The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
The Tug Cummings Sunk
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), 13 Apr 1883

Full Text
The Tug Cummings Sunk
Caught by the current and wedged above the Bridge– An attempt to Free Her results Disastrously– How it Occurred.

About 3:30 yesterday afternoon the tug M. J. Cummings , Capt. Donovan, started to drop the schooner Mulvey, which had been loading coal at the D.L. & W. Trestles, down through the draw. The current in the river just above the bridge was running at the rate of six or seven miles an hour and it required the most skillful handling to avoid accident. Everything went right till the vessel had been dropped almost through the draw, when the tug which was a few feet above the bridge took a sudden sheer for the west wall. Capt. Donovan signalled the engineer to go ahead and pulled the wheel over rapidly hoping to bring her head to the stream again. The tug however swung around almost east and west and the efforts made proved unavailing. The heavy current carried her down stream rapidly her bow striking the west wall and her quarter colliding with the middle abutment. The stern of the tug was lifted partly out of water and the wale running around the tug caught on the projecting portion of the abutment holding the stern well out of water and lifting her so that the side exposed to the current, was almost submerged. The precarious condition of the tug at once became evident, and means for releasing her, were devised. No other tug was in commission and it was not thought advisable to wait for the Morey to get up steam. A tackle was secured and a great crowd of men and boys who had collected, attempted to release the tug by pulling her up the stream against the current, but so tightly was she wedged in and so great was the pressure of the water against her that it was found impossible to do much more than stir her, and another method was adopted. A line was then run from the tug’s stern to the island dock, around a spile and then to the capstan of the schooner Mulvey which had been dropped a short distance below the bridge.

The engines of the tug were backed, and the capstan worked and she slid back for a few feet, but the gunwale on the tug’s side remained on the projecting abutment and the more the tug moved back ward the more she careened. When the rail of the tug touched the water, Capt. Donovan ordered the work stopped fearing that the Cummings would roll over. He was persuaded however to permit one more trial. This time she slid back a few feet but commenced to roll over so rapidly that the crew, with the exception of the Captain bolted her. The engines were still working and as the tug commented to sink and the water poured in on the boiler, the crowd which numbered probably two thousand scattered in all directions, evidently fearing that the boiler would explode. The tug settled quietly down on her side, Capt. Donovan remained the rested on her port side on board till the last moment when he sprang on the middle abutment. The Cummings with her bow close to the stone pier and her stern across the middle of the draw. About two feet of her side is out of water. As the tug sank, obstructing almost the whole channel, the water rushed down between the boat’s stem and the east wall at a terrific rate. The schooner Mulvey , laying as short distance below the bridge, began to surge and it was with much difficulty that she could be held at the dock.

The Cummings ws built in this city during the winter of 81–82 and was owned by the Donovan brothers. Nothing was spared to make her a good boat, and she was generally conceded to be as strong a tug as could be built with wood and iron. She was valued at $9,000 and insured for $6,000 of which $3000 was in the Greenwich and $3,000 in the Western Travellers. Capt. Donovan abandoned her to the underwriters last evening.

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Date of Publication:
13 Apr 1883
Richard Palmer
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.45535 Longitude: -76.5105
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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The Tug Cummings Sunk