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
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
Another steel steamer, the ARTHUR ORR, now badly wrecked and in dock at the West Superior ship yard of the American Steel Barge Co., is to be; lengthened. About 48 feet will be added to the ORR. It is under stood that as a result of the visit to this country recently of Herbert Waite, representing English underwriters, a basis of settlement has been reached with the owners of the ORR, and she is to be repaired and lengthened in time for the opening of navigation next season. The dock bill in the case of this vessel will be very large, as she has been held in dock (she was so badly damaged that she could not be floated) since the close of navigation, pending the settlement with underwriters.
The Marine Review
February 9, 1899
Everybody who has seen the rebuilt steamer ARTHUR ORR, which was wrecked on Lake Superior last fall, but soon released from the beach and repaired during the winter at the works of the Superior Ship Building Co., pronounces her a far better and stronger vessel than she was before the accident. The ORR is not so squatty in appearance since she was lengthened 47 feet. She was given a double sheer stroke, and this, with channel girders on the sides and all damaged material ripped out and made good, has greatly stiffened the vessel. The owners of the ORR, C.W. Elphicke and others of Chicago, settled with the underwriters by taking her back after abandonment at an agreed price. The work of rebuilding her involved an expenditure of probably $50,000.
The Marine Review
June 8, 1899
A note in this column last week referred to the thorough rebuild given the steel steamer ARTHUR ORR at West Superior during the past winter. It was said that the work of lengthening and repairing the vessel probably involved an expenditures of $50,000. "It is true, as you say," says a vessel owner who knows all about bills paid for rebuilding the Orr, "that she is a much stronger vessel than she was before the stranding, but your estimate of the ship yard bills, undoubtedly made off hand, is entirely too low. There was expended on this vessel after she entered the dry dock (no reference to cost of releasing her) full $90,000."
The Marine Review
June 15, 1899
Steam screw ARTHUR ORR. U. S. No. 107005. Of 2,745 tons gross; 2,117 tons net. Built Chicago, Ill., 1893. Home port, Duluth, Minn. 334.0 x 41.3 x 21.8 Steel built. Crew of 20. Freight service. Of 800 indicated horsepower.
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1918