The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 23 Oct 1874

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p.2 The Brooklyn - The ill-fated propeller was commanded by Capt. Howard, of Cape Vincent, who is saved.


Prop. City of Brooklyn Blown Up

Many Lives Lost

Windsor, Oct. 22nd - The steamer City of Brooklyn, the property of the Northern Transportation Company, exploded her boiler when opposite Ecourse, 8 miles below Windsor, this afternoon, killing fifteen persons, and seriously wounding several others. The Brooklyn was shattered to pieces.

Detroit, Oct. 22nd - The Northern Transportation Company's steamer City of Brooklyn, bound from Ogdensburg to Chicago, exploded her boiler while coming up the river about 2 p.m. The effects of the explosion were fearful, instantly sinking the boat and killing a large number of persons. The steamer Cuba was a short distance ahead of the Brooklyn, and picked up nearly all of the survivors, who were landed here, the injured being sent to hospital. As yet no complete list of the lost or saved can be obtained. The agents here say there were only seven passengers on board, while others say at least ten. The crew numbered twenty. It is thought half of those on board were killed.

St. Catharines, Oct. 22nd - A dispatch received here this evening says the prop. Brooklyn was blown up today off Wyandotte. She sank immediately in 20 feet of water. The captain and ten of the crew were saved. Engineers, firemen and sixteen passengers lost.

Detroit, Oct. 23rd - The passengers killed are Mrs. Baffin and child, of Oswego, and a lady from Cleveland and two Frenchmen from Ogdensburg. Their names are unknown. The crew killed are John Morley, first cook, Ogdensburg; second cook, name unknown, of Oswego; Wm. Hilliard, second engineer, of Ogdensburg; James Romaine, wheelsman, Cape Vincent; Michael Huckes, fireman, do.; James Phillips, fireman, do.; Mike Hawley, deckman, Rensaler Falls; Sam'l Anderson, porter, do. The passenges saved are Captain Boardman, of Chicago, head injured and arm broken; James Mullin, Green Bay, seriously injured; F.W. Stevens, New Haven, leg broken and head cut; Riley Franklin, Lodi, Ohio, shoulder sprained and head cut; Captain Harvey Brown was saved uninjured; also the first mate; Sam'l Rider, arm broken; second mate, Abner Melfen, injured in the leg; first engineer, William Stoddard, fatally hurt. Nine other were rescued, though nearly all slightly hurt. The City of Brooklyn had a miscellaneous cargo, and was herself valued at $25,000. Some of the injured passengers say that the boat was racing with the propellor Cuba, which had passed her a short time before, and that she was carrying a tremendous head of steam when the catastrophe occurred. Captain Brown attributes the explosion to low water in the boiler. The explosion tore her apart, sinking her almost instantly.

Port Colborne, Oct. 22nd - Down - tug Kitty Haight, Pt. Colborne, St. Catharines; steambarge Swallow, Cassville, Ogdensburg, lumber.

Up - scow Enterprise, Dunnville, Pt. Colborne, wood; U.S. steamer Ada, Pt. Dalhousie, Detroit; schr. W.B. Phelps, Oswego, do., coal; Hungerford, do., do., do.; scow Maria Alcott, do., do., do.; steambarge Wm. Cowie, Ogdensburg, Detroit, coal; schr. Samana, Oswego, Detroit, coal; Sea Gull, Charlotte, Toledo, do.; Wawanosh, Kingston, Cleveland, iron ore.


The looked-for accident has come at last, if not as soon as we predicted, with more fatal violence than we apprehended. Our telegraphic despatches detail a shocking steamboat disaster, by which a dozen of lives were sacrificed in order that two American captains might indulge in a trial of speed of their crafts. We are glad to observe that the captain's life was not lost, as to be blown up in the air was altogether too heroic and easy a death, for such a reckless rascal, who deserves, and we hope will receive, the sternest punishment with which the law can visit such offenders, if there be such a thing as law among our neighbours. The time has come to put down this infernal racing spirit among steamboat men, by which hundreds of lives are daily put in extreme danger; and the sharper and swifter the punishment the more deeply will the lesson be engraven into this captain's similarly reckless, but so more fortunate, fellows. We are wont to affect a patronizing pity for that state of civilization which countenanced the throwing of a poor devil of a barbarian to the lions in the Amphitheatre, and have all read stirring verses about the poor fellow "butchered to make a Roman holiday;" but there are not a few moderns inclined to wink at this horrid butchery of thirteen souls that two reckless steamboat masters might enjoy the royal sport of racing. Let us trust that an example will be made in this sad case as a measure of simple justice and a deterrent of others, and that the sailors in these northern waters may be learned that life is here held more sacred than on the Mississippi, where races used to be run with the firebox stuffed with resinous pine-knots and poor Cuffee on the safety valve.


The blowing up of the propeller City of Brooklyn created a sensation among the mariners today. Some of the victims of the racing slaughter were residents of Cape Vincent and naturally well known here. The disaster therefore comes home with peculiar force to the boatmen generally. The accident is not a startling one; it has been long expected in some quarters, the racing of the N.T. Co. boats and other passenger steamers on this lake and the river particularly having been notoriously common this year. Several times throughout this season have warnings of its dangers been given in these columns.

Mr. Ellis, collector of tolls on the Beauharnois Canal, has been superannuated.

A despatch from Port Rowan says the schooner American, with 23,000 bushels of wheat from Chicago to Buffalo, ran ashore on the south side of Long Point, and is probably a total loss.

The Kingston forwarders will have all their barges and elevators laid up this month and their businesses closed for the season. They do not generally shut down till the first of December. It is a farce, however, to keep open for business in such a dull Fall as this is.

No steamers passed up or down last night.

At Holcomb & Stewart's - schr. Samuel Amsden, from Port Rowan, 5,000 bushels wheat; tug Wren, from Montreal, with barges Lark, Star No. 1, Swan and Jet.

At Jones & Millar's - prop. Asia, from Chicago, with 5,900 bushels wheat; barge Mona, with 17,821 bushels wheat; barge Virginia, with 14,000 bushels wheat left for Montreal.

p.3 Customs Imports - Oct. 22nd - Str. Corsican, Pt. Hope, 4 cases, 5 baskets fruit, Rees Bros.

Str. Kincardine, Oswego, (mixed cargo)

Str. Asia, Chicago, 5,913 bush. wheat, Jones & Millar; 20 bags timothy seed, 10 bags clover seed, 20 bbls pork, A. Gunn & Co.

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23 Oct 1874
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 23 Oct 1874