The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Thur., May 18, 1905

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When the steamer Thomas W. Palmer pitched forward and sank beneath the waters of Lake Superior Tuesday morning, she went down with every whistle blowing a parting salute.

On the deck of the Harvard, which had nearly cut the Palmer in two in the dense fog, stood the Palmer's captain, George V. Stilthen. His eyes were filled with tears, for the Palmer had been his home for upwards of fifteen seasons, and his hand had pulled the first and last signal cord of the vessel.

Capt. Stilthen reached Detroit late last night, from the Soo.

"The Harvard crashed into us on the port side between the second and third hatches, a little forward of amidships," he said. "The blow nearly cut us in two, and I called to the captain of the Harvard to keep her bow in the Palmer's side until my crew could board his boat. This he did. We sprang aboard without stopping to get our effects.

All Over in Five Minutes

"When the Harvard pulled away, with a rush the water poured into the great hole in the Palmer's side, and she began to settle at the bow. She went down quickly. First the spars went by the board, then her smokestack, and then the cabins and the texas.

"As she settled lower the tremendous rush of water set her whistle going, and as she pitched forward and disappeared she was blowing a final farewell. It was all over in five minutes."

The captain stopped a moment.

Harvard Badly Damaged

"The Harvard's bow was badly smashed, and she was otherwise injured forward," he continued, "and then the captain signaled the G. Watson French, which had passed a short time before. Thinking that in the condition of the Harvard it would be safer to transfer to the French, we did so. We were not on the Harvard more than an hour. "

Capt. Stilthen speaks in the highest terms of the courtesy and assistance of the captains of the Harvard and the French, and says that every aid was extended the crew of the unfortunate vessel.

The collision occurred a few miles from Stannard Rock, and about forty miles from Copper Harbor. The crew of the Palmer is now coming down on the French.

Underwriter's Heavy Loss

The Harvard reached the Soo early Wednesday morning, with her forward water compartments full. She was drawing 23 feet, but lightered 300 tons of ore and reduced her draft to 19 feet. At 9 o'clock last night she was locked down at the Soo.

The steamer Palmer, which was owned by William Livingstone, of Detroit, was insured for $100,000. The loss is the first large one for the underwriters in two years. The Palmer was loaded with coal from the Pittsburg Steamship Co., out of Cleveland.

Media Type:
Item Type:
The THOMAS W. PALMER (US#145513) was of composite hull construction, was 281 feet and 2134gt. She was built at Detroit Dry Dock in 1889. The steel-hulled Pittsburger HARVARD (US#96507) was built at Detroit Shipbuilding in 1900 and lasted until scrapped in 1960. She was 416 ft. and 5054gt.
Date of Original:
Thur., May 18, 1905
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Dave Swayze
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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 Free Press (Detroit, MI), Thur., May 18, 1905