Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Manitoba (Steamboat), collision, 26 Aug 1875
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The steamer MANITOBA, of the Beatty Line collided with the propeller COMET Thursday evening at 8:40, above Whitefish Point, Lake Superior and sunk her instantly. Ten were lost and sixteen saved. The MANITOBA returned to the Soo. The COMET's cargo was pig iron, silver ore and 50 sacks of wool.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Saturday, August 28, 1875

      . . . . .
      The American Propeller 'Comet' sunk by the 'Manitoba'
      The MANITOBA Not Injured
DETROIT Aug, 27. -- The Canadian steamer MANITOBA came in collision with the propeller COMET about White Fish Point, Lake Superior, last night, and sank her almost instantly. Ten lives were lost, and ten persons saved, including the Captain and first mate of the
COMET. No one was injured on the MANITOBA, and she is now bound down with the survivors of the COMET.
SARNIA Aug. 27. -- Last night about 8:30 the steamer MANITOBA and the propeller COMET collided off White Fish Point, sinking the COMET almost immediately. It is reported that ten lives were lost. The MANITOBA returned with the rest of the crew of the COMET as far as Sault Ste. Marie, and put them aboard the steamer QUEBEC, and proceeded upon her trip. She was not damaged. The QUEBEC is expected on Sumday, and is anxiously waited on for particulars.
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. Aug. 27. -- The steamer MANITOBA, of Beatty's line, arrived here at nine o'clock this morning, having run back from White Fish Point with the survivors of the propeller COMET, which was sunk last night off Parisian Island. The names of the persons saved from the COMET are as follows:-Francis Duyot, of Cleveland, captain; John Gore, of Troy, N. Y., first mate; William H. Weaver, of Cleveland, second mate; James Rafferty and Leopold Smith, wheelsmen; John Scott, look-out; Charles Conner, porter; Thomas Murphy and Peter Handlor, deck hands; also one coloured fireman, name unknown. Among the drowned are Babey and Brown, the first and second engineers, and nine others whose names are unknown. The COMET was owned by Hart & Co., of Cleveland, and valued at $25,000.
Amount of insurance on her, unknown here.
      Toronto Daily Globe
      Saturday, August 28, 1875
      . . . . .
      COLLISION ON LAKE SUPERIOR. -- Detroit, Aug. 27. -- The steamer MANITOBA came in collision with the propeller COMET about White Fish Point, Lake Superior on Thursday night, and sank her almost instantly. Eleven lives were lost, and ten persons saved, including the Captain and First Mate of the COMET. No one was injured on the MANITOBA, and she took the survivors of the COMET to the Sauly.
      Meaford Monitor
      Tuesday, August 31, 1875
      . . . . .
During the night of Thursday, August 26th, the side-wheel steamer MANITOBA, Beatty's line of steamers, between Sarnia and Duluth and bound up for that port, collided with the freight propeller COMET bound down, about two miles east of Whitefish Point, Lake Superior, and about 25 miles northwest from the terminus of the Sault Ste. Marie canal. The cause of the collision is not stated, but the officers of the MANITOBA say it was the fault of the COMET. A large hole was made on her starboard quarter and the water rushed in rapidly. The cargo of the COMET consisted for the most part of pig-iron, of which some 300 tons were taken on at Duluth. She had also on board 10 tons of Montana silver ore, shipped at Duluth together with a quantity of wool. The nature of her cargo rendered all attempts to save her useless and she sank to the bottom in about ten minutes. She had a crew of 25 men on board, of whom 10 are reported lost. The following are the names of those saved: Francis Duget, of Cleveland, captain; John Gore, of Troy, N.Y., first mate; W.H. Weaver, of Cleveland, second mate; J. Rafferty and L. Smith, wheelsmen; John Scott, lookout; Charles Conner, porter; Thomas Murphy and Peter Handlon, deck hands; also one colored man name unknown. Among the drowned are Bogey and Brown, first and second engineers and nine others, names unknown. The MANITOBA picked up the survivors and brought them to Sault Ste. Marie. The COMET was built by Peck & Masters at Cleveland in 1856 and was of 622 tons burthen and was valued, when completed, at $26,000. At present prices her valuation would not exceed $15,000. The loss on her cargo will foot up to at least $25,000. She was built for the New York Central Railroad and for many seasons was in the Buffalo and Chicago trade. In 1868 she collided with another boat at the mouth of the River near Stony Island and was sunk. She was raised immediately and large repairs were made on her at Cleveland. Her present owners, Hanna & Co., had her on the Lake Superior route during the greater portion of last season, but she was laid up in September because of the dull season in company with the ROCKET. This season, although the boats have ample cabin accommodations, they have been devoted almost exclusively to the freight traffic, visiting all Lake Superior ports.
The captain and crew of the ill-fated vessel furnish a few additional particulars of the disaster. They say the MANITOBA was plainly visible to the COMET, which sounded one whistle for her to take the starboard side but received no answer. The collision happened about 8:40 in the evening and the night was perfectly clear. The MANITOBA struck the COMET about sixteen feet from the stem, port side, and ran into her sixteen feet. The COMET sunk in less than three minutes and with the greatest difhcuhy her crew climbed on board the MANITOBA. During the excitement several of the crew of the MANITOBA jumped on board the COMET, but luckily returned to their own boat. She, however, leaked badly and required the constant use of her pony engine to keep her clear of water until she arrived at the Sault, where her freight was shifted aft and the leak repaired. George Smith, fireman, who Lived at Chatham, Ontario, and Michael Burke, deck hand, of Buffalo, were drowned. The names of the others besides those given it was impossible to obtain as all the vessel's books went down with her. In addition to the cargo mentioned the COMET had fifty-three sacks of wool. The number of lives lost was eleven.
      Amherstburg Echo
      September 3, 1875
      . . . . .

The investigation at Sarnia into the collision on Lake Superior between the MANITOBA and the COMET, in which the latter was lost, has closed and the first boat has been exonerated from all blame.
      Amherstburg Echo
      September 24, 1875
      . . . . .

      The collision case of the propeller COMET and steamer MANITOBA, pending in the United States district court many years, has been finally settled by a decision of the United States Supreme court, affirming the decision made by Judge Brown and ratified by Judge Baxter. The collision occurred about 8 o'clock in the evening on the 26th. of August, 1875, about six miles south and east of Whitefish Point, in Lake Superior. The COMET was bound from Grand Island to Cleveland, and the MANITOBA from Sarnia to Duluth. The master of the COMET claimed to have done all he could to avert a collision. He blew the whistle, altered his course, and finally stopped and reversed the engines, but to no purpose, for the MANITOBA struck her on the port bow, cutting her nearly in two, sinking her in less than two minutes and destroying the lives of eleven men. The principal fault charged upon the MANITOBA, was that of starboarding her wheel instead of porting, as she was bound to do as the vessels were meeting end, or nearly end on. The MANITOBA, on the other hand, declared that at the last minute, the COMET swung across her bows. Libels and cross libels were filed and the case tried in 1878, when Judge Brown found both vessels at fault, and decided that the loss should be equally apportioned between them. The loss on the COMET and her cargo, with interest, was fixed at $85,818:16, and the damages to the MANITOBA, with interest, at $7,470. Under the decision the COMET was entitled to recover only $28,694:95, with interest at 6 per cent and costs. An appeal was taken to the United States Supreme court, which now sustains Judges Baxter and Brown.
      The Marine Record
      Thurs. June, 17 1887 p. 4

Media Type
Item Type
Reason: collision
Hull damage: $7,470
Cargo: inc.
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original
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Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 46.76947 Longitude: -84.95258
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Manitoba (Steamboat), collision, 26 Aug 1875