The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
New York (Propeller), collision, 21 Oct 1891

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Detroit, Oct. 22. -- At 7:30 o'clock last night the Anchor Line steamer CONEMAUGH and the NEW YORK of the Union Line came into collision in the Detroit River, a short distance below Smith's coal dock, resulting in the sinking of the CONEMAUGH in a few minutes. She lies close to the bank on the Canada side, with the top of her cabin just above water. The cause of the disaster was probably due to misunderstanding of signals.
      At the time they were passing the steam barge BURLINGTON with four barges in tow was rounding to at Smith's dock. She exchanged two whistles with the CONEMAUGH, which starboarded so as to pass astern of the tow. The NEW YORK was coming up just below, and the boats came together astern of the BURLINGTON tow with terrible force.
The CONEMAUGH has 1,850 tons of flour and other package freight, and was bound from Chicago to Buffalo. She is a wooden steamer, built at Bay City in 1883 and valued at $80,000. She can be raised, but it will be expensive work.
The NEW YORK is but little damaged and will proceed to Chicago.
The Anchor Line agent is making an examination of the CONEMAUGH today. The NEW YORK struck her on the starboard side at the forward gangway. The NEW YORK was not damaged and left for Chicago this morning.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      Thursday, October 22, 1891
      Just below Smith's coal dock, Detroit river, and on the Canadian bank, the Anchor Line steamer CONEMAUGH lie's sunk as the result of a collision with the NEW YORK of the Union Line. The tow of the steamer BURLINGTON rounding up to the coal dock and probably a misunderstanding of signals, were causes of the collision. The CONEMAUGH is valued at 80,000 and has 1,8 5o tons of flour and other merchandise.
      The Marine Review
      October 22, 1891

      The Anchor Line, owning the propeller CONEMAUGH, caused the propeller NEW YORK to be libeled at Detroit last week in the sum of $70,000 for the sinking of the CONEMAUGH in Detroit River. Oct. 21.
      The Marine Review
      November 19, 1891

      Decisions in Collision Cases of Long Standing.
      The collision between the steamers CONEMAUGH and NEW YORK, which occurred in the Detroit river near Sandwich, Ont. Oct. 21 1891. has been finally determined by the United States supreme court, both vessels being held in fault. The experience of this case has been somewhat varied. In the district court, first both vessels were held at fault. On petition for rehearing, in view of a then recent decision of the United States supreme court, the district judge modified his finding and held the NEW YORK solely at fault. 'The case was appealed and the United States court of appeals for the sixth circuit reversed the district court and held the CONEMAUGH solely at fault. Ordinarily this would have been the final determination. Petition for rehearing was filed in the United States court of appeals on behalf of the CONEMAUGH, but rehearing was denied. Application was then made to the United States supreme court for writ certiorari, which was granted, on the ground that there were questions involved in the case which were of great general importance, and as to which there was error in the decision of the circuit court of appeals. The case was fully argued in the supreme court and in an opinion handed down Monday of this week both steamers are again held in hurt.
      The questions submitted to the court, aside from the matter of fault as between the two vessels, call for determination of the character of the great lakes, whether they are high seas or not, within the meaning of the act of 1885 establishing sailing regulations (the: international code) and a': to whether the United States or Canadian sailing rules are applicable to United States vessels when meeting in Canadian waters on the great lakes. The opinion of the court will probably be obtained in time for publication in the next issue of the Review. The NEW YORK was represented in the supreme court by C. E. Kremer of Chicago and H. C. Wisner of Detroit, and the CONEMAUGH by Messrs. Goulder and Masten of Cleveland and F. H. Canfield of Detroit.
      Marine Review
      November 23, 1899

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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Uninjured
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.28318 Longitude: -83.05925
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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New York (Propeller), collision, 21 Oct 1891