Lakeland (Propeller), U126420, sunk, 3 Dec 1924
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Capt. John McNealy nearly died with the steamer LAKELAND when the freighter foundered off Sturgeon Bay, Wis.. on Dec. 3, 1924. A story in the Detroit Free Press said that if it hadn't been for the persistence of Capt. A.L. Larson, master of the passing Ann Arbor Car Ferry No. 6. Capt. McNealy and four faithful members of the LAKELAND's crew who stayed behind in a last ditch attempt to save the ship, might have gone to a watery death. Larson said he sounded a warning whistle repeatedly before persuading the five to abandon the sinking boat. From his vantage point, he said the LAKELAND had an ominous list that betrayed the seriousness of her plight. He had no doubt this 280 foot passenger and freight hauler was about to sink.
He was right. Within minutes after Captain McNealy and the rest of his crew left the wreck, the LAKELAND raised her bow high in the air and slid stern first into the murky depths of Lake Michigan. The sailors said they heard muffled explosions from somewhere amidships as the wooden cabins blew apart from the changing air and water pressure. Someone on the car carrier had a camera and got dramatic pictures of the sinking.
The LAKELAND was steaming north from Chicago to Detroit with her decks full of new automobiles on Dec. 2 when some of the steel plates buckled in heavy seas and the ship sprung a leak. Captain McNealy anchored the vessel in the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal that night and waited for better weather. At the time the pumps were keeping up with the water and McNealy said the LAKELAND was not in trouble.
He put the boat back on its course about 1 a.m. when he thought the storm was abating. The tempest wasn't over, however. After fighting stiff northwest winds and seas for several hours, the leak got worse and the rising water got ahead of the pumps.
At 9:30 a.m.. when Car Ferry No. 6 came along, the LAKELAND was adrift and showing a serious list to starboard. The crew was preparing to lower [he life boats. The LAKELAND had ties with Fort Huron during much of its 37-year history. It was owned by the Port Huron and Duluth Steamship Co. and later the Northwestern Steamship Co.. both of Port Huron between 1910 and 1918. In 1919. the boat was converted to be an automobile carrier and package freighter at the Wolverine Dry Dock Co.. Port Huron. It was owned and operated by Tri-State 4s Steamship Co. of Port Huron until the day it sank.
The ship was first called the CAMBRIA when launched in 1887 in Cleveland. That year the CAMBRIA went on the record as the second steel ship ever built on the Great Lakes.
The wreck lies in 210 feet of water, about nine miles from Algoma. Wis. The cargo of 1924 automobiles is still on its decks. (Article by James Donahue, weekly series run in paper.)
Port Huron Daily Tribune
Steam screw LAKELAND. * U.S. No. 126420. Of 2,425 tons gross; 1,813 tons net. Built at Cleveland, Ohio., in 1887. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 280.0 x 40.0 x 20.0 and a crew of 30. Passenger service. Of 1,200 indicated horse power. Built of iron.
* formerly steam screw CAMBRIA.
Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1911
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- Reason: sunk
Remarks: Total loss
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Wisconsin, United States
- William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes