The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Sep 1905

Full Text



Blowing Up of Tioga at Chicago.

[Watertown, N.Y., Standard]

An echo of one of the worst steamboat disasters in the shape of an explosion that ever occurred on the upper lakes is reverberated after fifteen years by the receipt by Captain Austin A. Phelps, Dexter, N.Y., of a communication from the steamboat company owning the boat requesting his presence in Chicago next week at a trial.

Fifteen years ago the summer just passed Captain Phelps sailed the Tioga, one of the largest vessels on the lakes. With him as first mate was Captain James Jackson, of Sackett's Harbor. On the occasion referred to, they had just arrived in Chicago with a large cargo, a part of which was kerosene, but according to the statement of Captain Phelps naptha had been smuggled in, the barrels containing it being marked with a "B" inside of a diamond, which mark was to him unknown. Captain Phelps had just stepped off the Tioga into the warehouse where the oil was to be rolled. Mate Jackson had gone into another gangway after a hoisting device, and a crowd of stevedores were in the hold, one of them with a light when the explosion occurred.

With the explosion bodies flew in all directions. No one was injured. Every stevedore in and about the boat was killed outright, the bodies of twenty eight being picked up. So severe was the crash that the bones in their bodies were all broken. All of them wore belts and when their lifeless remains were picked up by the belts their head and heels would touch.

The Tioga was almost a total wreck. It was necessary to sink her in order to put out the fire. The warehouse was wrecked and buildings for some distance around had the windows blown to atoms.

Actions were commenced against the Union Steamboat company of Buffalo. Captain Phelps was the principal witness for the defence, and not a single plaintiff was able to recover. Although fifteen years have passed, it appears that other cases are to be tried, despite the fact that in this state the limitation in which a negligence action can be brought is two years. These cases are scheduled for the United States court.

Record Run From Fort William.

Seven days from Fort William to Montreal, via the lakes and St. Lawrence canals, is the record which has been achieved by the Montreal Transportation company. The steamer Rosemount, Capt. John Wood, left Fort William on Monday, midnight, 18th inst., with a full cargo of new Manitoba wheat, consigned to Montreal. This wheat sped through the lakes on the Rosemount, was lightened at the Welland canal, and transferred at Kingston into river barges, reaching here Tuesday in time to place it on board the steamships which were awaiting it. The distance by water from Fort William to Montreal is something upward of twelve hundred miles and up to very recently eleven or twelve days was considered a fair passage while ten days consumed in making the journey was very fast indeed. [Montreal Star]

Marine Notes.

Craig's wharf: propeller Lake Michigan down yesterday; propeller Persia down yesterday.

Swift's wharf: steamer Kingston down and up; steamer Belleville up last night; steamer Rideau King for Ottawa; steamer Aletha from bay ports.

The steamer Toronto came out of the government dry-dock this morning. She will be here till Sunday, having her wheels put on. Then she goes to Toronto.

M.T. company elevator: steamer Algonquin from Fort William with 77,000 bushels of wheat; steamer Turret Crown from Fort William, with 88,000 bushels of wheat; tug Emerson cleared down with one coal and two grain-laden barges.

The government dredge Sir Wilfred Laurier, sunk while being delivered last year, but was located near Oshawa some 2 months ago, will not be raised this year. Both the builders and the insurance company are interested in the dredge. The delay in coming to a decision regarding the cost of wrecking operations and the necessarily slow communications between here and London make it impossible to do anything this fall. The dredge will not be impacted by remaining in its present location, as it is below the motion of the waves.

p.8 What Inspector Davis Suggested - Capt. Peter Trickey, of the steamyacht Sophia, which was burned at Rockport last week, states that had the suggestion of Inspector Davis, of Kingston, been carried out, the yacht could have been saved. The inspector, in his examination, suggested that a pump, over the boiler, be removed either fore or aft. The inspection law did not require the change, but the inspector thought it would be of greater value in another position. The captain regrets that Mr. Davis' suggestion had not been followed.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
28 Sep 1905
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), 28 Sep 1905