The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), Tue, 27 Nov, 1883

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The foremost of the Clyde-built steel propellers destined for use in the Canadian Pacific Railway upon Lakes Huron and Superior has arrived in Buffalo, and is safe in the Union dry-dock. She is named the Athabasca, and appears to be a real acquisition to the marine of the lakes, especially as she is to be followed by four others, which are said to be exact copies of her. The placing of real Scotch steamers upon the American lakes is such an innovation that, coupled with the novel and sanguinary way of importing them, they have about them an atmosphere of more than usual interest. The Athabasca was built on the Clyde in the short space of four months and went over to Montreal in command of Capt. Ross, reaching that port in October. The next step was to cut her in two 90 feet from her forward end and tow the disjointed pieces to Buffalo. This was made necessary in order to get her through the canals on pontoons between Montreal and this port.

The sundered parts set out together from Montreal on November 1. On the night of November 16, when 40 miles from Kingston, a heavy sea broke down the pontoons on the rear section and severed the tug Active's line. There was prospect of disaster when the tug Porter, happening to be near, came to the rescue, and it was taken safely into South bay, where a stop was made until morning. In the morning the pontoons were set adrift and section of the vessel was turned about and towed stern foremost successfully. The rag ends of the vessel were afterwards placed together and the rudder used for steering the fractured craft. The watertight compartments prevented any danger from leaking. Good weather and good luck favored the expedition across Lake Ontario, and Port Dalhousie was reached on the 17th of November. Here the rear half was found to draw a few inches more than the regulation 12 feet of water. This caused a delay of two days before the extra draft could be counter balanced. Once at Port Colborne the vessel was taken in tow of the tugs Alpha and Williams of Maytham's line, and brought across to the breakwater in four hours.

On Saturday the disjointed steamer was brought into the creek, and yesterday she was got into dry-dock and loosely joined together. It is expected that about ten days will be taken in mending her up, when she will appear just as built. Of the other four steamers of the line, tow, the Algoma and the Alberta, are already on their way up from Kingston. The former is expected to arrive here tomorrow. After being put together the steamers, weather permitting, will be sent forward to some convenient Canadian port, Collingwood probably, and their cabins put in. These are already built at Montreal. They will extend to within 20 feet of the whole length of the vessels and three feet of the bulwarks. The line is to run daily for passengers and freight between Algoma Mills and Port Arthur in order to connect the disjointed parts of Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Athabasca, like those to follow her, is 270 feet long and 38 feet beam. She is of steel throughout, even her upper is lined with it, and she has five water tight compartments. Of our own iron boats she is perhaps most like the Jewett, being much cut away and calculated for speed. It is claimed that she has run ten miles an hour with 34 pounds of steam, when she can carry 122 pounds. Her high pressure cylinder is 73 inches and her low pressure cylinder is 34 inches with four foot stroke. The boilers and engine alone weight 220 tons. One peculiar feature is the wheel, which is in sections, each blade bolting to the shaft separately. She has six heavy lifeboats of finest build on board. There are two spars, each of steel, provided with cross-trees that can be put in position by fitting a groove in them to a ridge running up the mast and hoisting to place. The last two vessels of the line are not to be sent across from Scotland until spring. - [Buffalo Express, Sunday.

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The vessel was built at Aitken & Mansell shipbuilders, Kelvinghaugh, Glasgow, and operated for CPR her entire career until scrapped in 1947. The engine was a direct acting vertical inverted compound of 300 horsepower, built by David Power, Glasgow. The spelling of her name was officially changed to ATHABASKA in 1903.
Date of Original:
Tue, 27 Nov, 1883
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Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), Tue, 27 Nov, 1883