The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post (Detroit, MI), April 2, 1885

Full Text
Capt. Gillman of the Ludington Relates his Experience
The Master of the Ludington Details His Experience With the Ice

The following letter was received in the city yesterday from Capt. John Gillman, master of the steamer Ludington, which has reached harbor at the city of Ludington after a long seige in the ice. The letter is dated at Ludington, March 31, and reads "Arrived here last night after being out from Milwaukee fourteen days. I never saw such ice in all my sailing and I never got such squeezing; but with the exception of loosing some of our iron, we are all right. I am sorry to say that others did not fare so well - the Michigan and Wisconsin. The Wisconsin came near to going down as well as the Michigan. Her sides were crushed in, frames cracked, plates bent, and much of the freight was thrown overboard to keep her afloat. We were within eight or ten miles of the Wisconsin on the 20th, and got the squeeze at the same time. She showed a signal of distress which I thought came from the Michigan, which, by that time, was in want of provisions. I sent a party in a boat on runners with supplies. It took the men several hours to accomplish the trip, and when they reached the place were surprised that it was the Wisconsin, which has the same lines."


" A day or two after her steward and another man came over to us with a letter from the captain, stating his condition and asking me to stay by him. I wrote that we would do the best we could, but we had quite a number of people on board, and fuel was growing scarce."

"On the 26th the ice opened and got quite soft. We worked towards him, but could not sight the boat and supposed he had gone eastward toward Grand Haven. Next day he was a long way from us, and we could see him from our cross-trees with a glass, and he seemed to be working east. Thinking the Wisconsin was now able to take care of herself, we made to the south, but did not accomplish much as the next day we could still see the Wisconsin. Sunday the 29th the ice opened a little north and south. Feeling a little nervous about him I went in the direction the boat was last seen as son as I could get clear of and "ice jam." After running about ten miles the ice stopped us and we could then see the Wisconsin quite plainly about eight miles from us. We concluded to try and signal her and find if she needed us. In the absense of any regular code of signals on the lakes, I did the best I could. We ran up our flag to the masthead; after a while he ran his up also. I then had ours lowered to half-mast, and if he would do the same I would then stay with him; but he lowered his altogether, so we came away and tried to get to Ludington. This was off Grand Haven, about twenty-five miles west of there. I kept the mate in the cross-trees to watch if he would signal us again, but he did not, and so we went on and got to Ludington on the forenoon of the 30th.

The ice has got quite safe, and I do not think the Wisconsin will receive any further damage, but I wish she was in. My fuel was getting quite low or I shpild have taken greater chances."

Media Type:
Item Type:
Captain Gillman lost track of the iron steamer MICHIGAN, sister of the WISCONSIN, because that vessel had sunk on the 20th - finally crushed after having been trapped in the ice since February 9.
Capt. Gillman's boat was the 842gt wooden propeller CITY OF LUDINGTON (US#125873), built at Manitowoc in 1880 and lasted until 1933. She was later named GEORGIA.
MICHIGAN (US#91382) and WISCONSIN (US#80861) were both iron-hulled propellers of about 1200 gt., built at Detroit Dry Dock in 1881. WISCONSIN was lost in Lake Michigan in 1929.
Date of Original:
April 2, 1885
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
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 (Detroit, MI), April 2, 1885