The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Weekly British Whig (Kingston, ON), 18 Sep 1856

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p.3 The Cataract and the Oxford - It will be recollected that on the morning of the 30th day of May last a collision took place between the propeller Cataract of Buffalo, and the brig Oxford, owned at Oswego and Toledo, which resulted in the total loss of the brig Oxford and the loss of 5 lives. An investigation has recently been had, as we learn from the Express, at Buffalo, by the Local Inspectors, Charles Brown and Thomas Truman. After a careful examination of the officers of the Cataract and the surviving seamen of the Oxford, the Inspectors have determined as follows:-

1st - That no blame can attach Capt. Hunt, or to the officers of the Cataract, as all the testimony goes to show that they were at their posts; that Capt. Hunt, especially, was on the forward upper deck, keeping a good look out; that when he saw the red light he gave the order to port the wheel, which was in accordance with the standing rule, as passed by the Board of Supervising Inspectors and the common practice on the lakes; that when he discovered that the vessel, instead of keeping away, the tendency of which course was to place the vessel in such a position as would inevitably bring about a collision, Captain Hunt promptly and at once rang his bells to stop and back, at the same time hailing the vessel to luff, and keep her course, to which no attention was paid by those having charge of the vessel, was promptly done by the officers of the propeller Cataract. (sic)

2nd - That the sole cause of the collision was the order given to the mate of the Oxford, to keep her away, and there is no doubt in our minds but that the order was given whilst the mate was confused, he having just come up from the forecastle, where he had been to light his pipe, and that had he remained on deck and kept watch of the light, no collision would have taken place.

It is proper for us to say, that many vessels are navigated on the lakes without showing any lights, and, in many vessels that have lights, no proper care is taken of them, and that towards morning the lights are burning dim and almost out, , as was the case in this instance. We cannot but condemn a practice so obviously tending to endanger the lives of all who are compelled to follow the lakes, either for profit, as passengers or otherwise, at the same time making the duties of the Licensed Pilots very arduous, frequently placing them in situations of peril, as well to life as reputation.

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18 Sep 1856
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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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Weekly British Whig (Kingston, ON), 18 Sep 1856