The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Grace Dormer (Propeller), U10997, sunk by collision, 1 Jul 1883

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Captain Thomas, of the steamer GRACE DORMER, made the following statement to a reporter of the Port Huron Telegraph regarding the sinking of his boat: " We were leaving the mouth of Black River on the first trip after dinner, a few minutes after 11 o'clock. My boat, the GRACE DORMER, was running at the rate of about eight miles an hour. As soon as the boat got past the corner of Howard's dock, where the lumber is piled high, I first saw the tug FRANK MOFFAT, not 100 yards away, bearing down on us at the rate of 15 miles an hour. I put the wheel hard a-starboard to head the DORMER down stream, blew the whistle once to signal the tug, and seeing that the tug did not respond, blew the whistle of the DORMER three times. The tug came right on, not altering its course a hair, and the collision followed in half a minute, but it wouldn't have occurred, in my opinion, had they put their wheel to port a little. I had about thirty passengers aboard, some of them ladies. When we were struck the passengers rushed toward the tug; some scrambled aboard her. As soon as the boats separated, I found that my engineer was aboard the tug. I then rushed to the engine, gave her a full head of steam, then ran back to the wheel and headed for Black River. The water was coming in at the stern, through which the bow of the MOFFAT had crushed, with a rush, and the DORMER was fast settling. The passengers still on were grabbing life preservers and getting ready to swim when I swung her up alongside McMorran's dock.
      It wasn't necessary to throw out a gang plank or offer assistance to help anybody off. They were on the dock as soon as I was, and in about two minutes the DORMER touched bottom in thirteen feet of water. Every passenger was landed safely, that's one good thing."
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, July, 1883.

Steam screw GRACE DORMER. U. S. No. 10997. Of 65.99 tons gross; 48.60 tons net. Built 1868 at Buffalo, N.Y. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 70.9 x 17.5 x 5.7 and of 75 nominal horse power.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.97197 Longitude: -82.41825
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Grace Dormer (Propeller), U10997, sunk by collision, 1 Jul 1883