to its fastenings, twisted and broken.
The loss to the Canadian Government will reach $250,000 and the damage to the CRESCENT CITY is estimated at $100,000. The damage to the steamer WALKER and ASSINIBOIA was comparatively light.
Capt. Mosher, of the steamer WALKER, declares that the accident was caused by his engineer making a mistake and throwing his lever to "full speed ahead" on the Captain's order to "back up."
It is believed that the American locks are capable of carrying all the traffic until the present condition of the shipping ceases.
The steamer ASSINIBOIA is owned and operated by the lake end of the Canadian Pacific Railway system and it attracted much attention in Buffalo two years ago. The boat was built abroad and after being brought across the ocean to Montreal was cut in two section, as her length was too great to permit passing through the Canadian locks. She came through the Welland canal and the two sections were spliced At the yards of the Buffalo Dry Dock Company.
Buffalo Evening News
Thursday, June 10, 1909
. . . . .
RUSHING TORRENT IN THE SOO CANAL.
Believed Canal damaged When ASSINIBOIA and CRESCENT CITY were swept through
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., June 11. - The movable dam in the Canadian Canal had been put in place by midnight, with the exception of one leaf, which it is believed has been twisted out of place. The water is still pouring through the opening and it is intended to timber it. The new gates are ready to be placed as soon as the canal can be pumped out. No estimate of the damage has yet been made.
If it was merely a matter of broken gates the canal would be in commission again in 10 days, but it is thought that injury was done when the ASSINIBOLA and the CRESCENT CITY were swept through the canal. Work on the repair to the CRESCENT CITY will be begun tomorrow. The PERRY G. WALKER, the cause of the mishap, will be ready to proceed tomorrow.
The ASSINBOIA left here last night but was forced to put in at Detroit, her leak having become more serious. She was only delayed a short time.
Ottawa, Ont. June 11. - According to reports received at the Department of Railways and Canals the damage at the Soo Locks is not quite so serious as first reported. The locks may be ready for use again next Monday. G. P. Graham left for the scene last night.
Buffalo Evening News
Friday, June 11, 1909