Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Buckeye (Propeller), U2150, fire, 13 Jun 1885
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The barge BUCKEYE, coming out of Georgian Bay Saturday afternoon with the schooner SKYLARK, struck a rock on Manitoulin Island, and laboring heavily, burst a barrel of kerosene oil in her hold and caught fire and with her cargo of ties was completely destroyed.
      The barge TILLY took off her crew and took her consort in tow for Chicago. The TILLY coaled here (Cheboygan) and passed up this evening.
      The BUCKEYE was built in Cleveland by Quayle & Martin in 1856 and rebuilt in 1882, measured 352 tons classed A 2 and was owned by Palmer and Fuller of Chicago. Valued at $18,000. She left Chicago a week ago for Manitoulin Island, towing the schooner SKYLARK. When she met the mishap, she was on her return trip with a cargo of cedar. Palmer & Fuller purchased her from E. Eldred & Co. She made her first trip this spring to Ogdensburg with a cargo of corn. This was her second trip this season and Captain Jenks' second trip in her. In the fall of 1883 the BUCKEYE had a narrow escape from foundering off Buffalo. She was caught in a terrific gale of wind with her consort, the YORK STATE. Both weathered and were towed into port.
      The BUCKEYE was insured for $15,000 in three companies.
      Marine Record
      June 18,1885

      . . . . .

The crew of the propeller BUCKEYE had a narrow escape with death last Saturday forenoon when their vessel went ashore and burned up in Georgian Bay. The Buckeye was loaded early in the morning, and she was
immediately started out of the bay under the pilotage of one of the residents of the place. A thick haze hung over the water,and the Buckeye was checked down to four miles per hour, which was her speed when she brought up on a rocky reef about five miles out of the bay. A heavy sea was running, and the steamer pounded so hard that she soon filled with water, and Captain Jenks gave up the task of trying to back her off with her own power. He dispatched a part of the crew in the small boat to the steambarge TILLY, which was loading inside, with the request that she come out and assist the stranded American.
The boat disappeared in the fog, and Captain Jenks set the remainder of the crew at work jettisoning the deckload of ties to get the Buckeye in readiness for the TILLY. The men had not worked many minutes, however, when flames were seen issuing from the engine room, and then all hands were organized into a fire brigade to save the boat from the second danger. The fire spread rapidly, enveloping the cabin and the whole after end of the boat, driving the crew back to the deckload for shelter.
The flames were soon leaping forward along the deckload and the upper works, then up the fore and main rigging, until the topmasts were blazing. The futility of any further effort to check their progress became manifest to the crew, and they began to devise means to save themselves. Their boat was gone, their life-preservers and floats were in the burning cabin, their only resource was to construct rafts of the ties and plunge with them into the water. Ties were collected and hastily tied together with pieces of rope, which were saved from the flames, but before the rafts were completed the fire had closed around them, and the heat became so intense that they were compelled to abandon the rafts and make for the bows. The sea had become furious, and to jump into it meant almost certain death, and the men remained aboard of the vessel to await the return of the TILLY and the small boat. The flames crept towards them very rapidly,and the air became so hot that they were almost ready to take chances in the heavy sea, when the small boat dashed up under the bows, the belated crew lowered themselves into it as quickly as possible, Captain Jenks going last, and. a few minutes later the boat was rowed alongside the TILLY and it's occupants taken aboard. The TILLY got as close alongside of the BUCKEYE as she could in safety in order to make a line fast to her, but the fire had extended everywhere, and as the masts were begining to waver, her master concluded that she had better keep at a respectful distance. The Canadian hovered about in the vicinity of the burning steamboat until the flames had pierced her hull and she sank out of sight. Then she took the schooner SKYLARK and NELSON in tow and brought them to Cheboygan, where Captain Jenks got ashore. He came to Chicago by rail, reaching here yesterday morning. He noted a protest with Captain Wiley M. Egan during the day, reciting the facts of the disaster, and he strenuously denied the story in which it was charged that the fire was caused by a barrel of kerosene bursting near the furnace. The only oil which was aboard of the BUCKEYE was stored in a two gallon can, and it was away in some compartment forward. ---- Inter-Ocean, June I9.
      Marine Record
      July 2, 1885

      . . . . .

      Propeller BUCKEYE, of Chicago, of 352 tons and built 1856, burned at Michael's Bay, Manitoulin Island June 13, 1885 and became a total loss. Cargo, cedar. Value of loss $22,000.
      Total Losses on the Lakes, 1885
      Cleveland leader
      December 7, 1885

Steam screw BUCKEYE. U. S. No. 2150. Of 351.85 tons gross; 236.02 tons net. Built Cleveland, O., 1856. Home port, Chicago, Ill. 136.2 x 26.0 x 11.2.
      Merchant Vesel List, U. S., 1885
      . . . . .

Steam screw BUCKEYE. U.S. No. 2150. Of 378 tons. Built 1856 at Cleveland, Ohio. First home port, Ogdensburg, N.Y. DISPOSITION:-- Lost 1885.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U.S.A.
      The Lytle-Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868

      NOTE. - A shoal, named Buckeye Shoal, lies about 1 mile South of Jenkins Point, Manitoulin Island, is supposed to be the site of the casualty.

Item Type
Reason: fire
Hull damage: $22,000
Freight: cedar
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.590277 Longitude: -82.109166
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Buckeye (Propeller), U2150, fire, 13 Jun 1885