The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Nov. 17, 1900

Full Text
LOSS ABOUT $60,000

The two car ferry barges lost on Lake Erie by the Fischer were built at Toledo by the Craig Shipbuilding Co. in 1896. Each had a length of 306 feet, 47 feet beam and 12 feet hold, and track room for twenty-four cars. They cost the Wisconsin & Michigan Railway Co. in the neighborhood of $60,000, which is now the estimate of the combined loss on the vessels and their cargoes. Just how much pulpwood they had on is a matter of conjecture, but owing to their size, it could not have been less than 1,600 cords, or 800 cords each. All carrying was done on deck.

The barges were merely large flat scows. The Wisconsin & Michigan Railway Co. had a fleet of four built - two by James Davidson, of West Bay City, and two by the Craig company - for the transportation of freight in cars between Peshtigo harbor and South Chicago. The first pair came out in 1895, and the second in the season following. The venture, which promised success at the outset, proved a dismal failure after a fair trial, and the railway company then made the best disposition of the barges that it could. For a single season one of them, towed by the tug Fischer, carried iron products and material for the production of iron between Escanaba and Milwaukee and South Chicago under charter to Illinois Steel Co., two others engaged in ore and coal-carrying between Escanaba and Ohio and Lake Michigan ports towed by the tug J. C. Ames, and a fourth remained on the original route towed by the tug E. G. Crosby. But distributed as they might be, success failed to follow. This season the tug Fischer was engaged in random business with the three and four until quite recently eastern parties secured the fleet through charter for the transportation of pulpwood from some point on Georgian Bay to Erie. The last visit the Fischer and the lost barges paid to the head of Lake Michigan was when they were engaged in transporting a railway outfit consisting of two locomotives, one passenger coach and a number of ore cars from South Chicago to Michipicoten, on the Canadian shore of Lake Superior. The loss on the barges and their cargoes is total, as insurance could not have been obtained under any conditions.

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BARGE NO. 3 and BARGE NO. 4 were total losses in this incident, having foundered off Long Point after being cut loose by the FISCHER in a gale.
BARGE NO. 1 grounded in a storm on Thunder Bay Island, Lake Huron in November, 1918, and NO. 2 capsized and foundered due to a loading mishap in Chicago harbor in September, 1906.
The big (628 t.) steel tug S. M. FISCHER was built for towing these barges by the Lake Michigan Carferry Transportation Co., Michigan and Wisconsin Railway's operating agent for the venture. She was built at Craig's in 1896 and was sold French in 1924. The wooden tug J. C. AMES - formerly the J. C. PERRETT - was also acquired by LMCFT at the same time. She was abandoned in 1923.

Date of Original:
Nov. 17, 1900
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Dave Swayze
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
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Nov. 17, 1900