The steamer ARTHUR ORR was only six-years-old when a brutal Lake Superior storm blew it off its course. The storm slammed the ship into some rocks along the desolate Canadian coast near Baptism River. The ORR, under the command of. Capt. Orville Greene, left Duluth on Nov. 22, 1898, with a cargo of flour, copper and a deck load of wooden shingles.
The gale developed within hours after the steamer left port. Powerful winds and a strange cross- sea blew the ship off its course. Captain Greene said that while they were fighting the storm, something happened to the ship's rudder. The steering gear became clogged and in the storm she ran on the bank in spite of the efforts of the wheelman. The steamer came ashore on its beam ends, with only a few feet of water separating the ship from the shore. It was no trick, then, for the crew to escape the wreck, but for a while, they didn't want to.
The shore was a rocky, uninhabited, frozen wasteland. The sailors found more comfort in the ship where there was food and shelter from the storm. Once it hit shore, the ORR was scuttled, so it didn't roll. The steamer was not equipped with radio in 1898, so the crew knew that once the storm was over, someone had to go for help. First mate Thomas Casey and one other unidentified crew member elected to make the trip.
The two came ashore on a life line the next day then walked through snow and ice along the shore to Beaver Bay, a small Canadian community located about nine miles away. It was a long an tiresome trip and the men didn't know the way. They fought the weather and severe winter cold for hours before stumbling into Beaver Bay. When they arrived in the town, the crew members from the ORR were surprised to find sailors there from the steamer TAMPA, who were also there to report the wreck of their ship.
The TAMPA had blown ashore in the same area by the same storm. The owners of the ORR wasted no time in saving the wreck. Lighters were sent to the scene with tugs from Duluth. Much of the cargo was removed, the hull was pumped out, and the steamer was towed back to Duluth on Dec. 1, eight days after it went aground.
The Duluth News Tribune said the ship was listing to starboard when it arrived in the harbor. under tow behind the tugs ZENITH and EXCELSIOR.
"Water (from a steam pump) was pouring out of one of the port gangways. Snow and ice covered the decks." The ORR was rebuilt that winter. The hull was lengthened from 286 feet to 334 feet.
The steamer remained in service until 1947 when it was scrapped. (Article by James Donahue, weekly series run in paper.)
Port Huron Daily Tribune
September 18, 1995
Duluth, Nov. 23. -- The Tonawanda steamer TAMPA, went ashore at Banner Bay yesterday morning during a northwest gale and snow storm, and it is reported she has broken in two. The crew reached here safely. The TAMPA belongs to the D.C. Whitney fleet of Detroit, was built in 1890 and was insured for $80,000
Chicago Inter Ocean
November 24, 1898
It will be noted that the total losses of the present season - 64 vessels of 46,670 net tons' capacity, valued at $1,203,200 - are after all some what below the losses of 1895; but this year the underwriters have suffered heavily in losses on such vessels as the J.H. OUTHWAITE, H.A. BARR, TAMPA, ABERDEEN, ARTHUR ORR, CITY OF ROME, GEORGE PRESLEY, G.B. OWEN and other wrecks, which do not appear in the list of total losses but on which large sums must be paid for wrecking work and still larger items in repair bills. The season was remarkable for its freedom from collisions, and from heavy storms during the early spring and until September, but the mild weather of the summer months was followed by a continuous blow during October, November and December.
The Marine Review
January 5, 1899
Steam screw TAMPA. U. S. No. 145555. oF 1972.08 tons gross; 1632.95 tons net. Built West Bay City, Mich., 1890. Home port, Detroit, Mich. 291.6 x 41.0 x 19.8
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1891