The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 6 Jun 1903

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p.1 The steamer Water Lily, coal-laden, bound from Oswego to Wolfe Island, which went ashore nine miles east of Oswego, N.Y. port, was released after throwing several hundred tons of coal overboard.



Empire State Well Nigh Destroyed.

The steamer Empire State, of the Thousand Island Steamboat Line, was destroyed by fire late last night, at the railway wharf, in full view of the city buildings. Though the hour was close to midnight, large crowds of people stood on Ontario street, on the railway tracks and on top of cars watching the flames consume the big passenger steamer. At 9:20 o'clock the fire brigade was called out to extinguish a blaze in the saloon cabin of the boat. How the fire originated is a mystery, as the boat has been unused. A spark from a passing locomotive or spontaneous combustion may have caused the outbreak. The fire was discovered around the smokestack at the stairway leading to the saloon cabin. Two streams were thrown into the boat and after half an hour the blaze was extinguished, the cabin being well scorched.

An hour and a half later flames burst from the Empire State and in a few minutes enveloped the vessel from the paddle boxes to the stern, and made the sky a fiery red. Alarms were telephoned to the two stations, and the brigade was again on the spot in quick time. The conflagration was so fierce that the onlookers thought the K. & P. railway freight sheds and offices might be in danger, as sparks began to fall about. Fortunately however, the firemen, after playing two streams into the burning boat for five minutes, got the fire under control, though some time elapsed before the flames were extinguished.

It seemed as if the fire had made its second start under the large paddle box on the right side of the vessel. The flames extended all along the upper deck to the stern, all that portion being completely destroyed. The brigade prevented the fire from getting a hold forward, attacking the flames vigorously, and climbing fearlessly on to the burning decks to play the streams into the roaring furnace. By midnight there was little fire visible.

The steamer Empire State will be almost a complete loss. She was insured. In 1892 she came here to join the ranks of the White Squadron, being formerly the old Sylvian Stream, but rebuilt and having false sides added. She carried 1,000 passengers, and had a speed of 15 miles an hour.

The Folgers were expecting to dispose of the Empire State next week, a marine man being due here on Monday to look over the vessel with a view to purchasing it.

The firemen remained at the boat till three o'clock this morning, so that there would be no chance of the blaze breaking out again. The wharf caught fire and blazed fiercely for a while.

There were six carloads of freight in railway cars lying on the sidings close to the burning steamer. A tank of oil occupied another car, and A. McNaughton, station agent, had it removed.


Richardsons' elevator: steamer Erin and consorts cleared up.

Spile wharf: steambarge Parsons, from Charlotte, with soft coal.

The fog horn at Nine Mile Point sounded all day yesterday, for it could be plainly heard in the city.

The steamer Island Belle is now running regular trips between Clayton, Brockville and Ogdensburg.

Swift's wharf: steamer Toronto down and up; steamer Rideau King from Ottawa; steamer North King, Sunday morning, from Charlotte.

The heavy smoke-fog which has covered the lake and river for the past few days is a great hindrance to vessels, many of which do not dare move out.

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6 Jun 1903
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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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 6 Jun 1903