Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sea Gull (Propeller), U26645, fire, 6 Jul 1890
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      Steam Barge Sea Gull Burned to the Water's Edge
      Three Docks and 16,000,000 Feet of Lumber Burnt by Floating Fireship
East Tawas, July 6. - [Special] - Fire was discovered this morning at 1 o'clock on the steam barge, Sea Gull, lying at Bearinger's dock, which had about 5,000,000 feet of pine lumber piled upon it. The flames soon spread to the lumber, which was all burned.
The Sea Gull, after parting her lines, floated to Emery Bros.' dock, where was piled about 7,000,000 feet of lumber, and this, too, was all consumed.
The burning steamer then floated on for half a mile to Locke & Stevens' dock, which was piled with 4,000,000 feet of lumber, and this was also burned.
The steamer kept on drifting and went high out on the beach and burned to the water's edge.
The crew of the Sea Gull got safely off except the woman cook, who was burned to death.
The lumber on Bearinger's dock was owned by Sibley & Bearinger. The lumber on Emery Bros. dock was owned by the Michigan Pipe Company and 3,000,000 to Emery Brothers, which was fully insured. The lumber on Locke & Stevens dock was owned 3,000,000 feet by the Michigan Pipe Company and 1,000,000 by Alger, Smith & Co. The loss on the lumber & dock is about $300,000.
      Detroit Free Press
      July 7, 1890 p.1

NOTE:-- Building the average modern three-bedroom house takes about 15,000 board feet of lumber. The lumber lost in this fire is enough to build 1,067 such homes.
Aside from this dramatic end, the SEAGULL (US#23526) had a dramatic career. She was built as a two-mast schooner in 1864 by John Simpson at Oakville, Ontario for the saltwater trade. During her two-year ocean cruise she was converted to a brigantine and ran the sea route from Toronto and New York to Durban, South Africa. SEAGULL returned to the lakes in 1866 and was sold to Americans in 1869. She stranded and became a near-total loss at Sand Beach (Harbor Beach), Michigan in 1888, after which she was rebuilt and converted to a 230 t. propeller.
      [Dave Swayze's note.]

      . . . . .

      The steam barge SEA GULL was discovered on fire at East Tawas yesterday morning. The cook MAGGIE CORNETT, was burned to death. The lines of the SEA GULL were burned off and she set fire to the steam barge CALVIN, which, however, was saved. Emory's dock and Mills were destroyed, the loss being $30,000; also Lock & Stevens' docks, Sibley & Blearinger's docks and lumber. Sisteen million feet of lumber was consumed. The SEA GULL is a total wreck. The origin of the fire is believed to be incendiary.
      Buffalo Evening News
      July 7, 1890
      . . . . .

The steambarge SEA GULL, owned by Joseph Miller of Marine City, burned at East Tawas on Sunday night. Maggie Cornett, the cook, burned to death. The SEA GULL's lines were burned off and she drifted across the slip, setting fire to the steambarge CALVIN, which however, was saved. She then set fire to Emory's dock and Mills, and these were destroyed, as also were the Lock & Stevens dock and Sibley & Bearinger's docks and lumber. Sixteen million feet of lumber were consumed. The SEA GULL is a total wreck.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Monday, July 7, 1890

      . . . . .

      The burned barge SEA GULL is a total loss. Smith, Davis & Co. have $10,000 insurance on the barge.
      Buffalo Evening News
      July 8, 1890
      . . . . .

      FIRE AT EAST TAWAS. -- On Saturday last the steambarge SEA GULL, caught fire, and after burning off her lines, drifted to the steambarge CALVIN and set her on fire. The CALVIN managed to get up steam and move away. The SEA GULL sank in 10 feet of water.
      Daily British Whig, Kingston
      July 10, 1890

      . . . . .

      Nothing is left of the burned SEA GULL but scrap-iron. Capt. McLeod telegraphs from East Tawas.
      Buffalo Evening News
      July 11, 1890

Item Type
Reason: fire
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 44.27946 Longitude: -83.49025
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Sea Gull (Propeller), U26645, fire, 6 Jul 1890