Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sevona (Propeller), U136129, aground, 2 Sep 1905
Full Text

Ashland, Wis., Sept. 5. -- More than a score of lives were lost and property valued at half a million dollars was destroyed in a furious storm that swept over lake Superior from Friday night to Sunday night, according to reports received up to last night. Besides the wreco of the steel steamer SEVONA, which broke in two on Sand Island reef, seven of the crew, including the captain, losing their lives, the barge PRETORIA of Bay City, Mich., carrying a crew of 10 men, sank, five sailors drowning.
The schooner OLIVE JEANNETTE with a crew of seven men, is also thought to be lost. The OLIVE JEANNETTE, it is believed, went to the bottom about ten miles from Portage Entry. This schooner was in tow of the steamer L.R. DOTY when the latter vessel was lost with her entire crew on Lake Michigan a few years ago.
Wreckage, consisting of cabin, hatches and ship furniture, has been found 15 miles off Portage Entry, indicating that some ship foundered. Some of the wreckage was marked "OLIVE," indicating that the lost boat was the OLIVE JEANNETTE. A basket marked F. W. Gilchrist also was picked up. There was a steamer of that name on the lake at the time of the storm
      Duluth. Sept. 5. -- The steamer GILCHRIST, the loss of which was feared in the recent storm, reached this port early today.
Erie, Pa., Sept. 5. --James McBrier of West Sixth street, owner of the steamer SEVONA, which went down in Lake Superior, stated that his vessel was a total loss, it having broken in two in the heavy gale. Mr. McBrier, places his loss at $350,000, but he carried heavy insurance.
So far as known last night, all the persons on board the wrecked steamer SEVONA are safe, except eleven members of the crew who remained in the broken ship to allow 17 others to escape in the only two boats available for the rescue. Those who perished are:
      Capt. D.S. McDonald
      First Mate, Darwin
      Second Mate, Nels Salverson, Buffalo
      two wheelsmen and two sailors
The small boat containing five persons reached land safely last night.
      Engineer William Phillips and wife, Buffalo
      Adam Fredon, Buffalo
      J. H. Cluckey and wife, Buffalo
      Neil Neilson, Buffalo
      Otto Smidt. Buffalo
      Nick Fiden, Buffalo
      George Slase, Buffalo
      Miss Lillian Jones, Erie
      Miss Kate Spencer, Erie
      Gretten Rener, Buffalo
      William Long, Sheboygan
      H. Von Vleck, Erie
      Charles Scouller, North East
      Paul Stockel, Cleveland
      Edger Rider, Cleveland
      Searching parties discovered the bodies of Capt. McDonald of the SEVONA and of Nels Salverson, second mate, Buffalo, washed up on the shore at Sand Island Beach. The bodies of five other sailors, who were left on the wreck, had not been found last night
      At the home of Chief Engineer, William Phillips of the wrecked steamer SEVONA, Mrs. Glenn, a sister of Mrs. Phillips, yesterday received a telegram from Mr. Phillips, stating, " We are safe. Do not worry. We will be home as soon as possible."
      Mrs Glenn said that Capt. Phillips and his wife had lived in Buffalo ever since her marriage and they had boarded with Mrs. Glenn. Mr. Phillips had been for several years chief engineer of the SEVONA, and was a warm personal friend of Capt. McDonald. Mrs Glenn stated that Capt. McDonald is survived by his wife and two children.
Miss Kate Spencer of Erie, Pa., speaking of her experience, said: "It was early in the morning when Capt. McDonald told us he was going to run for shelter and that we should put all breakable stuff in a secure place, as when the boat turned it would toss badly. Soon afterward he came to our stateroom door and told us to dress and go aft, as the boat was leaking forward. This we did with the help of sailors at 4 o'clock Friday morning. We were instructed to put on life preservers and had them on when at 5:45 o'clock the boat broke in two.
"The first engineer got us into the yawl boat, but did not launch it and the captain cried through the megaphone to hold out as long as possible. With this we got out of the yawl boat, and congegated in the dining room. which was still Intact. The big boat was pounding badly. A piece of the deck broke away and then a portion of the dining room.
"During this time the men forward could not reach us. At 11 o'clock everything seemed to be broken up and by order of the chief engineer we took to the yawl. We piled into the boat, leaving seven men behind after a heart-rending farewell."
      The SEVONA, a big 10-hatch vessel, was bound from Allouez to Erie with ore. Friday the steamer ran into the teeth of the north-wester, which is still blowing a terrific gale. Capt. McDonald tried to make headway against the heavy sea, but the storm became too heavy and he turned and ran for shelter.
      Sand Island is in the center of a patch of dangerous reefs. A mile and a half east of the light on the island is the Sand Island Reef. The storm was so severe that the lookout did not see the Raspberry Island light. When the Sand Island lighthouse was sighted, it was too late. Capt. McDonald tried to put about but the storm swept his vessel on the reefs with a fury not to be resisted. A great hole was torn in the bow and in half an hour the pounding of the waves had hammered the stout ship in two.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 5, 1905

      . . . . .

SEVONA'S ENGINES AND BOILER WILL BE SAVED. - The wreck of the steamer SEVONA has been carefully examined, and it is found that her stern, including the three after hatches, remains ten feet out of the water. The vessel broke in two just forward of the third hatch from the stern. Both ends are in 23 feet of water, with the midship section in 16 feet. All that portion of the vessel forward of the break lies at an angle of 45 degrees. The windward side of the boat is completely gone, leaving practically nothing but the bottom of the hull. Her boiler is new and was installed at a cost of $13,000. The machinery and dynamo were also in first class shape. While the expense of saving the machinery and boiler will be necessarily large, still there will be a considerable salvage. Before she stranded, the SEVONA was a much stronger boat than when she was first built. At the time of her building, no such material was to be had as was put in her new section.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 8, 1905

      . . . . .

      J. H. Darling, United States assistant engineer at Duluth, has secured data concerning the wrecks of the steamer SEVONA and the barge PRETORIA and has sent a copy of the report to Col. Lydecker of the Lake Survey Office. The report follows: " SEVONA, steel steamship, wrecked Sept. 1, lies on Rocky shoal in from 18 to 24 feet of water, 78 degrees east, or one and five-fifths miles, by north of Sand Island light. The after 185 feet of the vessel is above water, on an even keel. Prominent mark. Stern nine feet high. One mast standing."
"PRETORIA, wooden schooner, foundered Sept. 2, lies on even keel in 52 feet of water. Three masts and rigging above water. Crosstrees 25 or 30 feet high. Heads northeast by east, half east. Position, 7900 feet north, 57.5 degrees east, or one and a half miles northeast by east from Outer Island light. It is 4250 feet, or four-fifths of a mile northeast by east, half-east, from the north-east corner of Outer Island. Least depth found over vessel, aside from spars, 25 feet.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 15, 1905

      . . . . .

Capt. James Reid has taken his wrecking outfit to Sand Island, where he will remove the wreck of the steamer SEVONA. The machinery will be taken from the boat and then the hull will be destroyed.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, June 12, 1908

      . . . . .

Steam screw SEVONA. * U.S. No. 136129. Of 2,362.51 tons gross; 1,899.65 tons net. Built at West Bay City, Mich., in 1890. Home port, Erie, Pa. 300.0 x 41.0 x 21.2
      *Formerly steam screw EMILY P. WEED
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1897

EMILY P. WEED.* Built June 7, 1890 Bulk Propeller -Steel
U. S. No. 136129 2362 gt -1899 nt 300' x 41' X 21'
Lengthened 72' in winter, 1904-05.
* Renamed (b) SEVONA - US - 1905
Stranded on Sand Island Reef, Apostle Islands, Lake Superior, September 2,1905; 7 lives lost.
      Frank Wheeler & Co., West Bay City Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio

Item Type
Reason: aground
Lives: 7
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 46.9791 Longitude: -90.94852
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.


Sevona (Propeller), U136129, aground, 2 Sep 1905