The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 31 Aug 1893

Full Text

p.1 The Schooner Is Safe - The barge Alta, which broke away from the str. Alcona, is safely anchored at Thirty Mile Point, forty-two miles from Port Dalhousie. The Alta's steering gear was carried away. She is from Duluth and has 60,000 bushels of wheat on board.


The Cable Snapped And The Vessels Parted Company.

The schr. Zopatec which broke away from the str. Atzec (sic - Aztec ?) off Long Point, Lake Ontario, on Tuesday morning last is now in Portsmouth. The steamer and consorts left Chicago, Monday week, with corn for the Kingston & Montreal forwarding company. Monday last at noon with the wind blowing fresh they left Port Dalhousie. Monday night the wind increased in violence and in the early morning hours howled with all the vengeance of a cyclone. The steamer's officers fearing disaster and knowing they were near Long Point, essayed to get under cover of the land. The morning broke thick and foggy. The waves were bursting over the vessel from all sides and the veering, howling wind was making the tempest one of the most vicious ever experienced. The strain of holding the Zopatec in tow became intense. The cable cracked and sprung with the rolling of the crafts now almost on beam ends and again almost swamped by the volume of water that poured over the decks. Then came a mighty plunge, a snap and the vessels had parted.

The Zopatec drifted before the cyclone, and amidst the haze it seemed as if the crew of the schooners were setting sails. Along about ten o'clock the storm abated, the atmosphere brightened, and Capt. Howe, of the str. Atzec, from his lookout, descried his consort, but only for a time. Then she disappeared. Had she foundered? Up to nine o'clock last night this was the question of questions.

The wind then began changing from northeast to north and then westward. The steamer Atzec hovered about the point in hope of seeing the schooner again, but failing to get any view started out about one o'clock to search for her. The course that the drifting craft would have taken was covered. A run of some seventy miles up the lake was made, then the steamer coursed across to the American shore and down it and again over to the Ducks, following closely all the variations of the wind, but no sight of the consort was secured. Then the craft steered for Portsmouth and reported. The Atzec's cargo of 36,000 bushels of corn had shifted in the mighty conflict with wind and wave, and fearing damage to the grain Capt. Howe entered the customary protest with J.P. Gildersleeve.

Mate Edward Ryan, of Cape Vincent, on the steamer, said the storm was the roughest in his experience, and he had sailed many years. The Atzec had had a very warm time, and as for the wind, for three hours it took the form of a perfect hurricane, nay, cyclone. The sea was rolling in from all sides and dashed on the decks in such quantities that moving about was impossible. The spray was blinding. The crew of the Atzec number fifteen.

The Zopatec Safe.

Late last evening the manager of the Kingston & Montreal transportation company received a telegram which made him feel happy. The news was to the effect that the schooner barge Zopatec, supposed to have foundered, had arrived safely at Charlotte, and had sailed for Portsmouth. About ten o'clock this morning the barge was sighted, and when she sailed in a reporter ran the gauntlet of vessels and elevators and jumped on board before she got moored. Capt. Peter Thompson looked bright in a dark suit not very long made. He smiled when the reporter plied him with questions respecting his adventure on the "stormy sea." He is a very genial man, and a Canadian by birth. He lives now in West Bay City, Michigan. The captain's story was:

About a week ago last Monday the Zopatec, with 57,000 bushels corn, left Chicago in tow of the steamer Atzec. The trip was very pleasant until Monday night, when they got off Long Point. Heavy, dark clouds gathered and rain began to fall at midnight. A fresh breeze sprung up from the north-west quarter, and between two and three o'clock the wind shifted into the north-east. Its velocity increased and the rain was driven down in sheets. The steamer rolled greatly and it was momentarily expected the line holding the Zopatec would part. About daylight the storm was in all its fury, and the wind seemed to be increasing in force. The captain of the steamer saw the situation was a bad one and the water was rolling over both boats in a very wild manner. One would think the body of water that fell on them at times would swamp them. Capt. Howe turned the steamer's head to the south in an effort to turn the Zopatec about. While this movement was being made the Zopatec's line snapped and she rolled off into the breakers on her own account. Then came a trying time. The boat was in danger of foundering every minute, rolling in the trough of the sea without canvas on. The captain knew he had a good boat, and if he could get canvas on her he would be all right. By this time the decks were full of water and it was very difficult for the sailors to get around. They worked in the words of the captain like "British bull dogs," and sail was made after a trying time. They then headed south west by west and arrived at Charlotte about sundown. The captain said he was safer in the storm when his canvas was up, sailing on his own account, than towed by the steamer. The men had nothingn to eat from Monday until Tuesday evening, and did not get any sleep during that time. Not much of the Zopatec's cargo was damaged. She is owned by the Marine Transit Co., of Bay City, Mich., is four years old and cost in the neighborhood of $60,000. She was insured for $45,000.

The crew of the Zopatec consists of N. McPhee, W. Millard, West Bay City, Mich.;Cyrus Millard, Jackson, Mich.; R. Piersoll, Barrie; J. Minnie, Marvin City.

Jessie Thompson, daughter of the captain, is cook, and she was as brave during the storm as any of the sailors. She was not a bit sick.

Capt. Thompson is an able navigator, well versed in the courses of Lake Ontario and a Canadian, formerly of Port Stanley, Ont. He handled numerous Canadian boats, including the schr. Craftsman, the last one he had sailed before going west. Those who know him could not believe the Zopatec had foundered when the Atzec first reported. This was the vessel's first season for carrying grain to Kingston. Previously she was in trade from Duluth to Buffalo.

Another Consort Missing.

"Where is the Alta?" was a question heard in several quarters along the docks this morning. The schooner is certainly not in this port, and in order to gain information concerning her Capt. Mawdsley of the str. Glengarry was hunted up. About nine o'clock yesterday morning the Alcona ran alongside the Glengarry off Presque Isle, the other side of Brighton. Capt. Anderson was then in search of his barge, but could gain no information about her from the Glengarry. The Alcona was caught above Thirty Mile Point by the storm at four o'clock Tuesday morning. Everything would have been all right had not the wind changed. The Alta gave a shear and that settled it. The tow line parted and the Alcona could do nothing but head for the north to save herself. Capt. Mawdsley advised the Alcona to proceed at once to Charlotte. In all probability his boat had been driven ashore in the gale. Capt. Anderson did not think that the Alta had met with any dangerous mishap, and was confident she could brave the sea. Upon reaching Kingston the Alcona was wired that her consort was not here. No word has yet been received. Both boats had cargoes of corn from Chicago for the M.T. company.

The Alcona was at Charlotte last night and reported that the Alta had not been reported.


Clearances: str. Hurlburt, Chicago; schr. Folger, Sodus Point.

The steamer Corsican lying here since yesterday morning will go to Toronto this afternoon.

The schooner (sic) Hurlburt had 64 bushels of damaged grain on board which she carried back to Chicago.

The Escanaba, May Richards, Queen of the West and John Duncan will all bring corn from Chicago to Kingston.

The schr. Jennie Mathews, supposed to be lost, passed down in tow of the tug Proctor today. The other vessel has not yet been found, and has probably foundered.

Arrivals: str. Spartan, Toronto; str. Ocean, Montreal; str. Rideau Belle, Smith's Falls; prop. Aztec, Chicago, 36,000 bushels corn; str. Hurlburt, Toledo, 36,000 bush. wheat.

The schr. Singapore, ashore at Forest Lawn, is in two feet of water resting on a sandy bottom. The members of the crew are all right. Two tugs cleared last night to pull the schooner into deep water.

The S.S. Bannockburn, being united in the government dry-dock will be ready for service next week. Isaac Oliver is superintending the work and deserves credit for the way the workmanship is being pushed forward.

When the str. Owen Sound got into Port Dalhousie after roughing the storm on the southern shore, she had few whole dishes on board. On account of being light the vessel rolled about in the sea like a cork. No other damage was done, however.

The str. Glengarry was in Port Dalhousie when the storm broke. Capt. Maudsley was waiting for the barge Minnedosa when the wind raised. The Minnedosa was canalling through, and finally the horses could do nothing more and she was tied up, wind-bound. She did not get to the end of the canal till Tuesday night.

The new steam launch for the revenue cutter Constance, constructed by the Gillies Bros., Carleton Place, has been completed and will be inspected in a few days. She is expected to develop a speed of twelve knots and will be useful in preventive work in the shoal water whither the Constance could not be taken with safety owing to her deep draught.


The Iona's Close Call.

The steam barge Iona, J.D. VanAlstyne, master and owner, left Trenton Monday evening with lumber and passengers for Oswego. As she ran into the lake she caught she caught the wind from the east, and about 3 a.m. Tuesday, when between the Galloups and Duck Islands, the storm struck her with great fury. The yawl was carried away and at about 7 a.m. the deck load, consisting of 400,000 pickets and 50,000 feet of lumber, was washed overboard.

The wind jammed the barge down into Nine Mile Bay. She kept drifting towards the shore until she was within five hundred feet of the breakers. The passengers got ready to save themselves and for a time it seemed as though all hope of saving their lives lay in floating ashore on the lumber which constituted the cargo.

Capt. Vanalstyne and the mate, Richard Waters, however, did not despair, but worked heroically to save the vessel and the crew responded until she safely reached Oswego Tuesday night. For twenty-four hours no one tasted a mouthful of food and when she was safely moored some of the lady passengers, who had bravely faced what appeared to be an inevitable death, gave way to tears of joy at their wonderful escape.

The following are the passengers, all from the vicinity of Belleville: Mrs. Capt. Collier, Dorland Collier, Mrs. William I. Clark, Charles Clark, S.F. Jones, John Breen and daughter, George Pierson, Catharine La Point and Kate Waters.

p.4 Only Two Afloat - Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 31st - At Dunkirk the fleet of 15 boats suffered terribly during the storm yesterday and only two boats of the entire fleet are afloat. Many of the boats were out in the lake. When the storm broke they all made for shore, but were twisted before they got shelter. The tug Dandy reached her dock and went down in 15 feet of water. Another went down a few miles upshore. It is feared that two big barges with tows were lost during the storm. A lumber barge disappeared off Vanburen's Point and it is thought that her crew was lost with her. A barge towing four boats was badly crippled. She has not reached Erie yet. Bits of wrecks are beginning to float ashore at Silver Creek, Angola and Castle Beach, mostly of small boats. They tell their own story.

Had A Terrible Experience - Oswego, Aug. 31st - The barge Jennie Matthews, of the tug Proctor's tow, reported lost with all on board, was found by a tug and the life crew off this port today and brought safely into port. She was in a totally disabled condition, and the crew report a terrible experience.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
31 Aug 1893
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
Creative Commons licence:
pd [more details]
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

British Whig (Kingston, ON), 31 Aug 1893