The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Kingston (Steamboat), collision, 11 Aug 1908

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      Accident in Charlotte harbor, Lake Ontario, Through Heroic Work of rescuers, Probable Free From Fatalities.
ROCHESTER, N. Y., Aug. 12. -- With decks crowded with passengers the large steamer KINGSTON of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company, was rammed about 11 o'clock last night by the excursion steamer TITANIA, a boat that plies in Charlotte harbor. That no lives were lost seems probable, although in the crash it is yet possible that someone may have perished. Investigation so far leaves the question an open one.
      One woman is missing this morning and it is feared she was on the TITANIA and did not escape. She is the wife of Capt. Roscoe of the ALGONIA.
      The KINGSTON runs from Toronto, Canada, to Thousands islands, touching at Lewiston, Charlotte and other points on Lake Ontario. The boat, which is one of the largest on the lake, was making the Charlotte port on her way from the islands to Toronto last night, with 450 passengers aboard.
      The TITANIA, which runs from Sea Breeze to Charlotte, had 15 passengers aboard, a regular excursion crowd.
      Both crafts came into collision about 50 feet from the Charlotte Lighthouse pier, when the TITANIA in the lead, tried to cut across the bow of the KINGSTON, to make a dock in advance of the large steamer. The larger boat was rammed on the port side, the smaller craft sinking in about two minutes. The accident will be investigated by the Government Lighthouse Inspection Corps.
The scene along the beach and aboard the two boats was one of confusion intensified by the cries of those precipitated into the water, the shouts of warning from the big boat's decks and the frantic attempts of the small craft in the river to pick up the drowning.
      Capt. Henry Esford of the KINGSTON endeavored to slow up when a collision was seen to be inevitable. Capt. Patrick Thorp, of the TITANIA leaped aboard the excursion boat, followed by several of his passengers. In the meanwhile the sailing yacht JULIA, owned by E. H. Nash of Rochester, went to the rescue, together with the boats of the Life-saving station. A lifeboat from the KINGSTON picked up six women and four men.
Among those rescued by the Life-saving crew were Miss Pena Maxon; J. C. Wile; William H. McQuinway and Peter Hona, of this city, and W. H. Fannins of Boston. Joseph Scoroski of Rochester swam from the west pier and brought one passenger ashore. Five passengers were rescued by Steven Hitchell's launch. Miss Esther Prozeller of Rochester was sinking for the third time, when Miss Elizabeth Abeles of Cady Street, seized her by the hair and held her up until William McQuinvey could pull the two aboard the KINGSTON. She remained in a semi-conscious condition for several hours.
The TITANIA lays in about 12 feet of water. The TITANIA was built in 1877 by H. C. Jewett of buffalo and was purchased a few years ago by Ficht Brothers of that city. Capt. Thorp has command of the boat for four or five seasons.
      If the two boats had collided a short distance further from the pier there would undoubtedly have been loss of life.
      This morning it was declared among boat owners at the lake front that the steering gear of the TITANIA was defective at the time she crashed into the KINGSTON.
      Buffalo Evening News
      August 12, 1908
      . . . . .

      Tonawanda, Sept. 2. -- The steamer Charles Fix with two canal boats in tow as lighters has left Tonawanda for Charlotte via the Welland canal to raise the TITANIA, the steamer recently sunk by a collision with the steamer KINGSTON. Fix Brothers, owners of the TITANIA, have libeled the KINGSTON, but the defending owners have filed a bond for $15,000 and the boat has been released.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 2, 1908
      . . . . .
      Capt. Frederick L. R. Pope and Joseph G. Schumacher of the united States Steamboat Inspection service in this district have completed their investigation of the collision of the steamers TITANIA and KINGSTON in Charlotte harbor, finding that the pilots of both boats were at fault. The license of Capt. Patrick Thorpe of the TITANIA, which is owned by Fix brothers of Buffalo, has been suspended for six months. The master of the steamer KINGSTON, being a British subject does not come under the jurisdiction of the inspectors.
      In their decision the inspectors say, that on the night of August 11 the TITANIA and KINGSTON were entering the Charlotte harbor, the TITANIA bearing from the KINGSTON about four points on the port bow and the KINGSTON bearing from the TITANIA about three points on the starboard bow. Although the vessels were visible to each other when about three or four miles apart, the pilot of neither gave the signals covering a situation of this kind. The decision says in part:
      The preservation of life and property depends largely upon a strict observance of the rules for the government of pilots, and those entrusted with the care of ships should understand that they must be enforced with uniform and absolute certainty.
      " It also appears from the testimony that both these steamers entered the harbor at a rate of speed estimated at from 12 to 15 miles an hour, which was reckless and unskillful navigation in the circumstances and conditions surrounding this particular situation."
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 4, 1908

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Reason: collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
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  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.25506 Longitude: -77.61695
William R. McNeil
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Kingston (Steamboat), collision, 11 Aug 1908