Chapter 37
Table of Contents

Title Page
1 Introductory
2 Geological
3 Poetry of the Lakes
4 Description
5 The Aborigines
6 French Discovery and occupation
7 Story of La Salle and the Griffin
8 Struggle for Possession
9 Under English Rule
10 Beginnings of Lake Commerce
11 War of 1812
12 War of 1812, Continued
13 War of 1812, Concluded
14 Growth of Traffic
Commerce Through St. Mary's Canals
15 Early Navigation on Lake Superior
16 The Convention of 1847
17 A Half Century Ago
18 Lake Canals
19 Lake Canals, Concluded
20 Harbors
21 Lighthouses
22 Life Saving Service
23 Development of Lake Vessels
24 The Lake Carriers
25 The Sailor
26 Navigation
27 Lumber Traffic
28 Grain Traffic
29 Coal Traffic
30 Iron Ore and Iron Industries
31 Miscellaneous
33 CHRONOLOGY.The Beginnings
33 After the War of 1812
34 1821-1830
35 1831-1840
36 1841-1850
37 1851-1860
38 1861-1870
39 1871-1880
40 1881-1890
41 1891-1898
42 List of Lake Vessels
Table of Illustrations


Steamboat Atlantic. Built at Newport, Mich., in 1848. Length 267 feet; 1,155 tons; in her day unsurpassed in elegance and convenience; in 1852 run down off Long Point, by propeller Ogdensburg, and sunk; 150 lives lost. From "American Steam Vessels," Copyright 1895, by Smith & Stanton.
A frightful collision occurred between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning, Friday, August 20, between the steamer Atlantic and the propeller Ogdensburg, about six miles above Long Point, Lake Erie, resulting in an estimated loss of life of from 250 to 350, making it one of the most terrible events of lake history. The steamer ran across the bows of the propeller, and was struck forward of her wheel on the larboard side. The weather was slightly hazy, but the stars were visible, and the wind was almost a dead calm. The liberty cap of the propeller extended over the deck of the steamer, the wood work of the baggage room breaking inward. As the two vessels parted the propeller rounded to and pursued her course, and the Atlantic kept on without losing a stroke of her engine, until her fires were extinguished by the rapidly rising water. Soon after the collision it was attempted to launch one of the small boats of the Atlantic from the starboard side, but the bow was allowed to descend faster than the stern, throwing the weight forward. The bows broke, pitching the men, with which it was crowded, into the lake. Panic prevailed, and many of the passengers and crew jumped overboard without making any preparation. Survivors asserted that there was an entire lack of authority to prevent passengers, especially women, from throwing themselves wildly into the lake. Captain Pettys was injured by a fall into the yawl soon after the collision, and was unable afterwards to render assistance or to take command. The Atlantic continued to float some distance, and when she sank her stern continued to float after the bow had struck bottom, buoyed up by air in the after hold. All who clung to the steamer were saved.

The propeller kept on her course two miles or more, when she rounded to and returned to the steamer. She rescued those who were still upon the wreck, and picked up many who were floating about on wreckage or life-preservers. About 250 were thus rescued by the Ogdensburg and carried into Erie. It was impossible to accurately determine the loss of life. The clerk did not save his trip sheet, but judged there were between 500 and 600 passengers aboard. There were about 150 cabin passengers and some 426 deck passengers, most of whom were emigrants. The early estimates of loss were about 325, but later figures reduced the number to 131.

The Atlantic was built at Newport, Mich., in 1848. She was 267 feet in length, 33 feet beam and measured 1,155 tons. In 1849 she had made the trip from Buffalo to Detroit in 16- hours, the quickest passage up to that time.

Loss of the Steamer Caspian. - Another serious disaster was the loss of the new steamer Caspian, valued at $90,000, wrecked during a sudden storm while lying at a pier outside of Cleveland harbor. The Caspian was owned by Capt. E. B. Ward.

Loss of the Oneida. -- A terrible storm swept over the lakes November 10 and 11, resulting in the complete or partial loss of 55 vessels. The most disastrous wreck was that of the propeller Oneida, which capsized on Lake Erie with the loss of 17 lives.

Other Losses. -- Among the other losses during this storm were the following: Schooners Lady Bagot, total loss at Grand river. Schooner Somerset ashore at Cattaraugus creek, and released. Schooner Abigail ashore near Ashtabula. Schooner Marengo on the rocks at Gravelly Point. Schooner Mobile wrecked near Toronto. Schooner Arkansaw ashore and wrecked near Toronto. Steamer Michigan disabled and towed to Cleveland. Schooner Gold Hunter wrecked at Sleeping Bear. Steamer Diamond damaged to the extent of $1,000 at Dunkirk. Schooner New Haven ashore at the "Cut," C. W. Propeller Bacchus beached at the same place. British schooner Albion ashore at Toronto. Schooner G. T. Williams ashore near the mouth of the Detroit river.

Of the 229 disasters that occurred during the season of 1852, seven occurred in April, 19 in May, 24 in June, 15 in July, 16 in August, 21 in September, 27 in October, 85 in November (55 in the gale of the 11th and 12th), and 15 in December. Five steamers, six propellers and 28 sail vessels went out of existence during the season of 1852. The total valuation of losses for 1852 was $992,659, and 296 lives were lost.

Other Events of 1852. -- March 13: Several Lake Erie ports clear of ice. April 22: Lake Erie again frozen over. May: Five propellors, two steamers and many vessels frozen in near Buffalo: 10, steamer Northerner collided with the brig Caroline in St. Clair river, resulting in serious damage to the latter: 20, schooner Meridian sunk by collision with a wreck near Malden. June: Schooner Vermont capsized on Lake Erie off Conneaut. Forest City explodes her boiler, resulting in the loss of three lives. Schooner Anawan capsized on Lake Erie off Painesville. Propellor Montezuma sustains severe injuries and loses her cargo during a storm. Propeller Republic lost much of her cargo during a storm. July: Severe storm on Lake Michigan: brigs Shakespeare and Lowell damaged. Brig Helfenstein sunk at Chicago. August: Steamer Swan burned at Toledo: loss estimated at $18,000: 20, steamer Atlantic collides with the propellor Ogdensburg near Long Point, by which the former was sunk: many lives lost. October 7: Propeller Independence ashore near Ontonagon during a gale. Propellor Vermont burned while lying at the dock at Grand River, Canada. November: Steamer St. Louis wrecked at Kelly's island: bark Rochester sunk at Erie, a total wreck, seven lives lost: schooner M. Douseman sunk at Dunkirk: schooner R. O. Mead goes to pieces on Lake Erie: bark Myers, of Cleveland, lost during a storm: schooner Eagle total loss at Sandusky: 17, schooner Serena ashore: 15, schooner Twin Brothers, of Milwaukee, and schooner Roberts, of Chicago, ashore at Muskegon: 23, propeller Oregon ashore near Put-in-Bay: steamer Sam Ward disabled on Lake Erie and towed to Detroit by the propeller Buffalo: schooner A. Wilcox wrecked on Lake Michigan, three lives lost: brig Robert Burns wrecked near Grand River: schooner Hamlet and brig Pawhattan ashore: schooner Star wrecked on Georgian Bay, six lives lost. At the close of navigation, and during a heavy gale, the propeller Samson, one of the first built above the Falls, was wrecked at Buffalo with a cargo of flour, involving a loss on hull and cargo of $20,000. Other vessels which passed out of existence during the season of 1852, with the loss on hull and cargo, were as follows: Steamer Belle, wrecked in Georgian Bay, loss $15,000: steamer Telegraph No. 2 burned at the head of Lake Erie, $6,000: propeller City of Oswego sunk by steamer America in Lake Erie, $70,000: propeller Ireland burned in St. Lawrence river: propeller Samson wrecked near Buffalo: propeller Oneida capsized in Lake Erie, 19 lives lost: propeller James Wood, wrecked at Ashtabula, loss $19,000: propeller Vermont, burned at Grand River: barque Rochester wrecked near Erie, seven lives: barque Buckeye State wrecked at Milwaukee, loss $14,000: brig Annie Winslow wrecked on Duck island, Lake Michigan: brig E. H. Scott wrecked on Lake Michigan, loss $14,000: brig Breeze wrecked on Lake Ontario: brig John Hancock wrecked at Rondeau: Marion wrecked at Buffalo, four lives. The following named vessels were all schooners: Schooner Clyde wrecked at Toronto, $4,000: Oregon, foundered in Lake Erie, 10 lives lost, $16,000: Buffalo wrecked on Long Point, six lives lost: Tom Benton wrecked near Chicago: Mariner wrecked near same place: Lavinia wrecked near Kenosha, Lake Michigan: Emily wrecked at Grand River, C. W.: A. H. Newbold wrecked on Buffalo pier: Eagle wrecked near Grand River: Severn wrecked near Grand River: Gold Hunter wrecked on Sleeping Bear island, Lake Michigan: H. B. Bishop wrecked in Georgian Bay. Lowland Lass sunk by steamer Superior, in Lake Erie: Green Bay wrecked at Michigan City: R. C. Smead wrecked at Barcelona, Lake Erie: George Watson sunk by propeller Ohio, in Lake Michigan: A. Wilcox wrecked on Lake Michigan, three lives lost: Brewster wrecked at Fairport, seven lives lost: Star wrecked in Georgian Bay, six lives lost: Elizabeth burned at Oakville, Lake Ontario: Gazette sunk off Cleveland, crew saved.


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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.