Schooner Merrick Sunk - The collision between the steamer R.P. Ranney and the schooner M.F. Merrick, off Presque Isle, May 18, resulted in the sinking of the schooner and the loss of five of the crew of seven. The schooner was struck just aft of the fore rigging, and sunk under the bows of the steamer. The crew on deck took to the rigging, and went down with her about 30 seconds after the collision. Three of the crew were below when the vessel sunk. The captain was saved by a line thrown to him from the Ranney, and William Goodfellow was picked up by the steamer's yawl boat. The Merrick was built in 1877 at Clayton, New York.
The worst disaster on Lake Ontario for many years was that of the foundering of the schooner Bavaria. The steamer D.C. Calvin, of Kingston, with the schooners Norway, Valencia and Bavaria in tow, was struck by a furious gale off Long Point. The tow line parted, and the three schooners were at the mercy of the sea. The Norway and Valencia managed to come to anchor after being waterlogged, and were picked up by the Calvin and Armenia, and towed to Kingston. The crews had been perched on the roofs of the cabins for 24 hours without food, and suffered from the cold of the drenching waves. The Bavaria went ashore on Gallou island, 16 miles from Kingston, and the entire crew of eight perished. The captain of the schooner Cavalier reports that he saw Captain Marshall clinging to the bottom of the upturned yawl and another man on the floating timber, but could render them no assistance on account of the raging gale.
Capsized for the Third Time. - The Canadian schooner Erie Wave capsized between Port Rowan and Clear Creek, Ont., and eight persons were drowned. She was in command of Captain Stafford. The vessel had been ashore for some days, and had an extra crew aboard to assist in releasing her. A sudden squall struck her. Two of the crew reached shore. This was the third time the Erie Wave has capsized. The first time, two of the crew was lost, and, the next, two passengers went down.
A Prosperous Year. - The season of 1889 was fairly prosperous. The demand for tonnage was large and steady, and while freight rates did not rule high, owners made good profits. The total volume of business was in excess of that of 1888. The losses for the season aggregated about $1,000,000. Sixty vessels, averaging 2,000 gross tons, were launched. Within two years more than $12,000,000 worth of new vessels had been placed upon the lakes, and within three years the tonnage of lake vessels had doubled, and their carrying capacity increased in proportion.
During the season of 1889 collisions and gales abounded throughout the entire lake region. The losses to both vessels and cargoes were very great. The total loss on vessel property was 14,086 net tons, and the aggregate amount of total and partial losses reached in round numbers $1,800,000.
Encountered a Waterspout. - The two-masted schooner George C. Finney, with a cargo of wheat from Toledo, encountered a waterspout while off Port Colborne, October 1, and when it left here she was barely afloat. The foremast was gone to the deck, the mainmast was broken off half-way down, and the jibboom was twisted out. Of the sails only the mainsail was saved; it was furled at the time. The crew of the Finney were reported saying they had escaped four waterspouts that day, but the fifth one came up under the stern and tossed her about like an egg shell. The propeller Parnell witnessed the casualty.
Other Events of 1889. - April: Schooner Nellie Hammond sunk near Racine. Propeller Seymour sunk at Otter Creek. Steambarge John Otis scuttled at Sturgeon bay. May: Steambarge Tempest burned at Marine City. Steamer E.S. Pease wrecked near Port Hope. Schooner G.C. Finney sunk at White Rock. Tug Sea Gull sunk in Saginaw bay. June: Steambarge Alice Strong sunk by collision with a scow at Cleveland. Steambarge Anglin sunk in the Rideau canal. Steamers North Star and Chas. J. Sheffield collide near Whitefish point, resulting in the sinking of the latter. Schooner Keeweenaw sunk near the Neebish rapids. Steambarge D.W. Powers collides with schooner America off Chicago. Transfer steamer Armstrong sunk on the St. Lawrence river, near Brockville. July: Schooner Driver sunk at Ludington. Steambarge Joseph P. Farnham burned off South Haven. Schooner Mockingbird wrecked near Middlesex. August: Schooner A. Vickery sunk near Rock island. Steamer Liberty burned on Green bay. Steamer C. Hurlbut burned at West Superior. September: Schooner Annie M. Foster sunk by collision with the yacht Siesta. Steambarge Commerce sunk on Lake Erie. Steambarge Leland scuttled near Pelee island. Steamer Tourist burned at Ashland. Steam- barge Philip D. Armour sunk by collision with the Steambarge Marion. Steamer R.A. Seymour sunk at Port Washington. The Folger burned in St. Clair river. The passenger steamer Rothesay, 22 years old, and 528 tons register, collided with the tug Myra, about a mile above Prescott, on the St. Lawrence river, sinking the tug; two of the crew of the Myra were lost. Steamer A.Y. Gowan burned at Cleveland. The steam yacht Leo, with a party of Lorain business men aboard, exploded some miles off Cleveland harbor resulting in the deaths of eight souls. October: On the steamer Quinte of Deseronto, a fire broke out on the lower deck and spread with great rapidity; the vessel was beached and burned down to the hull; four lives were lost. Schooner George C. Finney damaged by a waterspout on Lake Erie. Ferryboat Lady May burned at Sault Ste. Marie. Steamer Bessemer and schooner Schuylkill wrecked at Portage lake. Tug Col. Davis burned at Port Huron. Schooner Dauntless sunk in Sarnia bay. Schooner Imperial sunk at Georgian Bay. Barge W.C. Bell severely damaged by collision with the Minneapolis at St. Clair Flats. November: Steambarge Massachusetts collided with the steamer Seneca at Chicago. Tug W. Batchelor burned near Red river. Tug Peter Dalton burned at Muskegon. Schooner David Dow wrecked near Chicago. December: Schooner Clara White burned at Grenadier island.
Return to Home Port
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.