The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John Owens (Steam canal boat), U77186, sank, 14 Sep 1902

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      Steamer JOHN OWENS Came Near Taking Her Crew to the Bottom Along With Her Cargo. Tonawanda, Sept. 15. -- The steamer JOHN OWENS of the Buffalo, Rochester & Syracuse Transit Company, laden with a large and valuable cargo of merchandise loaded at Buffalo for eastern points, sank in the Erie Canal opposite its owners local dock between 3 and 4 o'clock yesterday morning, and the crew, whose names follow, had a narrow escape from being drowned; Capt. Harry Brush of Middleport, Phillip Herrin and R.W. Bushby of Port Byron, Lewis McBeth of Weedsport, Dudley Wilcox of Buffalo, Edward Phillips of Palmyra and Robert Roberts of Clyde.
      The OWENS arrived at the Tonawandas shortly after 2 o'clock yesterday morning and tied up at its local dock to await daylight to load some freight in waiting here. The entire crew turned in for the night and the first knowledge they had that the boat was in trouble was when they were awakened by the steamer lurching heavily to one side, and throwing the freight about. Every man made a rush for deck, and they did not reach it any too soon, for some of them were just climbing through holes leading to the upper part of the boat, when it went down.
      While Herrin was climbing up the ladder leading from the forecastle he was met with a large volume of water that poured through the hatch, and reached the deck only after a desperate effort. McBeth was knocked down by several bales falling against him. He succeeded in extricating himself from the heap just in time to leap from one of the doors in the right side of the boat, as it lurched back to the opposite side and sank. They were all in their night clothes.
      The boat is thought to have sprung a leak after arriving at the Tonawanda dock. It was the oldest one in the company's service and carried one of the largest cargoes of the season. The boat and cargo were insured.
      The deck load went overboard when the boat first lurched and floated down stream.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 15, 1902

The canal steamer JOHN OWENS, which sank at Tonawanda a few days ago, has been raised and will be dry-docked at Buffalo.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 20, 1902

Steam Canal Boat JOHN OWENS. U. S. No. 77186. Of 129 tons gross; 105 tons net. Built Canajoharie, N.Y., 1893.
      90.4 x 15.7 x 5.5 Crew of 6.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1902

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sank
Lives: nil
Freight: merchandise
Remarks: Recovered
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.02033 Longitude: -78.88032
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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John Owens (Steam canal boat), U77186, sank, 14 Sep 1902