The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
George L. Lamont (Tug), capsized, 15 Mar 1880

Full Text

On March 16, 1880 it was reported that the small (5 gt.) local tug GEORGE L. LAMONT had been lost off Pentwater, Michigan, Lake Michigan, as the result of a race to Ludington and back to Pentwater, to settle a bet of $25 with the crew of the rival tug GEM (9.5 gt). The GEM arrived at Ludington and returned, but even though horsemen scoured the coast, the LAMONT and her three-man crew could not be seen. That evening she was found by the GEM, upside-down, off Pentwater.

      The Craft Founders and All on Board are Lost
Pentwater, March 15. - The principal facts relative to the loss of the tug Lamont remain as first stated, , but are modified somewhat by fuller details. It is now claimed that the principal object of the trip to Ludington on the part of the Gem was to take a pattern to the iron works in that city, and the Lamont was to have remained there to have legs put under the boiler. On the other hand it is not disputed that a bet of $25 was offered by Capt. Lamont on Saturday that the tug Lamont could leave the wire at the Pentwater ferry, turn under the wire at Ludington ferry and return to the starting point ahead of the Gem. The engineer of the Gem took the bet, $10 was put up by each as a forfeit, and the remainder put up by them on Sunday morning. The sea was running high when the church bell rang the hour of 9, and the captain of the Gem says he tried to persuade Capt. Lamont not to go out, and in return was taunted as "a coward," and his tug as "an old pepper box." Further words only drew forth the reply, "if you can go, I can." It appears that the captain of the Gem would not be bluffed, and the tugs started off, turning back to start again on account of the Gem taking the lead when crossing the wire. The second time the signal was given the tugs passed the wire together, but the Lamont fell back as the mouth of the channel was reached and the Gem went out into Lake Michigan ahead. Seeing that the rival tug outlived the heavy sea Capt. Lamont followed, and, although it seemed at first that his tug must inevitably be swamped, after a time apprehensions ceased and the crowd on the piers dispersed. The captain of the Gem says that the Lamont turned back after running a mile and a half and the engineer blew the whistle of the Gem twice. The Lamont then headed for Ludington again, but after a while turned back again and was lost to sight. When last seen by those on the Gem she showed no signs of distress. No one lives to tell more. It is said that Capt. Lamont was somewhat under the influence of liquor when he first offered the challenge, and in his sober moments would not go back on what he then said. The loss of his son George, a fine, manly lad of 13, is greatly deplored, while it is felt that Capt. Lamont and (engineer) Palmer Hill were more directly responsible for their deeds and have paid the penalty of rashness with their lives. The Lamont lost during the night of Sunday and has righted, but the sea is yet too high to permit any one to reach her. No bodies have yet been found. All are given up as lost. The crew consisted of Capt. Lamont, his son George, 13 years of age, and Palmer Hill. Capt. Lamont leaves a large family and Palmer Hill a wife.
      Detroit Post and Tribune
      Tues., March 16, 1880

      A Sunday Race For Twenty-five Dollars With Death For The Final Referee.
Pentwater, Mich., March 15. -- The tug boats GEO. L. LAMONT and GEM started from this place yesterday forenoon at 9:30 for a trip to Ludington and back, the peculiar incentive to the trip being said to be a wager that one boat could beat the other, and in order to make the trip more binding a forfeit was said to have been up, to be lost by the boat that turned back. The GEM went to Ludington and came back safely, but the LAMONT not being seen or heard from the GEM and another boat went out to look for her, and patrols on foot and horseback scoured up and down the beach. At last she was found two miles north of this place.
      Bottom side up
in the lake, with no trace of her crew. It is conceded on all hands that those who were on board of her when the accident happened are surely lost. The missing persons are Charles Lamont, the Captain and owner of the boat, his son George Lamont, aged 13, and Palmar Hill. The latter leaves a wife, and Captain Lamont leaves a large family. The accident probably happened during a snow squall soon after the boats left this place.
      Later - Still no tidings.
Pentwater, Mich., March 15, 12:30 p. m. - Nothing has yet been heard from the lost crew of the capsized tug LAMONT. The trip and its resultant accident were brought about by a $25 bet between the captain and owner of the LAMONT and the fireman of the GEM. The blame seems to rest upon a portion of the community for spurring them on and upon the captains for allowing the race to be attempted.
      The J.W. Hall Great Lakes marine Scrapbook, March 1880.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: capsized
Lives: 3
Remarks: ?
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.78167 Longitude: -86.43314
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.

George L. Lamont (Tug), capsized, 15 Mar 1880