Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Milwaukee (Steamboat), aground, 28 Nov 1859
Full Text

Intelligence was received yesterday to the effect that the steamer MILWAUKEE of the Detroit and Milwaukee Railway Line, running on Lake Michigan, went ashore at Grand Haven night before last at about 9:00. She was not in any danger at the time, as the wind was favorable, but since then dispatches have been received which state that the wind increased during the day, so that at night the swell was breaking over her in a manner which rendered her safety a matter of doubt. The agent of the insurance companies that held the risk on her went to Grand Haven by the express train yesterday morning to take charge of the boat.
      She was beached in consequence of a very singular accident, and in quite calm weather. The regular train had just arrived and transferred its passengers, and she was about leaving for Milwaukee, when, just as she arrived outside, the rudder chain got foul by drawing a piece of heavy canvas into the pulley block in such a manner that it was rendered immovable. The wheelsman at once lost control of the boat, and, in 10 minutes after leaving the dock, she was fast on an exposed and dangerous beach, which very few, if any, shipwrecked vessels have ever got away from. Assistance was at hand in the shape of steam tugs, but up to the last accounts nothing had been effected towards pulling her off. She lies in a critical condition, and her safety depends entirely on the weather. A strong blow would demolish her in a few hours.
      Detroit Free Press
      November 30, 1959

THE STEAMSHIP "MILWAUKEE".--This splendid new steamship, plying between Grand Haven and Milwaukee, ashore high and dry on the sand at Grand Haven, has sustained no particular damage thus far, and the Detroit Advertiser says it believes she can be got off with the rise of water which accompanies a north wind. The MILWAUKEE cost $172,000 and is heavily insured.
      Cleveland Morning leader
      December 8, 1859

      . . . . .

      The steamer MILWAUKEE is still on the beach at Grand Haven, an attempt having been made to get her off, which resulted unsuccessfully on account of the breaking of the fastening which held her when partly drawn off. The Milwaukee papers give some account of the operations:
      On Friday and Saturday, the weather being favorable, all the necessary arrangemants were made. Two heavy anchors were placed in the lake, with 75 fathoms of 1 1/4 inch chain, and 150 fathoms of 9 inch hawser, which was carried to the forward chock on the port side. A little to the north of this, with a 1 1/4 inch chain leading to the port bow, were 2 anchors of 22 cwt. each; further northwards still were placed 2 anchors of 24 cwt. each, from which to the starboard bow was extended 100 fathoms of 1 1/8 inch chain; on the inboard end of each chain was a two fold purchase fall, the ends of which were taken around the shaft of the steamer. The hawser was placed on a powerful capstan. The arrangements being completed, all that was wanted was a nor'wester to kick up a sea, which made its appearance at about 1:00 Monday morning, and from that time until 12:00 Tuesday everything worked with complete satisfaction to all on board, and, although the winds were high and the sea heavy, by 1:00 Tuesday afternoon she was all afloat except about 10 feet of her stern.
      At that time the chain on the port bow parted and shortly afterwards the large chain and hawser.
      Detroit Free Press
      December 12, 1859

      . . . . .

      THE STEAMER MILWAUKEE. - We regret to learn by the Detroit Tribune of
Saturday, that the last efforts to get this costly steamer off the beach at Grand Haven, has resulted in her being driven higher and harder on the beach than before, and that she now lies, beam ends to the north, surrendered, at least for a time to the buffetings of the sea and the storm.
      Cleveland Morning Leader
      December 13, 1859
      . . . . .

      The splendid steamer MILWAUKEE, built by the Great Western Railway Co. Last summer at a cost of $140,000, ran ashore recently at Grand Haven and has become a total loss. She was insured for $ 117,000.
      Stratford (Ont.) Beacon
      December 16, 1859.
      . . . . .

      The MILWAUKEE was got off the beach on Saturday, and now lies at her dock in Grand Haven. She is undoubtedly injured to some extent by the casualty; how much we are unable to state exactly. One of her arches is badly damaged and will need repairs. The accident will probably cost the insurance companies ten or fifteen thousand dollars. The railroad company losing nothing except her service during her disability. She is well through with it, for very few vessels of any kind ever escape the perils of the spot. Nothing but her extrodinary strength saved her from going to pieces.
      Detroit Free Press
      December 20, 1859

      . . . . .

      The steamer MILWAUKEE of the Detroit and Milwaukee Railway Line, is to be taken to Chicago for rapairs. She will go upon the drydock of Miles & Doolittle, of the North Branch. The steam tug McQUEEN is to turn out as an ice breaker and open the way up the river for the MILWAUKEE.
      Detroit Free Press
      December 25, 1859

      . . . . .

      The Milwaukee ferry boat, the steamer MILWAUKEE, has come into our river to go into the drydock of Messrs. Doolittle & Miller, on the North Branch. The gallant little tug McQUEEN has fallen victim to her generous exertions for her big brother craft, and lies sunk at Sturges & Buckingham's dock, having stove a hole in her hull in breaking a way through the ice at the mouth of the river. She is just even. She is just even to the water's edge, and will be got out readily. The MILWAUKEE lies on the north side of the river, below the Rush Street bridge. From present appearances, it will be no light undertaking to force a way for a mile and a half up the river, if it be undertaken, the ice not having made very solid. The MILWAUKEE is a noble craft, and we don't wonder our neighbors down the lake are proud of her. She will come out in the spring as good as new. - Chicago Tribune, 27th.
      Detroit Free Press
      December 29, 1859

      . . . . .

Steam paddle MILWAUKEE. U. S. No. 16619. Of 1,039 tons. Built Buffalo, N.Y., 1859. Home port, Buffalo, N.Y. DISPOSITION:-- Lost 1868.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States,
      1790 to 1868. The Lytle - Holdercamp List

Item Type
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Remarks: Got off
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.06307 Longitude: -86.22839
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Milwaukee (Steamboat), aground, 28 Nov 1859