The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 29 Nov 1905

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Chicago, Nov. 29th - Reports received up to early today, show that eighteen vessels were wrecked in the storm; five vessels are reported missing.

A Schooner Sunk.

St. Paul, Nov. 29th - A special from Duluth says the schooner George Herbert was sunk off Two Islands, on the North Shore, and it is reported five men were drowned.

The Steel Corporation's steamer Mariposa is said to be ashore at Little Rock. The damage by the storm is estimated at one million dollars.

Nine Are Drowned.

Duluth, Minn., Nov. 29th - Nine of the steamer Mataafa, including five men, and engineer, have been drowned. The steamer is going to pieces.

Abandon Attempt.

Sarnia, Ont., Nov. 29th - The Reid Wrecking company has abandoned the attempt to release the schooner Alta, wrecked on Grand Island, near Munising, in the big October gale. The Alta is fast on a reef, and will probably soon go to pieces. Most of her deck load of 25,000 feet of lumber has drifted ashore, and has been picked up by men who refuse to give it up unless paid one-third of the appraised value.



The Schooner Kalkins At Cape Vincent.

A little anxiety was felt for the schooner Kalkins, which was caught on the lake yesterday in the snow storm, when it did not arrive last evening. However, it was learned from Capt. Allen, of the steamer New Island Wanderer, which returned from Cape Vincent, last evening, that the Kalkins had run into shelter at the Cape at five o'clock in the afternoon and was all right. The Kalkins has coal for James Sowards & Co. She is sailed by Capt. "Mack" Shaw, of Brighton. This season, it has proved dangerous for vessels to venture on the lake so late, as storms have arisen with marked rapidity.

Damaged Cargo Sold.

The damaged wheat in the barge Melrose has been sold by the underwriters, represented by Capt. Thomas Donnelly, to George Richardson & Sons, for twenty cents a bushel. The damaged portion amounted to 12,800 bushels. The remaining 27,000 bushels were delivered dry, and will be discharged here. It will take a couple of days to unload the Melrose, which is being kept afloat by the Donnelly Wrecking company. Afterwards the Melrose will enter the government dry dock for repairs.

Movements of Vessels.

Due to yesterday's storm the steamer did not make a trip up the bay, remaining in port overnight.

The steamer Simla and consort Burma, from Toledo with corn, are due at Richardsons' elevator today.

The schooner Acacia, having unloaded her coal at the Locomotive Works, has gone into winter quarters at the Locomotive works' slip.

The tug Edmond and barge Columbia are owned by J.T. Tett & Bro., Bedford Mills, and sailed by Captain Pritchard, Kingston.

The schooner Queen of the Lakes, from Sodus with coal, is due at Richardsons' wharf today. Part of her cargo will be discharged at Garden Island.

The S.S. Algonquin arrived this morning from Fort William and is unloading grain at the Frontenac Milling company's elevator. Her last trip from here was a good one, considering the lateness of the season, the run being made in twelve days.

The steamer Rosemount is anchored off Welcome Island, Lake Superior. So the M.T. company is advised by the captain of the S.S. Fairmount, which reached Fort William today. It was rumored the steamer was ashore, but the message sets the statement at rest.

The K. & M. F. company barges, now controlled by the G.T.R., are on their way from Coteau Landing to Kingston. They will again winter at Portsmouth. This will be good news to the workingmen, who will be assured of a good winter's work in connection with the annual repairs.

Drained The Canal - locks at Washburn are being repaired; water drained off at Kingston Mills.

Another Comment on the Wolfe Island Dredging Question - letter to editor saying that "Ratepayer" didn't know what he was talking about in his earlier letter to editor.

Incidents of the Day - James Stewart returned last night from Coteau Landing after completing the season as manager of the G.T.R. barge line at that place.



Vessels Go Ashore Near Duluth Harbor.

Duluth, Minn., Nov. 28th - In one of the most terrific gales in the history of the great lakes, surpassing in fury the terrible storm of last September, in which so many men lost their lives, three big lake steamers were today driven ashore within sight of the lighthouse at the Duluth entrance to the local harbor. Several of the crew of one vessel, the Mataafa, are believed to have perished.

The wrecks are the Crescent City and the Mataafa, of the Pittsburg Steamship company, and the R.W. England, owned by the England Transportation company, of Cleveland.

The life savers at 11:30 gave up their efforts to reach the Mataafa. The boat has broken in two, but the decks are still out of water. It is thought that the twenty-six men have frozen to death, as there is no sign of life on board.

For thirteen consecutive hours, between eleven o'clock, Monday night, and twelve o'clock today, the wind averaged sixty miles an hour, and at times blew at the rate of seventy miles. The Mataafa is being slowly pounded to pieces. The crew of the Crescent City escaped, but the craft is a wreck. The England is lying on the sand, and is in no danger of going to pieces.

The captain of the England, R.W. England, was taken off by the life-saving crew with the help of a breeches buoy. The sailors will remain on the boat until tomorrow.

The Mataafa left here at five o'clock last night with the Nasmyth in tow. She was captained by R.F. Humble. A mile or two out she was forced to turn back, leaving the Nasmyth, which immediately anchored. The roll of the waves threw the Mataafa starboard, and she struck the north pier fairly on the end. A moment later she veered off slightly with her bow headed between the canal piers. She had swung quartering to the waves, however, and was unable to proceed.

At the entrance the waves were almost mountainous and great clouds of water kept sweeping the vessel from stem to stern. It soon became evident she would be unable to make the harbor. An effort was made to turn her out into the lake again, but she turned almost completely around and went on the beach broadside. Every wave swept completely over the boat.

With thousands of people watching them, almost within a stone's throw, and unable to do anything, the crew huddled on the stern. The life-safing crew did not reach the Mataafa until nearly six o'clock. Sometime before that the men slipped down the ventilators into the hold of the boat.

Their only chance is that there may be some compartment there watertight enough to hold them until rescued.

The Crescent City, Capt. Frank Rice, was the first of three to go aground. She went on the rocks near Duluth at 6 p.m. Every member of the crew of twenty-six men escaped. The boat struck so as to bring her port side against a rock and thus afford a natural landing place.

Strewn With Wrecks.

Detroit, Mich., Nov. 28th - Lake Superior, from Duluth to the "Soo," the upper peninsula of Michigan, the upper ends of Lakes Huron and Michigan, and the northern counties of lower Michigan, have been swept last night and today by a terrific wind and snow storm.

Tremendous seas are running on Lake Superior off Marquette harbor, and many vessels are riding out the gale inside the breakwater there.

The greatest damage reported from Lake Huron is at Alpena. The barge Harvey Bissell was torn to pieces by the gale. The barge Vinland broke away from her consort and is aground.

The small passenger steamer City of Holland went on the rocks while trying to make the harbor of Rogers City. The passengers and crew were taken off by a crew from shore.

More than a dozen vessels are in shelter at Port Huron. One schooner, the J.M. Spaulding, was unable to make the harbor and went on the beach. The crew reached shore safely in their yawl.

Thousands of dollars damage was done to property at Menominee and along Green Bay.

The steamer Jim Sheriffs, which left Alpena last night with the barges Mowatt and E.T. Judd, in tow, returned tonight without her barges. Nothing has been heard from the Judd and it is feared she is lost.

Another Vessel On Rocks.

Duluth, Minn., Nov. 29th - The steamer Edenboro is on the rocks at Split Rock.



What It Meant to Crew of the Mary.

[Toronto Telegram]

Oh, the time to sail on the lake schooner is the last trip in the fall, when the water is cold and heavy, and the sea makes quick, and freezes as it bursts aboard, and the wind has the edge of an axe and the weight of a maul; when the big salt barrel under the gallant forecastle is fresh filled with salt, to cut the ice from deck and gear; and weather boards are lashed to the lanyards of the lower rigging, to keep the coils on the pin-racks from getting iced up; and the yellow gloom of new manila and double-ought duck shows among the sails and cordage, replacing the stuff worn old and thin with the season's work.

Then it is that the deep well of the forecastle fumes like a furnace, with the continuous blast of its red-hot stove; and the galley, unless the cook is a termagant, achieves unwanted popularity with the watch on deck, on account of the grateful warmth of its cooking range; and even the "old man," chilled in the solitary grandeur of his wind-swept stateroom, unbends a little and thaws out occasionally between watches, in the galley or forecastle as his dignity will permit.

The last trip in the fall may be short - a daylight run down, and a day to load, and a daylight run up; and that means money for freights are often double; or the sulky old wind may blow his lungs out from the north-west, weeks on end, and the trip may last a month; and that means getting in the hole, for wages are high in the fall, crews have to be kept up to full strength or over, and the wear and tear on gear is big; to say nothing of the chance of wiping off a season's profit by blowing out an outfit of sails or carrying away a set of spars.

And when she makes the dock with the last load the chances are the old man will take the boys up to the nearest bar, and buy lemonade all round, with cigars for the fellows in the crowd who never touch it.

Young Andy Baird came aboard of us as soon as our lines were out, down in Fairhaven the last trip in the fall last year. He wore a shaggy fur cap that matched, unintentionally, his quick brown eyes, and a brown tarpaulin coat with a corduroy collar, and his overalls were stuffed into heavy leather sea-boots showing red and raw on the crinkles. No figure, perhaps, for a ball room, but a smart looking sailor man. His vessel, the Mary, was lying at the head of the coal trestle, waiting for a slant.

"And I hope," he says, "it comes tomorrow, for I'm twenty-one days out."

He had news to tell. The Annie Falconer was lost off South Bay Point, and "Shell" Sullivan had died of exposure.

And of course he couldn't tell, that just a year later the Mary would be seen scudding under bare poles past Oswego in a turmoil of waters that told the tugmen that nothing less than a liner could live, and then nothing more heard of her until a couple of weeks later when her cabin-house and water-barrel would be seen washing about the lake.

Sailormen don't make the last trip in fall for their health, and neither did Andy Baird. To the boys for-ard the last trip in the fall means a bit of money to carry them over the winter, for wages, as said before, are good. To the "Old Man" aft if, as in Andy Baird's case, the captain is also the owner, it may mean enough money to atone for an otherwise meagre season, for the freight rate is high.

And young Andy Baird, and his crew of three, with wives at home and winter coming on, took their chance; not like gamblers, but heroes.

And it was cruel, cruel, cruel, the cat-like caress of fortune at the start. It was Friday, fatal Friday, when they shipped away from their home port, Napanee, down the river, down the reach, past Hay Bay and Bass Cove, out into South Bay through the Upper Gap, and then south, south, south, south, past Timber Island and the False Ducks and across the bounding billows on the great lake, with the wind blowing steady and strong and fair from the north-west, until the bluffs at Fairhaven and the long, deep harbors of the south shore received them.

The storm signals, with the big black drum and upside down cone, that Sunday, for the heavy gale from the eastward, did not worry them, for they were lying snug at the head of the coal trestle, just as they did a year ago.

And when the gale blew out that night, and the wind drew to the westward again Monday morning, while two hundred and ten tons of coal thundered from the chutes into the little schooner's hatches, they rejoiced. It was a fair wind home, or at least as far as South Bay Point. This wasn't going to be any twenty-one day trip; they would be back perhaps by Tuesday or Wednesday.

So out they towed at eleven o'clock on Monday morning, with their coal under hatches, and their dinner on the galley fire.

And it freshened and freshened and freshened. It would be just forty miles across to the lee of South Bay Point, and perhaps they tried to crack it to her for four or five hours and get that shelter, so much nearer home, and blew out every stitch she had in the process. Or perhaps the sails burst to tatters before they could get her shortened down.

Certain it is, when they saw her off Oswego, she was helpless. Lake schooners very, very seldom strip to bare poles, if they have to wrestle a gale of wind for the reason that shorn of their wings they are unmanageable.

Once the Mary, her deck within twelve inches or so of the water, got rolling in the trough, without the steadying influence of sails, the end came quick. The great combers of the lake, sweeping down three at a time, spilt over the bulwarks, on both sides, flooding the reeling decks with tons of water that the scuppers could not disgorge. They might have freed her, perhaps, by knocking away the bulwarks, as they did in the Lizzie Metzner the other day, but the sea didn't give them the chance. Forecastle and cabin, the only buoyant spaces, fore and aft, were flooded before the pumps could be manned, and the two hundred odd tons of coal that filled the hold dragged the vessel down from under the feet of the crew of four - and wives are weeping in Napanee.

p.8 Capt. Thomas Donnelly went up to Oshawa, this afternoon, to look after the cargo of the schooner Oliver Mowat, insured in a Buffalo company.

The Richardsons have chartered an upper lake steamer to bring 68,000 bushels of barley to Kingston, next Monday. The freight is four and a half cents a bushel.

Lost Her Jibs - The schooner Kalkins, which escaped from the storm yesterday and ran into Cape Vincent for shelter, lost her jibs, and was unable to work around here. The tug Frontenac went to the Cape to tow the schooner to Kingston, and will reach here late this afternoon.

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29 Nov 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.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 29 Nov 1905