The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
R. J. Hackett (Propeller), U21934, aground & fire, 12 Nov 1905

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Detroit, Nov. 13. -- The steamer R.J. HACKETT burned on Green Bay early Sunday morning and now lies on Whaleback Shoal about ten miles off Cedar River. After doing all they could to subdur the flames the crew abamdoned the vessel and reached Menominee safely. The HACKETT had a cargo of 1,400 tons of coal for Marinette. The news of the disaster came in a dispatch from Capt. H.C. McCallum, who purchased the steamer last spring from the Vulcan Transportation Company of Detroit. The lost steamer was built of wood at Cleveland in 1869 and was 211 feet long, registering 1,129 gross tons. She had a valuation of $16,000, and is believed to have been insured against fire.
      Buffalo Evening News
      November 13, 1905

The "R. J. Hackett" 21934 was built by Peck & Masters at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1869, and named for Captain Robert J. Hackett (1827-1879), one of the principals in the vessel's ownership, which also included Peck. A large wooden freighter for the era, she did serve as the design paradigm for subsequent "lakers," with pilothouse far forward and a midship section devoted to regularly spaced hatches that served large holds; in this vein, she was the first vessel expressly designed and built for the carriage of iron ore on the lakes. She brought the first cargo of iron ore to Cleveland, launching that city's role as a major steel producer, in 1871. She stranded 12 November 1905 on Whaleback Shoal, Green Bay, bound for Marinette, Wisconsin, with coal; while trying to free herself, she caught fire, a total loss.
      William Lafferty, PhD

      When fire destroyed tile freighter R.J. HACKETT on Lake Michigan's Green Bay on Nov. 12. 1905, it brought an end to a slice of Great Lakes history.
Built at Cleveland in 1869 for Capt. Robert J. Hackett the HACKETT was the first laker to be designed specifically as an ore carrier. It was carefully designed with 24 inch hatch centers and continuous cargo holds. Its pilot house was located in the bow and the engine room, plus galley and living quarters to, the engine room crew were at the stern. It was it successful design that became the blueprint for a broad fleet of ore boats that followed.
The HACKETT was the first of several boats owned by Captain Hackett and its launch helped the captain found the Northwestern Transportation Co. The HACKETT also was the first ship to bring a cargo of' iron ore to Cleveland in 1871.
Although its hull was made of wood, the steamer served a distinguished 36-year career. When it caught fire off Cedar River the boat was considered among the oldest of the wooden boats still in service. At the time of the fire, the HACKETT was owned and sailed by Capt. C.C. McCallum of Detroit. The steamer was laden with 1,400 tons. of coal,. bound for Marinette. Wis. when it caught fire in the afternoon. Crew members battled the fire until it was clear that the boat could not be saved. Everyone escaped unharmed in a lifeboat.
      The cause of the fire was never known. The HACKETT sank on Whaleback shoal, near Cedar River.
(Author James Donahue's shipwreck columns appears each week in the Huron Daily Tribune)
      Port Huron Daily Tribune
      By James Donahue

      Steam screw R.J. HACKETT. U. S. No. 21934. Of 1,129 tons gross. Built 1869. On November 12, 1905 vessel burned on Whaleback Shoal , Green Bay, Wis. With 14 persons on board. No lives lost.
      Loss of American Vessels Reported During Fiscal Year, 1906
      Steam screw R.J. HACKETT. U. S. No. 21934. Of 1,129 tons gross; 921 tons net. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1869. Home port, Detroit, Mich. 211.2 x 32.5 x 19.2 Crew of 14. Of 75 indicated horsepower. Freight service.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1904

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Reason: aground & fire
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.35887 Longitude: -87.18678
William R. McNeil
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R. J. Hackett (Propeller), U21934, aground & fire, 12 Nov 1905