The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Oct 1909

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A Serious Disaster on Upper Lakes.


Detroit, Oct. 15th - In the wreck of the steamer George Stone, of Cleveland, on Point Pelee, on Wednesday, Upper Lake Erie added a gruesome chapter to the history of marine disasters on the great lakes.

Six lives were lost and twelve were saved and the tail end of the recent gale is lashing a hopelessly broken vessel that was not insured and belonged to M.A. Bradley, of Cleveland.

The six victims lost their lives when Capt. Paul Howell and Peter Daley, Erie, Pa., who was a passenger and friend of the captain, and six members of the crew were capsized in the surf attempting to go ashore for assistance.

Two of the crew clung to the overturned boat four hours until they drifted ashore, six were drowned when the lifeboat capsized and the remaining ten members of the crew were taken off the wreck about noon by steamer F.M. Osborne, of Cleveland, and brought to Detroit late today.

One of the ten brought to Detroit, John Diedrich, was knocked into the Detroit river by a crowd of strikers on the docks and narrowly escaped drowning.

The wooden steamer George Stone, 270 feet long and forty feet beam, built in 1893 and having a gross tonnage of 1,841, left Ashtabula, O., Monday at 3:30 p.m. with a load of coal for Racine, Wis. She began to feel the effect of the (3 words unreadable) gale about 6:30 o'clock, Monday evening and at midnight she began a desperate battle for life.

All day Tuesday, she fought valiantly but towards evening it became apparent that the pumps were unequal to the task of removing the water that poured into the hold through the seams opened by the buffeting of the waves. About 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Stone struck with a terrific jar, upon the sand bar known as Grubbs' Reef, nearly 5 miles off the western shore of Point Pelee.

Until daybreak the shipwrecked crew remained in the forward cabins and pilothouse. The one man was sent aloft with a bed sheet which he waved from the forward mast. But though three or four steamers came within sight, none responded and it was decided that help must be summoned from the shore. The vessel was now beginning to break up forward.

Fire added to the dangers of the situation. The pilothouse burned to the deck before before the blaze was subdued by the waves and spray. It is thought that one of the many lamps that were kept lighted in the pilothouse during the night to warm the drenched and shivering men was overturned by the pounding of the boat on the reef.

Toward nine o'clock, Wednesday, the danger of the vessel being broken to pieces became acute and Capt. Howell picked his crew for an attempt to reach shore in one of the small boats. The wooden boat was tried first, but while the attempt was being made to launch her the sea drove her against the steamer's side and broke a great hole in her side. Then was launched the steel lifeboat having air compartments at each end. In this boat the captain and his seven companions pulled away from the wreck.

The staunch little craft fought her way toward shore, but when almost outside the zone of danger a mountain comber capsized her and left her eight passenges struggling in the icy breakers. Second Mate Hindle and Wheelsman Conner were the only ones who managed to gain a hold on the lifeboat and they clung to it until driven ashore by the storm.

Capt. Grubb, of the Point Pelee lighthouse took Hindle and Conner to his home, where they quickly recovered from the effects of their four hours' exposure. The bodies of Peter Daly, Cook Lucas and Oiler Boyer were recovered from the breakers by Capt. Grubb.

Meanwhile the ten members of the crew who were left on board the wrecked vessel knew nothing of the fate of their companions. About eleven o'clock the upbound steamer F.M. Osborne, of Cleveland, responded to their signal of distress.

S.S. Athabasca Aground.

Owen Sound, Oct. 15th - This city was startled by the receipt of a message to the effect that the fine big Canadian Pacific steamer Athabasca had run aground in a terrible sea. The vessel struck on Flower Pot Island, at the north end of the Bruce peninsula. In the vicinity there is about seventy-five fathoms of water. The boat grounded Wednesday night during a blinding snow storm and is reported to be in a serious condition.

The Athabasca's bow is high on a flat rock and the main part of the ship is afloat in about fifteen fathoms of water. There is four feet of water in her hold.

The Athabasca is one of the finest passenger and freight carrying vessels on the great lakes. She is 270 feet long and was built on the Clyde, Scotland, and brought to this country in 1885, together with steamers Alberta and Algoma, the latter of which was wrecked the following year with great loss of life. She is in command of Captain Alex. Brown, considered one of the most capable captains on the lakes.



Marinemen gladly welcomed the change in the weather today. There is still quite a storm on the lake, but it is expected that vessels will be able to move out. There is considerable grain to come down from Fort William, and it is desired to have it rushed through as speedily as possible.

The steambarge Jeska, which was recently turned out at Davis' dry dock, is being given considerable praise for the way she stood the storm this week, and she was out in almost the entire storm. She went from Deseronto to Oswego with a cargo of lumber and then loaded coal for Washburn, and passed Kingston Thursday afternoon. She had a very rough passage, but stood the storm well.

The steamer Mapleton, which has been tied up here all week, cleared, last night, for the upper lakes.

The schooner Kitchen arrived from Toronto, light, and is loading feldspar at Richardsons'. Capt. Henry Daryeau was able to weather the storm, and at the same time made record time. He cleared from Toronto at eight o'clock on Wednesday night, and at three o'clock Thursday afternoon was in Kingston.

The steamer Advance is due up today, on her way from Montreal to Fort William. She has package freight.

The steamer Bothnia cleared for Port Colborne, to load grain for Montreal.

Swift's: steamer Aletha cleared for bay points at three o'clock this morning; steamer Mapleton cleared for Fort William Thursday afternoon, after being wind-bound fifteen hours; steamer Advance, up Thursday night, from Montreal to Fort William.

The schooner Bertha Kalkins will clear for Charlotte with feldspar.

The government boat Scout came up the river yesterday, to look after the buoys lost in the storm.

The steamer Sowards will clear for Oswego if the weather permits.

The long looked for steamer Rosemount and barge Hamilton arrived at the Montreal Transportation company's elevator, from Fort William, yesterday afternoon at five o'clock. She was held up several times on her trip down, by the storm. The tug Mary will clear tonight, for Montreal, with two grain barges; the tug Hall will arrive from Montreal, at noon, with three barges.

The steamers Iroquois and Haddington are on their way from Fort William with grain for the Montreal Transportation company's elevator. They are due on Monday.

The schooner Ford River loaded coal in Charlotte yesterday for the Montreal Transportation company.

The barge Columbian, from Bedford Mills, is at Booth's, unloading cordwood.

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15 Oct 1909
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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), 15 Oct 1909