The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Comet (Owen Sound, ON), August 20, 1863

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The Clifton and Ploughboy

Last week was one of disaster and of great excitement. The Ploughboy which had gone up to the Sault Ste Marie on her regular trip, having on board a party of excursionists from Toronto, Barrie, Collingwood and Owen Sound to the number of about sixty, also officers to bring down the Catholic Priest Father Kobler and the Indian suspected of being implicated in the death of Mr. Gibbard, had not returned in due time, nor had any tidings been received of her till Friday afternoon, when we received the intelligence that on her return, near Little Current, she became disabled by the breaking of her shaft. A small boat with five of her crew started off for the assistance of the Clifton but in the storm that set in at the time upset when unfortunately only one of the five survived. In an exhausted state the survivor Donald McLean was carried by the Indians back to the Ploughboy and another messenger was dispatched for aid who arrived here only to be disappointed in meeting with the Clifton. On Wednesday night the Clifton had left here for Penetanguishene to bring to Owen Sound a party of Excursionists on the following day, but unfortunately had got stranded just opposite the Reformatory Prison during a slight-fog. After noon on Thursday we began to be a little anxious about the Clifton, but on Friday the excitement in town was very great, as at the time of getting the painful news of the loss of four lives in connection with the disabling of the Ploughboy, we had not any tidings from the Clifton. About six o'clock that evening intelligence of her position reached us but in an exaggerated form, and then the excitement in town knew no bounds. We could scarcely ever again expect to see the favorite Clifton or hear her welcome whistle. On Saturday morning about breakfast time when everybody was talking of and regretting the disasters of the last few days the joyful sound of the steamer's whistle was heard in the distance; again and it was recognized as the Clifton's and soon after as she came up the river was welcomed almost as one risen from the dead. By the fortunate rising of the water and great exertions she had been got off without any damage more than leakage, which was met temporarily by constant pumping. Saturday afternoon the Clifton was ready to start to Detroit for dry dock for repairs; but the Insurance Inspector not arriving in time, she was delayed till Sunday morning. Then she made an effort, but bad weather and serious illness of Capt. Smith caused her return in the evening. On Monday morning she again started, and we hope to see her back all safe and sound to make her regular trips next week.

News From the Steamers

We are pleased that the Clifton arrived safely at Detroit on Tuesday. A small boat with a large one in tow no doubt the Nicolet with the Ploughboy was seen in the distance making for the same place. If all goes well both boats may be expected on their regular routes next week.

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August 20, 1863
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Bill Hester
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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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Comet (Owen Sound, ON), August 20, 1863