The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
The Real Facts of the Sharples' Wreck
Jefferson County Journal (Adams, NY), 3 May 1911

Full Text

The John Sharples is a large iron freighter, owned by a Duluth company. In the early part of December she left Chicago for Ogdensburg, loaded with 78,000 bushels of corn. She was seen to pass Olcott light, and Capt. Garant, who is light-keeper there, remarked, "If she gets into the river ahead of this storm which is coming, she will have to make good time." R.C. Graves, who is keeper of the Galloo Island light, was ashore at this time, and Milford Tryon, the assistant, was in charge.

The storm broke on Dec. 7, and was one of the most severe blizzards of the season. Mr. Tryon had blown the whistle for several hours and between 2 and 3 on the morning of Dec. 8, he thought he heard a distress signal. He at once blew he distress whistle on the fog whistle. At daylight the boat was seen on the shoal which lies one and three-fourths mile from the head of Galloo Island. Tryon continued to blow his distress signal and about 9 o'clock the Islanders noticed the change in the whistle and Clifford Bowman and Howard Baker went to investigate.

Seas at least 30 feet in height were washing over the boat and part of the time she was not visible for the sheets of foam which covered her.

On the morning of Dec. 9, the mate, his wife, and a number of the crew, came to shore in the yawl. They were cold, hungry and frightened. After being warmed and fed the mate and two of the crew, together with W.J. Baker, Tryon, Bowman and Phillips of the Island, returned to the Sharples and rescued the remaining men. All on board were saved. The story of her disaster was told as follows:

In the blinding storm they were unable to see the Galloo light and at last feared that they were in the vicinity of Charity Shoal. They decided to turn around and retrace their way. In turning, of course, the boat lost a certain amount of way. The turn having ben made toward the south, she was in a direct range with the Galloo shoal.

Had they run the length of the boat either north or south, the disaster would have been averted.

As it was the boat went hard upon the shoal which is of flat rock. The wind blew from the northwest, driving her further on every minute. The bulkhead door was smashed in by the seas and her boilers were flooded, putting out the fire, so that only one distress signal was blown. The crew passed forward by means of a life line, often the seas washing over them in their passage. But at last all reached the bow and remained there through the terrific storm.

Shortly after the last boatload landed the ban, which followed the storm, lifted and the Hinckley came in sight. She was signaled and came to the pier, taking the crew of the Sharples on board for Oswego.

So many false reports have reached the papers concerning the wreck and the rescue of the crew, that this may be of interest to many people.

The Sharples was floated off the rocks at the Galloup Islands April 27 and taken in tow of one of the Reed & Baker Wrecking Co.'s. tugs to Cape Vincent. When she arrived thee she was not leaking badly and only one steam pump was necessary to keep her afloat. Before being floated it was necessary to throw from 5,000 to 16,000 bushels of corn overboard, which goes to feed the fishes. She is now in Kingston being repaired.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
3 May 1911
Richard Palmer Collection
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.8967791242813 Longitude: -76.4638996124268
Creative Commons licence:
pd [more details]
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
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

The Real Facts of the Sharples' Wreck