The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
An Exciting time at Charlotte
Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), 18 Mar 1862

Full Text
An Exciting time at Charlotte
The steamer Maple Leaf and two Schooners Washed into the Open lake.

Yesterday a dispatch was received in this city , urging the immediate departure of some of our tug-boats for Charlotte as the steamer Maple Leaf, with Capt. Westcott on board, and the schooners Col. Cook and Minnesota had been washed from their moorings, and had drifted into the open lake at the mercy of the winds and waves. The steamers Cataract and Bay State were also in danger of being carried away, the latter parting two of her heaviest chains. A later dispatch however, brought the comforting assurance that the Maple Leaf had been brought back, and that the schooners were probably unharmed.

Since writing the above the Rochester Express, whose reporter witnessed the disaster, has come to hand, We copy the following from that paper;

Quite a crowd of persons were standing upon the wharf, when the M.L. parted both chains and swung out in the mass of ice in the river. Men who were employed on the boat jumped ashore, when Capt. Palmer Westcott , a veteran sailor, got aboard, against the remonstrances of his friends, and taking a chew of tobacco cooly said, "If she is going out, I am going with her."

That boat then floated down stream, colliding with the schooner :Col Cook," the bowsprit of which tore through the upper cabins of the steamer. The schooner then parted her cable, crowding against the Minnesota, another schooner just below. The three vessels then floated down the river past the piers and out into the lake.

One of the Government life-boats was manned immediately after, and put out to the rescue of the vessels. They reached the Maple Leaf about 10 o’clock, and lo! Capt. Westcott had let go her bow anchor, and was taking things as coolly as circumstances would allow. The vessel was floating at anchor about three miles out. The men in the life-boat then set at work, and under the direction of Messrs. Westcott and Hunt, both engineers, put the engines together, it having been taken apart for repair, working all night at this. They succeeded in getting steam by 6 o’clock this morning.

In the meantime another boat had been manned and the Col. Cook overtaken about two mile east of the piers. Her anchors were let loose and she now rides safely in that situation. The Minnesota, Capt. Blackburn, floated further down towards the bay and is now aground not far from the Sandbar. She has no anchors.

One boiler of the Maple Leaf was put in use and enough steam raised to allow of her heading back towards the piers, which she reached at 10 o’clock this morning. An hour after she reached the dock. Her crew were welcomed with loud cheers upon the wharf. Capt. Westcott was especially praised for his daring conduct, and he has the credit of saving the vessel from destruction.

The damage to the steamer, is thought will not exceed $1,000 , and as she was already in process of repairing, the delay will not be enough to prevent her taking her trip as early as usual this season.

The Col. Cook is the same vessel which collided with the Lady Elgin on Lake Michigan last season, upon which occasion over two hundred lives were lost.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
18 Mar 1862
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.2556887601617 Longitude: -77.6054563501384
Richard Palmer
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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An Exciting time at Charlotte