The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 23 Oct 1905

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Capt. Milligan Tells About the Barge Minnedosa.

Tow Line Did Not Break.

The Catastrophe Came as a Great Surprise.

L.L. Henderson, local manager of the M.T. company, had a talk over the telephone with Capt. Milligan, of the S.S. Westmount, on the latter's arrival at Sarnia Saturday night. Capt. Milligan stated that the catastrophe occurred seven miles northeast of Harbor Beach. Saginaw Bay had been passed. The Minnedosa was the middle vessel, and, with the Melrose, was coming along all right. Capt. Milligan himself was on watch, and no signal of distress came from either of the barges. Suddenly the Minnedosa took a dive and went under the waters. The suddenness of the affair took all by surprise. The Westmount's tow line did not break. Instead, the Minnedosa's tow-post was pulled right out and was afterwards drawn in. It is the only portion of the barge left to serve as a remembrance of her fate. The tow line connecting the Minnedosa with the Melrose broke after the former sank. Capt. Milligan turned the Westmount about and circled around several times, in the hope of picking up some of the Minnedosa's crew, but none was to be seen upon the waters. The Westmount then picked up the Melrose and went into Harbor Beach.

Mr. Henderson thinks there were only eight persons aboard the Minnedosa. There had been nine, but two Kingston men left when the Minnedosa was here several weeks ago and only one replaced them. The mate's name was F.M. Waller, of Charlottetown, P.E.I., and John Enman, another sailor, came from the same place. James Allen's mother lives in Waterford, Ireland. A William Hall is mentioned on the vessel's pay list and he may be the eighth.


Booth's wharf: schooner Winnie Wing from Charlotte with coal.

The S.S. Westmount and consort Melrose will likely be here Wednesday morning.

The schooner Queen of the Lakes, from Charlotte with coal, is at the penitentiary wharf.

The M.T. company steamer Advance, Fort William to Montreal with wheat, passed Windsor yesterday.

M.T. company elevator: tug Emerson up with four light barges; steamer Donnaconna cleared for Fort William.

Richardsons' elevator: schooners Granger, Pilot and Plunket from bay ports; schooner Maggie L. from river ports, all with grain.

Craig's wharf: steamer Persia up today; steamer Alexandria down tonight; steamer Niagara up tonight; steamer Michigan due up tonight.

This morning, the Donnelly Wrecking company's vessels went up to Trenton, to raise the str. Melbourne, which was burned and sunk in the canal.

Swift's wharf: steamer Rideau King for Ottawa this morning; steamer Hamilton down yesterday; steamer Belleville due up tonight; steamer Aletha, bay ports.

The steamer Simla and consort Burmah cleared yesterday for Fort William, the Burma's steering gear having been repaired. The boats came back all the way from near Port Dalhousie.

The tug Reserve of the marine department lay in port yesterday, and left today to replace the acetylene tanks at Nine Mile Point, which were misplaced in Friday's storm. The law is to the effect that a boat shall have her name on her bow, but here is a government boat which fails to comply.

The schooner Lizzie Metzner, Kingston, had a narrow escape from going on the shore near the life saving station at Oswego, Friday. During the squall she broke away from her moorings at the Lackawanna trestle, and the wind carried her rapidly eastward. The captain dropped the anchor, but it did not hold, and she would have been dashed on the rocks if the tug Navagh had not been in the vicinity and gone to her rescue.




Officers of Westmount Tell Thrilling Tale.

Say Lives Sacrificed for an Overloaded Cargo.

Detroit, Mich., Oct. 23rd - For a paltry few hundred dollars, the price of an increase in cargo, nine lives were snuffed out in the gale off Harbor Beach, early Friday morning, when the schooner Minnedosa went to the bottom with her 75,000 bushels of wheat.

The story was told by Capt. Alexander Milligan, of the steamer Westmount, and Capt. R.A. Davy, of the schooner Melrose, as their boats passed here.

All the way from Fort William, where the Westmount, Minnedosa, and Melrose took on the last of their cargoes last Monday, the boats shoved their noses into the fierce winds and mountain waves. In that final battle, eight miles off Harbor Reach, just after midnight, Friday morning, each crew was hoping, praying, working for the safety of its own vessel.

When the Minnedosa, struggling with an overload, leaking in a dozen places, plunged to the bottom, where twenty fathoms of water raged above her, she went silently.

Knowing their overloaded craft was doomed, the heroic crew of the Minnedosa, the first consort, cut the tow line connecting with the Melrose, the second consort, to prevent the latter being dragged to the bottom.

When those nine lives were swallowed up, not a cry was heard. Not a warning of peril came from the Minnedosa and the crews of the steamer and of the other consort did not know when the sinking took place.

Mate John Black, of Kingston, standing on the steel steamer, looked aft one moment, and the Minnedosa was plunging from crest to trough, creaking and snapping in the gale, that was breaking her to pieces.

Back to her, the Melrose was scarcely discernible in the darkness. She had been cut loose from the schooner ahead and was fighting it alone.

The mate turned to speak to Capt. Milligan. Again he looked.

"My God, captain, where is the Minnedosa ?" he yelled above the storm.

The Minnedosa had disappeared.

Further away, the Melrose still tossed about, discernible only by the speck of a light that bobbed again and again above the waves.

When the steamer's steel cable that held the Minnedosa in tow was pulled in, the tow post of the sunken schooner was rooted from its fastenings and hoisted to the rail of the steamer. The tow-line had not broken.

For six long hours the captain of the Westmount tried to pick up the Melrose. Battered and buffeted, the Melrose was blown to sea and neither crew expected she would last till daylight.

Finally, at daybreak, the Westmount succeeded in her thirtieth attempt to throw her a line, and the Melrose was towed to Harbor Beach shelter.

On the Melrose were: Capt. Davey, accompanied by wife, daughter and son, of Kingston; George Davey, mate, his brother, Kingston; Fred Dunlop, James Tio, James Rolster, William Stewart and Dennis Murphy, all of Kingston; Richard Tucker, a saltwater sailor from England, who has spent this season on the lakes.

Those who went down with the Minnedosa were: Capt. John Phillips, Kingston, Ont.; Mrs. Phillips, captain's wife; Arthur Waller, Nova Scotia; George McDermott, Belleville, Ont.; James Allen, Nova Scotia, a passenger, and three sailors, names unknown to the captain of either the Westmount or Melrose, and whose homes are believed to be at Kingston.

Fears For Another Vessel - Cleveland, Oct. 23rd - Fears are entertained at headquarters of the Gilchrist Lake fleet that the 475 foot steamer S.J. Hecker, one of the biggest on the great lakes, is lost. The vessel carries a crew of twenty-three men. She was last reported on Friday passing the St. Clair river.

Pith of the News - Steamer Progress, of Cleveland, feared to be lost, has reached the Soo.

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23 Oct 1905
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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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), 23 Oct 1905