The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Pfohl (Propeller), U23755, fire, 20 May 1903

Full Text

      Crew of the PFOHL Made a Hard Fight, But Were Forced to Lifeboats.
      Goderich, Ont., May 21. -- At 11 O'clock yesterday a lamp exploded in the engine room of the steamer PFOHL in the middle of Lake Huron. A fire resulted, and last night, after fighting the flames for eight hours, the plucky crew of the vessel were driven to take refuge in the lifeboats. The PFOHL soon became a living furnace and within an hour sank. The vessel was abandoned almost within sight of Goderich. One lifeboat was picked up by a rescuing party from shore and the others are, being sought near the scene of the disaster. It is believed that all of the crew are safe.
      The PFOHL, which carried a cargo of coal, was bound for Owen Sound. Her trip up the lakes had been uneventful until the explosion. The weather was perfect from the time the ship passed Detroit at 9:30 o'clock, Tuesday morning.
The explosion in the vessel's hold was followed by a small panic among the twenty men composing the crew. The engineers were driven from their places by flames, and gas, which also drove the firemen from the stoke hold. Capt. Symes organized a fire brigade. With flames filling the engine room it was impossible to work the ship's fire pumps, and buckets were used to fight the flames. Buckets were passed from man to man from the side of the steamer and a constant stream of water was directed against the fire. Shortly before dark the discovery was made that the fire had secured a hold in the ship's cargo. The decks heated rapidly, driving the men toward the forward end of the doomed craft. Meanwhile the, engines, though surrounded by flames, had driven the boat steadily onward and her commander steered for Goderich in hopes of keeping the fire in check until port could be reached. This hope faded, as darkness fell, the pent-up flames in the cargo hold burst through the decks.
      The lifeboats had been prepared and the crew departed the ship in safety, lighted by the flames they started for shore, but in the darkness following the sinking of the vessel, were seperated.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Thursday, May 21, 1903

      . . . . .
      HARD LUCK. - The Marquette Mining Journal says: The propeller St. Paul, though a fine-looking and well-appointed boat, has thus far had a streak of bad luck that, as A. Ward* would say, has been "ekaled by few and excelled by none." On her first trip to Lake Superior last fall, a boiler on her main deck broke loose from its lashings and went overboard near the Huron Islands, after breaking a hole through her side; this spring she got stuck in the mud in the river, and, after a day or two of hard pulling succeeded in getting off, but broke the buckets off her wheel in doing so; and now, on her third trip, just as she arrived at the smelting works' dock, the key holding her wheel to the shaft came out, leaving her powerless to move. The accident was partially repaired on Sunday night. This will be the third and last accident! Capt. H. S. Thompson had retired from the command, and is succeeded by Capt. John McKay, who will do his best to prevent a recurrence of such provoking mishaps.
      Detroit Free Press
      June 12, 1869

      The destruction of the steamer PFOHL does not seem to be very much of a calamity, and it is doubtful if any one will regret it but the insurance companies. She was rebuilt from the old St. PAUL, but turned out to be a much smaller carrier than was expected and it is stated that she ran in debt steadily up to the time she burned. She was insured for $30,000, which it is said to be something more than she cost the owner.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Monday, May 25, 1903
Steam screw St. PAUL.* U. S. No. 23755. Of 760 tons gross. Built Marine City, Mich., 1868. 203.0 x 31.0 x 21.0
      * Renamed PFOHL - U. S. - 1902
      Herman Runge List

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: fire
Lives: nil
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.75008 Longitude: -81.71648
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Pfohl (Propeller), U23755, fire, 20 May 1903