The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
F. L. Danforth (Schooner), collision, 24 Oct 1876

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LOSS OF THE NORTHWEST. -- The Chicago Post of the 25th says:
The following dispatch appeared in the 4 o'clock edition of the Post yesterday.
      Racine, Oct. 24. -- This morning about 4 o'clock, when off Racine the schooners NORTHWEST and F. L. DANFORTH came together. The NORTHWEST sank soon after, and it is feared she is a total loss, as nothing can be seen of her but the tops of her masts. The NORTHWEST was bound for Buffalo, with 30,000 bushels of corn, the property of W. T. Baker & Co., of Chicago, which is partly insured in the Marine Insurance Union, of Chicago, and Eastern companies. The vessel was owned by Captain W. M. Egan and Captain Cal Carr, of Chicago, valued at $15,000 and insured for $10,000, and came out in 1862. [ The DANFORTH came in this afternoon with the crew of the NORTHWEST]- Ed.
      Cleveland Herald
      Friday, October 27, 1876
A collision, resulting in the loss of a fine vessel and a valuable cargo, occurred ten or twelve miles off Kenosha, before daylight (about 4 o'clock) yesterday morning. The colliding craft were the schooner F. L. DANFORTH, Captain Woodruff, coal loaded and bound for Chicago, and the schooner NORTHWEST, Captain Midlam, with a grain cargo, bound out of Chicago for Buffalo. The night was clear, and, as the statement goes, the lights of the DANFORTH were seen by the NORTHWEST half an hour before the vessel's came together. Which master was to blame THE INTER OCEAN does not propose to pass upon.
The wind at the time was north-west, and the schooner NORTHWEST was close-hauled and by the wind, heading north-north east. The DANFORTH came stem on, and, striking the NORTHWEST on the port bow, cut into her hull almost to the fore-mast. Both large vessels and heavily laden, the concussion was tremendous, and as it was evident in an instant that the NORTHWEST must sink the captain and crew took to the DANFORTH, and saw their fine vessel go to the bottom, head foremost. For fully a minute she stood head down with thirty feet of her keel aft, above the surface, and then settled into an upright position on the bottom, only the tops of her spars remaining in view. Fifteen minutes from the time the DANFORTH struck her the NORTHWEST sunk. The DANFORTH was not damaged in hull to any extent, although for some time after the accident the gravest fears were entertained as to her condition. She escaped with the loss of her bob-stays, cutwater, and square-sail yard.
      After the NORTHWEST had sunk the DANFORTH proceeded on her way to this port and arrived yesterday afternoon.
      The cargo of the lost vessel, about 29,000 bushels of corn was owned and shipped by W.T. Baker & Co., and was consigned to William Meadows of Buffalo, It is insured as follows: Traders, $5,000. Orient, $5,000. Pacific Mutual, $4,500. The vessel was owned by the Hon. Wiley M. Egan, of this city. She measured 458 tons [?] and was built by Peck and Masters, at Cleveland in 1862. She received large repairs and was refastened in 1873. At this time she was also supplied with new masts and standing rigging throughout, and changed from bark to three-an-aft schooner. Her value was $19,000, with insurance as follows: Northwestern National of Milwaukee, $2,500. Brewers and Maltsters, $2,500. Mercantile, $2,500.
      With the loss of the NORTHWEST ends the successful career of one of the finest sailing vessels on the lakes and one of the fleetest, if not the fleetest.
      Extraordinary pains were taken when she was constructed, in the selection of timber, and in every most minute detail to bring out a model craft, and Messrs. Peck & Masters, aided by Captain Arthur Atkins, who sailed her five years. Succeeded beyond their most sanguine expectations. She at once took her place first as a carrier (for her measurement) and as a fast sailor, and she has never been surpassed. The master of any vessel which by any accident or caprice of the wind succeeded in passing the NORTHWEST was sure to brag of the fact, so well were her sailing qualities known. One season, two or three years ago, she made eleven round trips between Chicago and Buffalo, something never done by any other sail vessel. Captain Cal Carr succeeded captain Atkins in command, then came Captain George McLeod, and then captain Midlam, every one of them A navigators. Captains Atkins and Carr, who are now well known as Insurance men in Chicago. On receipt of the news of the disaster yesterday afternoon mingled their grief at the loss of the 'old ship' and were the most eager ones to learn of the details. In a conversation with the marine reporter last evening in regard to the vessel, Captain Atkins throat actually filled up, and the reported is very much mistaken if he did no see two or three big tears. The Captain loved the vessel, and feel almost as if he had lost a member of his family.
      The J. W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, Oct., 1876

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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 42.72613 Longitude: -87.78285
William R. McNeil
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F. L. Danforth (Schooner), collision, 24 Oct 1876