The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Barge 115 (Barge), U53268, aground, 13 Dec 1899

Full Text

Whaleback Barge 115, which parted her tow-line and broke away from the steamer COLGATE HOYT, in the gale on Lake Superior, Wednesday Morning, December 15, has been given up for lost, with nine men, three of whom, are Captain Arthur A. Boyce, Mate Michael Stynop and cook Wm. Buckner.
The search was given up yesterday, when the HOYT passed through the "Soo" locks bound down to Lake Erie, and the tug VIGILANT tied up at the Soo.
This whaleback was built at West Superior in 1891, and was 256 feet long and 56 feet beam. She had 3,000 tons of ore and was worth $50,000.
The Captain of the HOYT says that a furious, cold north-easter was encountered in Lake Superior, and for 40 hours the HOYT and tow made slow headway. When near the lower end of the lake, the course was shifted to the south, and the shore line was skirted for shelter. On Tuesday it was noticed that the crew of the 115 were at the pumps, and the water thrown out was coloured with iron ore. She gave no distress signal.
At 6 o'clock Wednesday morning the tow's lights were burning. Five munites later it was reported that the tow was adrift, and the HOYT put about and searched four hours. Scarcity of coal forbade longer delay. The lifeboats and rafts of the barge were either washed away or frozen fast to the deck and were useless.
Two additional members of the crew are known to have been T.S. Graham and Albert Wheeler, of Chatham. Oscar Buckner the cook is from Sandwich, Ontario, and Captain Boyce hails from Henderson, Jefferson county, N. Y.
A second tow was in the same storm and the barge also broke adrift, but was afterwards picked up and reached port safely.
      Marine Record
      December 21 ,1899

      . . . . .

      The whaleback Barge 115, which was generally given up for lost on Lake Superior last week, has been found ashore on Pic Island, Ontario, north shore of Lake Superior. After stranding, her crew managed to get ashore and reached here this week. The cook had his feet frost-bitten, otherwise the men pulled through their great hardship in fairly good style. An expedition is now after the barge to learn whether she is in a fit state to be towed into port. The greatest credit is due Messrs. Pickands, Mather & Co., the Minnesota Steamship Co., for their unceasing efforts to find the castaway vessel and her crew, as well as their great kindness and liberality to the men after they turned up all right.
      Marine Record.
      December, 28, 1899

      . . . . .

      Wrecked On The North Shore Of Lake Superior.
As might have been expected, the crew of the whaleback barge 115. wrecked on the north shore of Lake Superior had a thrilling experience in that wilderness. A part of the story, as told by Mate M. J. Lynip, is as follows:
      "It was about noon on Monday, Dec 18, when the barge. after floating around Lake Superior for five days, drifted ashore on what we afterwards found to be Pic island. Where the barge grounded the land is very bold and rises from the water's edge 500 or 600 feet and even higher in places. The barge began to pound heavily and we were afraid that she would knock a hole in herself. There was a little life raft on top of the after turret (our life boat had been carried away before we were separated from the steamer) and we used this to get ashore. First two of the men went ashore and made a landing, and then sent the raft back and forth until we were all ashore. The cook was just baking bread when we went ashore and we were unable to take this with us. The shore was a couple of hundred feet from the boat and quite a sea was running. Some of the men took extra clothes with them and in the party we had two loaves of bread and a ham, besides our pockets full of candles. There were some provisions left aboard the boat but we had no time to get these and could not have carried them if we had, as the snow was very deep on the land We landed in a small cove and began to climb up the steep bluff.. We caught hold of roots and stones and the small evergreen trees which grew among the rocks and at last reached the top. We thought at this time that we were ashore on the mainland. The snow was about three feet deep, but the weather was not as cold as on the water. The first night we camped in the woods and the next day we started along the shore line. It was then that we found that we were on an island. As we followed the shore we came across a log cabin about 8 o'clock in the afternoon. It was without a roof and had a part of an old sheet iron stove. We had taken ashore from the barge an axe and some matches and we all started to cut boughs and make a roof for the shanty and to make a fire in the stove. We stayed in the shanty Tuesday night, and it was here that the steward's. feet were so badly frozen. Wednesday morning we could see the main land, about three miles away. We ripped the old shanty down and made a raft-with which to get ashore on the mainland. The raft was not large enough to hold all of the men, and sank knee deep in the water when we all boarded her, but we started out and after drifting a couple of miles down the shore, making our trip about five miles in all, we landed. As soon as the raft struck the shore she- went to pieces. There was lots of snow on the mainland, but we built a fire and camped in the bush all night. Thursday morning we started out and walked all day along the shore to the west. Our provisions were giving out, and we had about half a slice-of wet bread and two ounces of raw ham each. That night we camped in the bush again, and Friday morning, after walking until 11 o'clock, and after struggling four days in search of human beings, we struck tine: backs of the Canadian Pacific road. Here we ate the last of the provisions which we had with us. At last we met two section hands, who told us that the nearest town was Middletown. a mile and a half away. We reached the railroad station at Middletown about noon on Friday. The-agent there did all he could for us, fed us, gave us a place to sleep, and dressed the steward's feet. The he captain then wired to the company of our arrival. The Canadian Pacific people took good care of us."
      Marine Review
      December 28, 1899
      . . . . .
      Whaleback Barge 115, which went ashore on Pic Island, on the north shore of Lake Superior, will spend the winter where she lies. Captain N. W. Smith agent for the owners at Sault Ste.Marie reports that the boat has sustained extensive damages and that it will not be praeticable to try to release her this winter. The wrecking expedition that it was intended to send from the Sault and Marquette will not be ordered out. The steel steamer HARLEM came out of the "Winter quarter" on the rocky shore of Isle Royale in pretty good shape this fall and the whaleback may be equally fortunate next season if she does not founder in deep water.
      Marine Record
      January 4, 1900

Cleveland, May 24. -- The Bessemer Steamship Co., today received a dispatch from Capt. W.W. Smith at Port Colwell stating that whaleback barge 115, which went ashore at Pic Island, Lake Superior, last December is a total wreck. The crew saved themselves after being given up for dead, after a long tramp through the uninhabited region along the north shore of Lake Superior.
      Milwaukee Wisconsin
      May 25, 1900

      . . . . .
Whaleback Barge 115, which went ashore on Pic Island last fall is a total wreck.
      Marine Record
      May 31, 1900
      . . . . .

      115. Built August 15, 1891 Whale Barge - Steel
U.S. No. 53268. 1169 gt - 1110 nt 256.0 x 36.0 x 18.9
      Stranded ob Pic Island, Lakw Superior, December 13, 1899.
      American Barge Co. Superior, Wis., Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: iron ore
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 48.708888 Longitude: -86.6225
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.

Barge 115 (Barge), U53268, aground, 13 Dec 1899