Maritime History of the Great Lakes
W. H. Barnum (Propeller), U80342, sunk by ice, 3 Apr 1894
Full Text

The steamer W.H. BARNUM, loaded with grain for Port Huron sank as she was entering the Straits of Mackinac this morning. She was crushed by ice but the crew were saved by the tug CRUSADER. She sank in 11 fathoms of water directly off Freedom at the westerly end of the Straits at 6 o'clock.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, April 3, 1894
      . . . . .

The propeller WILLIAM H. BURNUM, formerly owned by Capt. J.J.H. Brown and others, of Buffalo, and loaded with 55,000 bushels of corn, foundered six miles from Mackinaw, yesterday morning, by collision with ice. The crew were rescued by the tug CRUSADER. The boat and cargo are both insured, but a question will probably arise over the collection of the loss, as it is said the insurance was only placed on the agreement that necessary repairs should be made as soon as she reaches Port Huron to entitle her to an A 2 rating.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      April 4, 1894

      The steamer WILLIAM H. BURNUM - Chicago to Port Huron with grain foundered foundered in the Straits of Mackinaw on Tuesday. She was owned by C.A. Chamberlain and others of Detroit, and rated in last years insurance Inland Lloyds register at $35,000 and was insured for $22,000. The BURNUM was built by J.M. Jones of Detroit in 1873 and was rated A 2. It was the first trip that Capt Smith of Marine City, had made in the boat.
      Marine Record
      April 5, 1894
      . . . . .

      Capt Ryerse, the submarine diver who examined the wreck of the steamer BARNUM, sunk in the Straits of Mackinaw, reports that her cargo of corn has been sold by the Underwriters to the Brantford (Ont.) Starch Works. Arrangements are now being made to take out the cargo, an improved cataract pump having been ordered from
New York. Work will begin in a few days.
      Capt. Ryerse reports the BARNUM as lying in good shape and there is nothing to prevent the boat from being raised.
      Marine Record
      April 12, 1894

      . . . . .
      It is announced that an attempt will be made to raise the WILLIAM H. BARNUM, which sank in 11 fathoms of water in the Straits Of Mackinaw
      Marine Record
      April 19,1894

      . . . . .

      Charles A. Chamberlain and others, of this city, are about to bring suit against the several insurance companies that held the insurance on their steamer W.H. BARNUM, which was cut down by the ice and sank in the Strait of Mackinaw in the spring of 1894. The companies were represented by Smith, Davis & Co. of Buffalo; C.A. McDonald, of Chicago, and a New York agency. The owners claim the steamer was worth $30,000, which would allow them $22,000, and this is the amount they sue for. The companies hold that she was worth not more than $22,000, which would allow her $14,000 insurance. They will contest the claim on the ground that she was unseaworthy, being in need of a rebuild - which might have brought her value up to $30,000, and that she was poorly handled at the time.
      Milwaukee Library Scrapbook
      May 25, 1897

      . . . . .
      Steam screw WILLIAM H. BARNUM. U. S. No. 80342. Of 1,212.51 tons gross; 1,058.68 tons net. Built at Detroit, Mich., in 1873. Home port, Buffalo, N.Y. 218.0 x 34.0 x 21.0 Of 600 nominal horse power.
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1891

Item Type
Reason: sunk by ice
Freight: grain
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 45.73612 Longitude: -84.64116
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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W. H. Barnum (Propeller), U80342, sunk by ice, 3 Apr 1894