The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Centurion (Propeller), U126994, aground, 1895

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Capt. John Mitchell, who has had considerable to do with the management of the CENTURION, figures that the flour and copper thrown overboard when this big steel vessel was ashore at Isle Royale was worth about $155,000. This is figuring the copper, of which there was about 525 tons, at 11 ½ cents a pound, and the flour, of which there was about 1,000 barrels, at $3 a barrel. The CENTURION goes into dock at the American Steel Barge Co's. plant, West Superior, and although there are ample facilities at this yard for rushing work on her, it is not probable that she will handle much freight during the balance of the present season. Repairs to the vessel and wrecking claims will undoubtedly bring the loss to a figure that will make it the heaviest of the season, notwithstanding efforts that are being made to recover as much as possible of both the copper and the flour. Nearly all of the insurance companies doing business on the lakes will bear a portion of this loss, as most of them are involved in either hull or cargo, but companies represented by Smith, Davis & Co. of Buffalo are the heaviest losers, as that firm is said to have placed an even hundred thousand on the hull. Preparations are being made at West Superior to do considerable repair work on such of the whalebacks as will winter at the head of the lakes, so that the barge company's plant will be kept quite busy until spring.
      Marine Review
      November 7, 1895
Capt. Alex. McDougall says that had the bottom of the steel steamer CENTURION been constructed on any system other than the cellular system he feels quite certain that repairs necessitated by her stranding on the rocks at Isle Royale would have been far more costly than they were. It was at first thought that repairs would have cost full $35,000 but the expense was approximately $20,000. The work was undoubtedly done more rapidly than anything of its kind ever undertaken on the lakes. The West Superior yard is fast gaining a reputation in repair jobs. It is hoped to present in a future issue some illustrations that will admit of an intelligent discussion of repairs on the CENTURION.
      Marine Review
      December 5, 1895
      In a letter to the Review regarding repairs to the steamer CENTURION which was ashore on Isle Royale, Lake Superior, not long ago Capt. McDougall of the American Steel Barge Co. says: "I think the cellular bottom was the means, in this case, of saving the ship from much serious damage. As I understand it, the ship ran onto a reef of rocks at a rather good speed, and was in a badly exposed condition, and the fact that her inner bottom was not ruptured was partly due to the giving way of the cellular construction. When she was first docked only a few of her plates were found damaged on the outside, and everybody who saw her bottom was astonished. When the outer plates were removed, however, it was found that the sections which formed the cells had sheared the rivets, and one part passing the other bad collapsed in a gentle manner without breaking the outer shell, and the inner bottom was almost intact. The accident resulted in more damage to the inside construction than to the shell plating. We think the job on the CENTURION was the quickest job of repair work ever done in America, as she was in the dock but thirteen days. During that time some sixty plates were taken off, heated, rolled and replaced; ten new plates and 192 new frames put in; 33,000 shell rivets taken out and put back; much of the inner construction made new, and other parts heated and straightened. Weather was very favorable during the period of repairs and between two hundred and fifty and three hundred men were working on the job all the time."
The Union Dry Dock Co., Buffalo, has just completed a job on the fire boat of that city that will enable her to engage more extensively in ice breaking. Extra heavy frames were put into the boat and a belt of ¾-inch plate put on each side of the vessel at the water line for a distance of about 30 feet back from the stem. The steamer RUSSIA is now in the Buffalo dock. Her plates on both sides of the bow are dented for a distance of about 20 feet back from the bow and 10 feet up and down.
      Marine Review
      December 12, 1895
Port Arthur, May 25, -- The wrecking steaner BELLE P. CROSS arrived today from Isle Royale. Captain Tuttle, the wrecking master, reports that he has recovered every bar of copper that was thrown overboard from the CENTURION last fall. He brought back about 300 tons with him this time, which with that recovered last season, makes a total of 450 tons, worth $100,000. It will be shipped to Buffalo, and is now lying in bond.
      Toronto Mail & Empire
      May 26, 1896
Steam screw CENTURION. U. S. No. 126994. Of 3,401 gross tons; 2,718 tons net. Built West Bay City, Mich., 1893. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 360.0 x 45.2 x 21.9
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1899


Media Type:
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Reason: aground
Freight: copper &c.
Remarks: Got off
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 48.00044 Longitude: -88.83341
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Centurion (Propeller), U126994, aground, 1895