Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Silver Spray (Steamboat), sunk by collision, 13 Aug 1869
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Steamer SILVER SPRAY sunk, and total loss by collision with propeller COMET on Lake Huron.
      Marine Disasters on the Western
      Lakes during 1869, Capt. J.W. Hall

      . . . . .

      Wreck of the Silver Spray.
      We regret to have to announce that the fine steamer 'Silver Spray', owned by Messrs. J.V. Detlor & Son of this town, has been totally wrecked. On Friday afternoon last she left this port for Sarnia carrying some 20 passengers besides the officers and crew, and laden with a small cargo of salt and sundries. About 10 o'clock in the evening as she was just entering the river, she was met by the large propeller 'Comet', bound from Cleveland to Green Bay. Seeing at once that the approaching propeller was off her course, Capt. Rowan sounded the whistle sharply twice and hugged the Canadian shore closely so as to avoid a collision if possible, but it could not be done. Those aboard the propeller steered steadily onward, until the huge vessel struck the ill-fated 'Spray' on the starboard side, in front of the paddlebox and crashing into her boiler and engine works. The practised eye of Capt. Rowan told him that all was
over, and he at once lowered his boats -one of them with some difficulty. The ladies were hurried into the life boat, and a number of others leaped into the yawl. In a minute or two the propeller had backed up, enabling others to leap aboard her. Thus every life was saved although several lost their trunks, &c. The noble conduct of Capt. Rowan, his mate and Mr. S.H. Detlor is described as beyond all praise. They worked hard, did the right thing at the right moment,
and accomplished the notable feat of saving some 40 lives in about eight minutes. They were the last to leave, and, indeed, Mr. Detlor was only grasped by the hand and dragged out of the vortex just as the 'Spray' sank beneath the waves. The whole party were taken aboard the 'Comet' which put back to Port Huron, where the wrecked were most hospitably entertained by the gentlemanly proprietor of the Larned House.
Amongst the passengers were Rev. H. Christopherson and wife, Mrs. Geo. Acheson, Mr. Innes, of the Guelph 'Mercury', Mr. Lang, of the Bruce 'Review', Mr. E. Poole, son of Rev. Mr. Poole of this town, Miss Gordon, Mr. George Stewart, and others of our towns people.
The 'Spray' was insured for $lO,OOO, which was far below her value, and it is feared she is a total loss. The loss to this town will be very serious indeed. We are not, just yet, able to say whether or not another vessel will be placed on the route this summer.
      Goderich Signal
      Friday, Aug. 17, 1869

      On the night of Friday the 13th, a collision occurred in the lake just above the lighthouse, between the prop. COMET, of the Green Bay and Buffalo Line, bound up and the steamer SILVER SPRAY, running between Sarnia and Goderich, bound down. The latter boat was badly injured and sunk soon after the catastrophe, her passengers, numbering about 50, being taken on board the COMET who sustained only trifling injuries. No lives were lost and fortunately no one was hurt. The SPRAY lies buoyed in pretty deep water the top of her spar being about 12 feet under. She is gradually working down towards the river, as the current where she sunk is very strong. If she reaches the deep water at the rapids it is not likely that it will be possible to go by her.
      Port Huron Times
      August 20, 1869 3-4

      . . . . .
Sarnia August 14.- The Steamer SILVER SPRAY, of Goderich, was run into on Friday night by the propeller Comet, bound from Buffalo for Green bay. The COMET had just got out of the river, and when first seen was running, as it were, for the Canada shore, and right in the course of the SPRAY. Captain Rowan of the SPRAY, whistled, and then after a minute or two, seeing that the COMET did not change her course, he whistled again, but the COMET held right on and struck the SPRAY on the starboard side, right in front of the paddlebox. The COMET's speed had been greatly slackened; but if she had not struck the SPRAY's boilers she would have run right through her and sunk her in an instant. There were about 20 passengers, and 18 of a crew, and all got off safely. The SPRAY which was gradually settling in the water, sunk in 15 minutes, a portion of her upper deck remaining out of the water.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, August 20, 1869

      . . . . .

The Detroit Post says that the Coast Wrecking Co. have succeeded in removing the wreck of the stm. SILVER SPRAY from St. Clair Rapids, and it was got into the river on Tuesday. The current in the rapids was too strong to enable the diver to go down and chains being placed under her she was got up rather "informally," drifting into the river bottom side up. Being now in smooth water she is probably righted ere this.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      September 11, 1869 3-3

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      The stm. GRACE DORMER has been purchased by parties at Port Edward, St. Clair River, for $7,750. She will take the place of the SILVER SPRAY run down by the prop. COMET some time since.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      September 16, 1869 3-3

Item Type
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Remarks: Raised
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Emailwalter@maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.caWWW address
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Silver Spray (Steamboat), sunk by collision, 13 Aug 1869