The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Wave (Steamboat), U26645, boiler explosion, 28 Aug 1876

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      Additional Particulars of the Loss of the Steamer WAVE.
A brief statement of the loss of the steamer Wave on Saginaw Bay, on Friday, was given in our issue of yesterday. In the Bay City Chronicle on yesterday we learn the following additional particulars: "The Wave was chartered by Locem Brothers to go to the Charities after timber. At a point about half a mile to the westward of the Charity light she anchored in about eleven feet of water. The crew, all but the engineer and cook, went ashore to raft the timber. They were all busily engaged in their work when, at about 8 o'clock, the blowing of the Wave's whistle attracted their attention to her. They readily perceived that she was on fire, and without a moment's loss of time got into their yawl and started for her. The fire was spreading rapidly and they made almost superhuman efforts to reach her in time to save the two of their comrades who were aboard. Their anxiety on this score was shortly diminished with regard to the safety of the two. They saw them throw a plank overboard (the only available thing the fire had left them) and jump for it. Resting on the plank they swam to the anchor chain and made fast to it, thinking they could protect themselves from the heat until the yawl came to their relief. The men in the yawl were pulling bravely, doing their best, but were not soon enough. When they had reached a point about 40 rods from the steamer the boiler blew up with a terrible explosion and scattering of water. Horror stricken at the supposed fate of their mates, the boat crew labored on with even greater efforts than before. The steamer sunk immediately after the explosion. The water, as we have stated, was only about eleven feet deep. Her stern sunk out of sight, and only a portion of her paddle boxes was visible. The fire was immediately extinguished. As the crew of the yawl grew nearer they discovered that the engineer and cook were adrift from their hold on the anchor chain, but still retained their plank, were safe, and what is more wonderful, were entirely unhurt, notwithstanding their unpleasant proximity to the explosion.
They then boarded the wreck and discovered that she was indeed a wreck. The boiler was laid wide open and great seams were discovered in her frame. The pilot house was thrown by the explosion to her very stem. The compass-box was partially burned, but the compass itself was unhurt.
Capt. Donahue was around a point of the island, but the report of the explosion brought him around. He took the crew aboard and brought them to Bay City in the short space of five hours.
She was probably worth about $10,000, and was insured for $6,000.
The fire originated in the fire hole and spread with amazing rapidity.
      Saginaw Courier
      Sun., Aug. 30, 1874

The small sidewheeler WAVE (US#26645) out of Bay City was a river steamer of 122 tons, and was probably normally used as a boom tug. This was the end of her. The Charity Islands are in the mouth of Saginaw Bay, centered between Pt. Lookout and Caseville. I used to go out there as a boy, and it was the only place that I have ever seen a live rattlesnake (Massasauga) in the wild in Michigan - there were a LOT of them. [D. Swayze]

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Reason: boiler explosion
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.75002 Longitude: -83.66664
William R. McNeil
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Wave (Steamboat), U26645, boiler explosion, 28 Aug 1876