The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
David W. Mills (Propeller), U115242, aground, 11 Aug 1919

Full Text

Steamer MILLS Went Ashore on Ford Shoal
      Heavy Smoke Screen on the Lake Responsible for the Accident - Steamer in
      Command of Captain Lanagan, was Bound Light from Montreal to Sodus
The steamer DAVID W. MILLS, Captain Matt Lanagan of this city, went ashore on the Ford Shoals reef this morning at 4:45 o'clock in a dense bank of smoke, that settled over the lake yesterday and which is said to be due to the forest fires in Northwest Ontario.
The MILLS was engaged in trade between Sodus Point and Montreal, carrying soft coal. She was bound light from Montreal and came up the river last evening. There was a heavy smoke screen on the lake, caused by forest fires in Canada. After running to pick up either the Oswego or Fair Haven light, and thus lay her course for Sodus, the steamer got a little too close to Ford Shoal and while going at full speed made the hurdle, landing in deep water on the shore side, with a twisted shaft and a broken propeller. The boat can be released just as quickly as a boat can be secured to go to her.
The MILLS is about half a mile from the shore, opposite the farm residence of George H. Evans. After the boat struck Captain Lanagan put ashore in the small boat and notified the Coast Guard station by telephone and Captain Everett Clemens and the crew went to the scene of the accident in a power boat.
The accident was one of those unavoidable ones that was caused by an abnormal condition on the lake. Captain Lanagan knew the course perfectly and with any kind of clear weather would not have gotten upon the shoal, but the smoke hid every landmark and made it impossible to locate his position in the lake. He knew that he was close to the south shore, and that he was following the compass course that would take him into Sodus Harbor, but a compass course does not always follow.
Besides the wind was from the west and the Mills being light it was natural that she would fall off a little from the course laid down for the run. There is about twenty feet of water on the inside of the shoal, where the MILLS lies and there is a possibility of her being taken off, unless the wind should come down the lake, in which event she would probably break up on the shore.
The MILLS is an old wooden steamer, 202 feet long on the keel and was built in 1874. She has a tonnage of 1,200 feet, is 34 feet beam and draws 13 1-2 feet of water aft, and about four feet forward. There is about five feet of water over the shoal, and going checked down the boat would easily slide her entire length over the rock. In that way her wheel became broken and her shaft twisted so that it was impossible to use the engine.
But for that, she might be worked out of her present position under her own power.
      Oswego Daily Times
      Monday, August 11, 1919

      . . . . .

      Steamer MILLS High and Dry on Ford Shoals
      Captain Peterson, one of the Owners, Arrived Here Today and is Making an
      Inspection of the Wreck This Afternoon - Went Up with Coast Guard Boat
Frank J. Peterson, Cleveland, O., one of the firm of Peterson & Collins, owners of the steamer DAVID W. MILLS, which lays high and dry on Ford Shoals, arrived here this morning and during the day took a drive out to Snake Swamp to look over the wreck. The MILLS is high and dry on the shoal. The bows are over in deep water but the stern is out high and dry, showing the wheel and the shoe. It is questioned by some whether the boat can be released without tearing her to pieces, and then it will be necessary to make temporary repairs and take the hull to Kingston, Ont., to be patched up, or if not there to Buffalo. There is no dry dock here upon which she can be taken from the water for repair.
This morning the boat still had steam up and the crew or part of them at least, are aboard awaiting for final instructions. If the boat is to be wrecked they will remain with her and if she is to be stripped and abandoned they will stay until the work has been completed.
Captain Clemens of the Coast Guard station, took Captain Peterson up to the wreck. The lifesavers have stuck by the wreck ever since she went on the shoal ready to render any assistance at a moment's notice. With almost any kind of sea the MILLS is liable to get a good heavy roll from the surf and if it comes in good and heavy it will probably wash her off and up onto the gravely beach at the mouth of Snake Creek.
The loss of the boat or the wrecking of her will fall directly upon the owners as they carried their own insurance. Until Captain Peterson returns sometime this afternoon, it is not known what will be done towards wrecking the boat. Under ordinary conditions it is believed that she would be left to pound herself to pieces, but the scarcity of freight boats and the high rates paid for carrying coal makes the loss of a single bottom something to be deplored and a double loss to the owners.
Captain Peterson will confer with Captain Hinckley tonight and see what can be done towards wrecking the MILLS.
      Oswego Daily Times
      Tuesday, August 12, 1919

      . . . . .

      Steamer MILLS May Be Abandoned
      Underwriters are Coming Today to Take Over the Boat
The crew of the steamer D.W. MILLS ashore on Ford Shoal, were taken off by the Coast Guard crew yesterday afternoon and landed at Parsons' ship chandlery store where they were paid off. Two men, besides Captain Lanagan remained aboard the MILLS last night, keeping up the fires.
Today the underwriters are expected here when the boat will be turned over to them by the owners. It is said that she carries an insurance of $15,000.
Measurements show that the MILLS went 200 feet out on the ledge of the rock. It is going to be some job to pull her back into deep water.
      Oswego Daily Times
      Thursday, August 14, 1919

      Wrecking the Mills
      Captain Filson Says He has Received No Word of the Sale of the Steamer
Captain D. H. Filson, representing Smith Brothers, underwriters, Cleveland, O., said this morning that he has received no information concerning the sale of the steamer David W. Mills which went ashore during the dense fog that prevailed during the early morning of August 11, to Donnelly Wrecking Company of Kingston, Ont.
Mr. Filson said that the Underwriters and owners of the Mills combined were trying to secure the service of some company who could remove the boat from the shoals, but as yet were unsuccessful. Mr. Filson asked that an option has been asked and that he thought a deal would be closed this week and the work started soon.
Those who have been to the wreck recently say that the Mills is little damaged and that a couple of powerful tugs with lines long enough and strong enough would have little difficulty in pulling the steamer off the ledge of rocks at Ford Shoals into deep water.
      Oswego Daily Times
      Thurs., Aug. 21, 1919

      Inspected The Steamer Mills
      Captain Filson and Captain Smith in Kingston Today Conferring with Wrecking Company
Captain LaBeau of the LaBeau Wrecking Company, Toledo, O., was here yesterday and with Captain Smith of Cleveland, O., made an inspection of the steamer David W. Mills, ashore on Ford Shoals, west of this city.
The heavy seas in the lake yesterday and last night must have bumped the steamer about on the shoal pretty well; but just what damage has resulted is not known. Captain D.H. Filson, who has been representing the underwriters here left last night for Kingston, Ont. It is understood that he will have a talk with the officers of the Donnelly Wrecking Company regarding the floating of the steamer.
Captain Smith is one of the firm of Smith Brothers, Underwriters, Cleveland. The Donnelly Company made an offer to take the boat off and Captain Filson will talk the matter over with the company¹s representatives. It is desired to get at the work just as quickly as possible, as any day a gale of wind may come down the lake that will seriously damage the boat.
      Oswego Daily Times
      Aug. 27, 1919

      . . . . .

      Steamer MILLS Broken Up
      Piece of the Stem and Machinery Still Standing on the Shoal - Bow Went Yesterday
The heavy seas running in the lake yesterday afternoon and last night smashed the big steamer DAVID MILLS ashore on Ford Shoals into pieces.
The after part of the boat, weighted down by the big screw, engine and other machinery, was still on the rock last night at sunset, but the bow end was headed for the beach in front of the Summer cottage of Rev. E.G. Quade, where men and boys were getting it ashore and picking up the timbers for firewood. The top sides of the boat are dry and ready for use, and with cross saws the men are rapidly reducing the oak timbers so that it may be used for fire wood.
From the beach in the rear of the Evans farm the machinery of the boat could plainly be seen. The engine is as good as the day it came from the shop it is said and the big Scotch marine boiler was in good shape when the freighter went on the shoal. So far no effort has yet been made to salvage the machinery. From the looks of things today it would be easier to do that now than any time since the boat went on.
      Oswego Daily Times
      Tuesday, October 7, 1919

      . . . . .

      Big Squad Out to Gather it in as Steamer on Ford Shoals Broke in Two, Some Worked All Night
      The steamer MILLS, which went ashore on Ford Shoals several weeks ago, and for the past two weeks has been on the verge of going to pieces, broke in two yesterday afternoon and the shore along Beach oswego toward evening was well strewn with her planking. Shortly after dusk a large portion of the bow of the boat came ashore and was secured by two men who were engaged in salvaging the wreckage.
They tied the boat to a rock near shore and before morning had the entire piece stripped. Other men labored all night picking up wood and dragging it to safe spots, where it was carted away by teams. The men worked all through the night and were well paid for their labors. They now have a backyard full of lumber that will make excellent kindling for the Winter.
Some of the men even went so far as to walk into the wear clothes and all in order to secure the wood as it came ashore, before the others. All that remains of the MILLS is a section of the stern, where the boilers are located.
The MILLS was stripped of her gear, boats and light fixtures a couple of weeks ago, and the LeBeau Wrecking Company has the contract for removing her boiler and engines.
      Oswego Palladium
      Tuesday, October 7, 1919

      Steam screw SPARTA. U. S. No 115242. Of 107.19 tons gross; 741.33 tons net. Built Cleveland, O., 1874. Home port, Cleveland, O. Of 766 nominal horsepower. 202.0 x 34.0 x 18.0.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

Steam screw DAVID W. MILLS.* U.S. No. 115242. Of 925 tons gross; 654 tons net. Built at Cleveland, Ohio in 1874. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 202.0 x 34.0 x 13.2 Crew of 12. Freight service.
      * Formerly steam screw SPARTA.
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1909

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.44257 Longitude: -76.58661
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.

David W. Mills (Propeller), U115242, aground, 11 Aug 1919