The Comanche's Famous Trip
Six Days and Eight Hours From Chicago to Oswego
Sailing records on the lakes by the old type canal schooners came in for a lively discussion at Parsons' ship chandlery store last night and Commodore Crimmins pointed out that the schooner Comanche, built by the late James Navagh back in the sixties, had a record trip from Chicago to Oswego in the latter part of November in the year 1889.
The Comanche was built for the late Charles Smythe, then prominent in commercial business at this port, but had met with a lot of hard luck. In the Fall of 1886 she was dismasted in a snowstorm off Pillar Point while in tow of the tug Charlie Ferris to Ogdensburg and went on the beach, the tug breaking her wheel and narrowly escaping a similar fate.
After that she was purchased by Captain Thomas Dobbie, John K. Post, W.D. Allen and Commodore Crimmins, and with new spars, sails and gear, was one of the staunch vessel on the lakes. Captain David Beggs, now living in Chicago, was master and in November, 1889, he wired the owners that he could get a cargo of corn for the Oswego starch factory at 6 1/2 cents a bushel. The owners wired him to take the cargo if he thought best and the late Captain Thomas J. Beggs, then master of the schooner American, which he commanded after the retirement of his father, came down with his brother as mate.
The run was uneventful until they reached Lake Erie when they encountered a gale of wind blowing and Captain Beggs, instead of waiting for better wether conditions, decided to test the new spars and sails and the schooner made the run of Lake Erie in seventeen hours. At Port Colborne no time was lost in making the trip through the canal, but at Port Colborne it was found that a gale from the North was sweeping over Lake Ontario and a big fleet of Oswego-bound craft was found lying in the harbor there.
Again Captain Beggs decided that it was a good time to still further test both sails and spars and amid misgivings from other skippers, the Comanche was seen skipping down the north shore of Ontario and then went across the lake before the wind, reaching port exactly six days and eight hours from the time she left her dock in Chicago until she landed at the at the Northwestern elevator. There was an up freight of $2.20 per ton on coal that Fall and Captain Beggs wanted to make another run back to Chicago, but because of delay in getting the cargo of coal here the up trip was abandoned.
Commodore Crimmins says that the largest freight ever received on grain from Chicago, that he has heard of, was thirty-four cents a bushel in the schooner Joel B. Penfield, afterwards the Vickery. She carried 13,000 bushels of wheat and received for delivering the cargo here about $6,120.