Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Thomas W. Palmer (Propeller), U145513, sunk by collision, 16 May 1905
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The crew of the steamer THOMAS W. PALMER, ore laden, which was sunk yesterday in a collision with the HARVARD off Stannard Rock in Lake Superior, was brought to the Soo last night by the HARVARD. All the water compartments of the PALMER are full and she is nearly a complete wreck. The PALMER was struck on the port bow and almost cut in two, during a dense fog. The crew, consisting of 19 men, barely had time to get aboard the HARVARD, and did not even save their effects.
      Buffalo Evening News
      May 17, 1905

The steamer THOMAS W. PALMER was in collision with the HARVARD in a fog on Lake Superior yesterday morning and sank in deep water off Stanard Rock.
The THOMAS W. PALMER was a wooden steamer valued at $70,000. She was built in 1889 and was owned by William Livingstone of Detroit.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      May 18, 1905

      Cleveland, May 18. -- The steamer T.W. PALMER, which was sunk on Lake Superior by collision with the HARVARD, was insured for $100,000. She had a partial cargo of coal shipped by the Pittsburg Coal Company.
      Buffalo Evening News
      May 18, 1905
      The steamer THOMAS PALMER, which was sunk in collision with the Steel Trust steamer HARVARD about 40 miles off Copper Harbor in Lake Superior, is on the bottom in about 600 feet of water, and is of course a total loss. She carried $100,000 insurance on hull. There is sure to be a big lawsuit in this case between the owners, by reason of the uncertainty of the cause of the collision.
      Buffalo Evening News
      May 18, 1905

THOMAS W. PALMER Built Feb. 9, 1889 Bulk Propeller - Composite
U. S. No. 145513 2134 gt - 1622 nt 281' x 41' x 20'
Sunk in collision with stmr. HARVARD May 16, 1905, c.30 miles from Manitou Island Light, Lake Superior.
      Detroit/Wyandotte Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio

      When the steamer Thomas W. Palmer pitched forward and sank beneath the waters of Lake Superior Tuesday morning, she went down with every whistle blowing a parting salute.
On the deck of the Harvard, which had nearly cut the Palmer in two in the dense fog, stood the Palmer's captain, George V. Stilthen. His eyes were filled with tears, for the Palmer had been his home for upwards of fifteen seasons, and his hand had pulled the first and last signal cord of the vessel.
      Capt. Stilthen reached Detroit late last night, from the Soo.
      "The Harvard crashed into us on the port side between the second and third hatches, a little forward of amidships," he said. "The blow nearly cut us in two, and I called to the captain of the Harvard to keep her bow in the Palmer's side until my crew could board his boat. This he did. We sprang aboard without stopping to get our effects.
      All Over in Five Minutes
"When the Harvard pulled away, with a rush the water poured into the great hole in the Palmer's side, and she began to settle at the bow. She went down quickly. First the spars went by the board, then her smokestack, and then the cabins and the texas.
"As she settled lower the tremendous rush of water set her whistle going, and as she pitched forward and disappeared she was blowing a final farewell. It was all over in five minutes."
The captain stopped a moment.
      Harvard Badly Damaged
"The Harvard's bow was badly smashed, and she was otherwise injured forward," he continued, "and then the captain signaled the G. Watson French, which had passed a short time before. Thinking that in the condition of the Harvard it would be safer to transfer to the French, we did so. We were not on the Harvard more than an hour. "
Capt. Stilthen speaks in the highest terms of the courtesy and assistance of the captains of the Harvard and the French, and says that every aid was extended the crew of the unfortunate vessel.
The collision occurred a few miles from Stannard Rock, and about forty miles from Copper Harbor. The crew of the Palmer is now coming down on the French.
      Underwriter's Heavy Loss
The Harvard reached the Soo early Wednesday morning, with her forward water compartments full. She was drawing 23 feet, but lightered 300 tons of ore and reduced her draft to 19 feet. At 9 o'clock last night she was locked down at the Soo.
The steamer Palmer, which was owned by William Livingstone, of Detroit, was insured for $100,000. The loss is the first large one for the underwriters in two years. The Palmer was loaded with coal from the Pittsburg Steamship Co., out of Cleveland.
      Detroit Free Press
      Thursday, May 18, 1905

Steam screw THOMAS W. PALMER. U. S. No. 145513. Of 2,134 tons gross; 1,622 tons net. Built Wyandotte, Mich., 1889. Home port, Detroit, Mich. 281.0 x 41.0 x 20.0 Crew of 16. Of 1,000 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1903

Item Type
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Freight: coal &c.
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 47.18047 Longitude: -87.2293
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Thomas W. Palmer (Propeller), U145513, sunk by collision, 16 May 1905