The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Crew and Steamer SInk As Ships Litter Shores
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), 11 Nov 1913, p. 1, 9

Full Text
Crew and Steamer SInk As Ships Litter Shores
Big Boats, Battered on Rocks and Shoals, are Beyond Reach in Hurricane-Lashed Lakes as Only One Fleet Has Wireless Equipment.
Three Barges at Cleveland, Torn From Moorings, Crash Over Bar While Passenger Vessel Here Shatters Motorcraft.

The entire crew, about thirty men, is believed to have been lost on the lower end of Lake Huron when a large steel ship turned turtle Sunday night or yesterday in a terrific gale that swept the lakes.

Only the forward end of the unidentified ship is above wter, and the visible portion is the bottom.

The steamer H.B. Hawgood was reported yesterday to be pounding herself to pieces on Corsica shoals, just north of Point Edward, at the lower end of Lake Huron.How serious the damage may be or whether any lives were lost could not be learned yesterday.

Wireless dispatches from ships of the Shenango fleet, the only bulk freighters on the lakes equipped with wireless, stated many ships were aground or ashore at various points along the Detroit and St. Clair rivers.

Other boats were reported in shelter and tremendously strong winds accompanied by snow were reported everywhere on the entire chain of lakes.

From Sault Ste. Marie relayed dispatches told of the suddenness of the rise of the northeast gale and snowstorm that swept Lake Superior Sunday. Never before had so many ships at anchor in the vicinity of Sault Ste. Marie lost anchors. Anchor chains were parted before they could be raised.

In Cleveland the storm reached its height early yesterday morning. Three barges broke from their moorings in the east breakwater and were driven ashore.

The steamer State of Ohio in winter quarters at the foot of E. 9th-St, broke her mooring cables and swung across the slip, destroying motorboats that were in her way.

Except such messages as came by wireless from Detroit, shore stations and the Shenango steamers Cleveland ship owners were unable to get in communication with any of their ships.

Scores of ships were either in the worst storm of recent years or in shelter. No ship was on time.

Big Freighter Drives on Rocks

One of the large freighters was driven on the rocks at Manitou Island this morning, Calumet reports. All day life savers tried to reach her but were unable to get near enough to read her name.

First intimation that there had been lives lost on the Great Lakes came yesterday when a wireless message from Capt. J. F. Jones of the steamer Shenango reached the offices of the Shenango Steamship Co. in the Rockefeller building.

"A wreck lies on the direct course of downbound ships eleven miles north by northeast of Fort Gratiot and seven miles from the west shore," the message read.

A few hours later William Livingstone of Detroit, president of the Lake Carriers' association , succeeded in getting a telegram to Cleveland in which he said that Capt. Reid of the Reid Wrecking Co. of Sarnia, Ont., had had the tug Sarnia City out on Lake Huron where an overturned black hulled steel ship was discovered.

No survivor was sighted. It is believed all were lost, as no lifeboat could weather the storm. The forward part of the ship's bottom is [p. 9] eighteen feet above water, and it is doubtful if any of the crew had even a chance to use a lifeboat.

Light Vessel Driven Ashore.

Light vessel No. 61, which marks the approach to the mouth of St. Clair river and which is stationed very near the spot where the lost ship lies, was blown ashore during the storm.

Although the storm was still raging last night, the Sarnia City was ordered to the scene of the wreck to warn approaching vessels.

President Livingstone also directed that every effort be made to get the name of the ship, but to stand by until relieved so no other ship might strike the steel hull.

President Livingston reported the H. B. Hawgood ashore, but the message was so mutilated in transmission that it could not accurately be made out.

It appeared to read as if the Hawgood was ashore four miles from the mouth of St. Clair river. No lives were lost according to the report. If the message had read four miles from the head of St. Clair river the location would have been the same as in other reports.

The other phrases in the message were practically the same as in the earlier unverified reports which said the ship was on the Canadian side and high and dry on the shore or shoal.

Ships Left on River Bottom.

The high winds, mostly northeast and accompanied by heavy snow, so lowered the water that ships were left on the bottom in Detroit river.

The steamer Victory is aground at the head of Livingston channel, the Fulton at Bar point, the Pollock at the St. Clair ship canal, Lake St. Clair.

The D. O. Mills is ashore at Harbor Beach, Mich., sixty miles north of Port Huron, Mich. This is a harbor of refuge and the ship probably went ashore trying to get into shelter.

The steamer Berry put back to Sault Ste. marie Sunday when the storm broke her anchor chains. The steamer Farrell also lost both anchors and five other ships lost one anchor each.

Capt. Neil Campbell of the steamer Sarnian, which arrived at Sault Ste. Marie Sunday, said:

"We left Port Arthur Tuesday midnight. My barometer was falling, but the wind had not yet sprung up. When I got around Thunder Bay cape it began to blow from the southwest.

Shelters Behind Cape.

"I saw my boat could not make it with wind from that direction, so I went back behind the cape. Five times I made the effort to get out. It was not until Wednesday night that I got started.

"Thursday brought me as far as Jackfish, and I laid under the bluffs there until Friday night. I saw the lights of Mission Point Saturday night. I was forced to find an anchorage behind Michipicoten island, which I left this morning.

"It was blowing hard with snow from the northeast. As I came down I could see two or three boats trying to make their way up, but I think they came back. A big fleet hugged the south shore of Whitefish bay as I came by."

Capt. C. C. Balfour, master of the steamer Berry, told at Sault Ste. Marie of the suddenness of the storm.

"This is the first time I ever lost an anchor by letting it go., he said. "The wind was something terrific. We were laying under Whitefish when the wind took a turn to northeast and north so quickly that before we could meet it our anchor chains snapped and we had to turn around."

Gale Blows All Day.

All day yesterday the wind blew a gale. Snow filled the air so that shipmasters could hardly see.

Two ships arrived here when the snow stopped falling for a few minutes. The steamer John P. Reiss, with a cargo of iron ore, arrived in the afternoon. She came to within a few miles of Cleveland Sunday afternoon, but the weather was so severe no attempt was made to enter.

She turned back and went to the Canadian shore, where she lay in the lee of the land until yesterday morning, when she returned to Cleveland.

The steamer City of Detroit II, in command of Capt. Fred Simpson, remained at Detroit until 3 o'clock yesterday morning when she left for Cleveland. She arrived here at 11:30 o'clock yesterday forenoon.

Although she encountered a strong wind and blinding snow at times, no ship was sighted. The run from Detroit to Cleveland was one of the hardest that Capt. Simpson ever made,he says,but it was made in the usual scheduled running period.

Ship Aground, Sends Wireless.

Late reports form Sault Ste. Marie, stated the steamer Huronic is aground off Shell Drake, Whitefish bay, Lake Superior. Capt. A. L. Campbell sent a wireless message saying the ship was behind the point for shelter and was blown ashore. He reports he is in no danger.

Owing to the lack of telegraph facilities and the limited wireless field it was impossible for shipowners to get wrecking expeditions started to all disabled ships.

The tug Michigan was ordered from Port Huron to the steamer Hawgood and strenuous efforts were made to communicate with the wireless station at St. Ignace in the Straits of Mackinaw where the powerful wrecking steamer Favorite is stationed.

Already enough vessels have been reported in need of aid to keep all wrecking equipment on the lakes busy for the next week.

Because of meager information and the many points on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and even on Lake Erie that have not been heard from, it is feared the storm, which began last Thursday, will prove to be as disastrous as the big storm on Nov. 82 [sic], 1905, when a large number of lives and a number of ships were either lost or almost destroyed by being driven ashore.

Seamen's Wives Worry

Word from ships was eagerly sought all last night by wives and other relatives of lake mariners. Each was anxious about some particular ship. The only reports were those sent by wireless by captains of the Shenango steamships.

The steamers Champlain, Schiller, McWilliams, King, Agnew, HOlden, England, Bradley, Superior City, Wolvin, Centurion, Aztec, Reed, Sheadle, Tionesta, Kirby, Maryland, Dustin and Pathfinder were reported safe in the rivers between Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

The little sand steamer, tug Osborne and barge Bourke were in shelter under Kelleys island. The steamer Castalia was reported to have arrived at Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, a day late.

This information was received either by letter or telegrams that were relayed and forwarded by mail from the last relay station.

During the height of the storm yesterday morning five of the barges owned by the Pittsburgh Steamship Co., that are moored for the winter under the east breakwater, broke loose.

Three of these, the Jenney, Holley and Thomas, were driven ashore near the foot of E. 40th-st. The tugs Frank W. Gilmore and Truby went out to E. 40th-st.

Sea is Too Rough for Aid.

The barges were on the beach, but the weather was such it was impossible for the tugs to get a line to them. The tugs will reutrn as soon as the storm dies down.

The barges are not in danger of being seriously damaged as the shore is mostly of cinders.

"The worst storm in my twenty-two years of experience on the lakes," Capt. Hans Hansen, of the lifesaving station, yesterday characterized teh present blizzard.

Hansen and four men kept constant watch at the station all Sunday night.

The wind and waves undermined a section of concrete work at the station and the storm signal tower was put out of service.

Lighthouse keepers, who had been working at the harbor stations without relief for twenty-four hours, were given aid by the lifesaving crew yesterday. Relief men were taken to the fog horn station and to the outer light.

Holes Broken in Breakwater

The pounding waves driven by Sunday's gale tore two great holes in the government breakwater in the harbor, it was discovered yesterday.

Visible at times through the mist and spray that yesterday was hanging over the narrow line of stonework, the two gaping holes could be seen where the big waves rushed unimpeded into the inner harbor.

Government harbor officials yesterday said the character of the damage cannot be estimated until the water becomes calmer.

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Date of Publication:
11 Nov 1913
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.4995 Longitude: -81.69541
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Crew and Steamer SInk As Ships Litter Shores