The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Dec 1897

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Abandoned, But Afterwards Successfully Floated.

Congratulations! congratulations! congratulations! These are the initial words of many telegrams received by the Donnelly wrecking company from hosts of friends upon the successful release of the steamer Rosedale,and the words may be interpreted in their full meaning, for in floating the steamer the company achieved a signal success, fully recognized by both Canadians and Americans interested in wrecking. Abandoned, deserted and left to the mercy of winds and waves by the insurance companies who hold possession, the iron clad remained in her exposed position, beset by veritable fresh water pirates, until the Donnelly company undertook to float the wreck. Her abandonement occurred on Thursday of last week, and on the following Thursday she was towed triumphantly into port, disabled but still afloat.

The successfully completed task is, indeed, worthy of recognition by all wrecking companies, and mariners, and shows what experience, indomitable energy and a complete wrecking outfit can do. After working from Sunday until Thursday, the insurance representatives, assisted by local captains, were forced to cease their efforts to float the boat. They worked energetically and to the best advantage, but owing to prevailing storms, and limited apparatus, they were not successful. On the following Saturday, after considerable figuring, and some competition, the Donnelly wrecking and salvage company signed a contract to place the steamer in the government dry dock for a sum of money in the neighborhood of $17,000 on the condition, "no boat, no pay." Their risk was indeed great. The steamer had been abandoned once, the lateness of the season made the condition of the weather an uncertainty, and in the face of possible storms, their expensive wrecking apparatus and schooner Grantham were exposed to danger. However, they were determined to release the costly boat, if at all possible. As soon as the contract was signed, preparations were immediately begun. Pumps, rigging and fuel were placed on board the Grantham, and on Saturday afternoon a start was made for the wreck, it being reached about 6:30 o'clock that evening. All night the wreckers were employed in transferring pumps and coal to the steamer, and on the day following, the pumps were placed between the steamers' decks, to enable them to work with better effect, having a shorter lift. One pump was placed at the fire hold, to clear the furnace and engine room of water. As soon as clear fires were started under the steamer's boiler to furnish steam for the pumps, which had been properly connected with the boiler. This work occupied the greater part of Monday. Two additional pumps were taken out on Tuesday and connected, completing a service of six pumps - three twelve-inch rotaries, one ten-inch horizontal, Worthington, one ten-inch centrifugal, and one sixteen inch horizontal, the old Niagara. Owing to a heavy sea running on Tuesday the steamer could not be lightened very much, but at daylight the following day every pump was put in motion with 110 pounds' pressure of steam. The object of the wreckers was to clear the forward compartments of as much grain as was necessary to uncover her damaged bottom, so as to raise her off the rocks. The pumps have been in motion steadily ever since. At six o'clock Wednesday evening the steamer had risen sufficiently to allow her to float off, and the tug Reginald and steamer New Island Wanderer, waiting in readiness, took her in tow, and made for the American channel to get free of the sea. The wreckers although thoroughly fatigued with their hard work, wore bright faces, and light hearts, as the steamer passed over the shoal, even though with slow speed. When Hinckley's flats were reached it was found the steamer was settling. She was beached and rested easily until Thursday, when, after having freed her of water, the journey was resumed at daylight, but in her broken condition, the steamer made slow progress. The Reginald towed ahead, and the Wanderer remained alongside to guide the Rosedale. The steering gear of the Rosedale had been repaired and connected, but her stern, being well out of water, she would not answer her helm. Her bow being low in the water, it was found advantageous to tow her stern first. The disabled steamer, with steam sputtering upwards, and six streams of water pouring from both sides, presented a strange sight as the tow slowly rounded Point Frederick. She was run alongside of Craig's wharf and tied up for the night, all pumps still going at full speed. The steamer's engine had also been brushed up and set in motion under the charge of James Halpin, second engineer of the steamer Bothnia, but formerly of the Rosedale.

The fact that the steamer had to be beached on Wednesday night shows her to be in a pretty bad condition, and the success of the work done, under the supervision of John Donnelly, jr., is highly creditable in the fullest sense of the term. Mr. Donnelly attributes the success of the venture to two things, the first being the high and steady supply of steam pressure, and owing to navigation being closed, he was able to associate with him engineers and sailors of practical experience, and who made successful wreckers. He never had a crew, under him, that worked so energetically and intelligently. He also makes special mention of the efforts of "Sandy" Donnelly and diver Charles.

The success of the Donnelly company cannot be taken as a reflection on the efforts of the first wreckers under Capt. McLeod. They probably had rougher weather to contend against, and their facilities for the work were not so complete. Capt. McLeod is a practical wrecker with much experience, and under the circumstances made an excellent effort. Temporary repairs will be done to the Rosedale to-day to ease the leakage until she is able to enter the dry-dock. Until then she remains in charge of the Donnelly wrecking company.

The following telegrams were received by the company: From Sydney Crocker, representing the Western insurance company, "Congratulate you heartily"; from R.E. Rispen, representing the insurance on the steamer's cargo, "Congratulations: may all your ventures prove so successful; will have to take two (drinks)," from alderman J. Stewart, who is at Ogdensburg, "Congratulations; you never fail in your undertakings, hurray!"

Marine Paragraphs.

The two Midland pumps used in the wrecking work on the S.S. Rosedale were shipped back to Midland to-day.

The schooner Fabiola reached port last evening with a load of coal for James Swift & Co. As soon as she is discharged she will go into winter quarters.

At a meeting of the board of directors of the Richelieu and Ontario navigation company, in Montreal on Wednesday, it was determined, after some discussion, to call the new steamers to be built in Toronto the Toronto and the Kingston.

The schooner Grantham, engaged in the wrecking work on the Rosedale, spread her own canvas yesterday and sailed down the American channel of the river to the foot of Wolfe Island. There she anchored until picked up by the steamer Pierrepont last night on her way back from Gananoque.

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17 Dec 1897
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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.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 17 Dec 1897