The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sophia Smith (Barge), aground, 9 Sep 1875

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The September Gale.-- On Thursday and Friday of last week a terrible gale raged on the lakes, causing many disasters Besides the loss of the EQUINOX many other vessels were wrecked or damaged. The schooner JOHN DUNN went ashore at Chicago Friday night and will prove a total loss. She was built last season at a cost of $23,600 and was insured for $12,000. The schooner MAJOR FERRY and scow-schooner M.J. GAINES also went ashore at the same time and place. The bark TANNER sank off Milwaukee, her master, Capt. Howard, being drowned. The schooner ONEONTA was driven into the north pier at Chicago Friday night, her master, Capt. Sam Bean, being drowned. The bark CITY OF BUFFALO, ore laden, while passing through the St. Mary's River struck a rock and began leaking. Upon her arrival at Sand Beach, Lake Huron, there was six feet of water in her hold. The vessel was beached and sunk in sixteen feet of water. The crew was saved The scow THOMAS RICHARDS of Detroit is on the beach near Port Hope, Lake Huron. Her crew were saved. The tug RESCUE was unable to tow the schooner FAREWELL through and beached her near Marine City in the St. Clair River, where her grain will be transferred. The tug MAYFLOWER with six barges in tow was caught in the severe gale opposite Port Austin and cut loose all of her tow but two, the EDWARD KEAN and the SPAULDING. Three of those cast adrift dropped anchors but dragged them, owing to the violence of the gale, and drifted on to the Port Austin reef. The SOPHIA SMITH, being light, went on broadside against the rocky shore and her crew without much difficulty stepped off on the land. The crews of the barges on the Port Austin reef were taken off by shore boats. Numerous other reports of lost deck loads, serious leaks and carrying away of sails and rigging of vessels on Lake Michigan were received and the general opinion expressed was that the storm of Thursday and Friday and its effects is the most serious that has taken place on the lakes for many years.
      Amherstburg Echo
      September 17, 1875
      . . . . .

FLOATING COFFINS. -- Much indignation is very properly being manifested in view of the fact that human life is being constantly risked by the running of old rotten hulks on the Lakes, and these old crafts, which are well known, while condemned by the public, if not by the Inspectors and there owners, may finally be convinced that it will be ultimately cheaper to rebuild them, or throw them to the fishes as they are likely to get any quantity of free advertising. The Huron County NEWS, takes the following sensible view of the question:- "One of the stranded barges on the shore near this place furnished an example of the urgent need of something being done to remedy a growing evil. The barge referred to -- the SOPHIA SMITH in coming in against the rocks received such injuries as to reveal her true condition, and apparently there is hardly a sound timber or plank about her. Where she is broken the rotten timber can be picked away in pieces, leaving the iron bolts standing out, bare and exposed. Any law or regulation permitting the sending cut of such floating coffins as the one referred to must be seriously defective, and that there are many others in constant use almost or fully as bad we have every reason to believe. We think too, the system now so much in vogue of towing barges needs looking after. The number of these that any tug or other steam craft may take in tow, should be limited. It is not unusual to see in one tow, six and eight barges, which are almost helpless in a storm when cast off by a tug. Two or at most three would be enough for safety. A large number of accidents are each season occurring because of the tug taking on more than it can manage if the weather becomes in the least rough. And yet there will always be owners willing to take the chances on twenty four or forty-eight hours of good weather, and risk the lives of the sailors, unless restrained by law..
      Toronto Daily GLOBE
      Friday, October 1, 1875

      . . . . .
      WRECKING. -- The tug J. J. HAGERMAN, with steam pumps, left Milwaukee the 25th, for Kenosha, to render assistance to the scow SUPPLY, ashore there. The vessel settled down in the sand in about five feet of water.
      The barges E. F. GOULD and SOPHIA SMITH, which stranded on the rocks at Point au Barques, Lake Huron, last September, remain about as they were left at the close of navigation. The steamer W. E. QUIMBY, and tugs and lighters from Bay City made an attempt to get the GOULD off last week, but failed. A portion of the vessel lies in three feet of water, and she is firmly pinioned to the reef by the rocks through her bottom. The SMITH is not worth saving, and will be left to follow the fate of her consorts, the SHELDON and MERRIMAC, which went to pieces last fall.
      Cleveland Herald
      Saturday, May 27, 1876
      . . . . .
      FROM PORT AUSTIN. -- Our correspondent writes: The barge SOPHIA SMITH was sold at the wharf at noon today for $2.40. The tackle, sails, compass, lights, etc., sold for $54.50, the total for the barge and outfit bringing $56.90. George S. Engle was the purchaser.
      Cleveland Herald
      Thursday, June 8, 1876

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Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 44.04613 Longitude: -82.99411
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Sophia Smith (Barge), aground, 9 Sep 1875