Shipbuilding Active. - The abundant and profitable freight that prevailed during the season of 1871 on the lakes had a tendency to stimulate shipbuilding in 1872, and many large, fine vessels went into commission, and there was general activity in shipping circles early in March.
Phenomenon on Lake Ontario. - A phenomenon of the most unusual kind occurred on Lake Ontario June 13, between 3:30 and 5 o'clock. There was but little wind, and that from the southeast, and the surface of the lake was quite smooth. The water would rise with great rapidity by successive little swells for 15 or 20 minutes, remain stationary for a short time, then fall with the same rapid, silent, imperceptible manner. This occurred five or six times, and then remained stationary at the lowest ebb until a gale in the afternoon came up, after which it found its normal condition.
The shipments of oil to the seaboard by way of the Erie canal, were begun in June in canal boats in tow of tugs. The experiment was closely watched by oil men. While it did not prove the best or most economical means of transfer, a great quantity of oil has passed through the canal since that date.
A convention of steamboat owners Met at Cleveland, Sept. 24, in pursuance to an invitation issued by Cleveland vessel owners, and in conformity with a resolution of the executive committee of the Steamboat Men's National Convention, held at Washington on June 11. Thomas Sherlock, of Cincinnati, chairman of the committee, called the meeting to order and was afterward chosen president; John T. Whiting, of Detroit, and David I. Smith, of New York, vice-presidents; B. S. Osbon, formerly publisher of the Nautical Gazette, New York, corresponding secretary; W. L. James, of Pennsylvania, recording secretary. The convention met for the purpose of taking action to right certain abuses under which steamboat men were laboring, and resolutions were passed condemning the action of the supervising inspectors at their annual meetings in foisting upon steamboatmen certain patents and so-called improvements. Capt. J. T. Whiting produced evidence wherein it was shown that steamers had been arrested for not carrying Ashcroft's register. Mr. Whiting held that the courts were not inclined to impose these burdens on the shipping of the country, and that the Act of February 28, 1871, recommended by the supervising inspectors, should be repealed.
Capt. B. S. Osbon believed that if the executive committee of the convention should go to Washington, make a plain statement of the facts in the matter, they could do much toward having the grievances remedied. These views were adopted by resolutions and a committee appointed.
Foundered in Mid-Lake. - The loss of the schooner George F. Whitney, in September, was a peculiar one. She must have foundered in mid-lake, as not one of the crew of eight men were ever heard of, nor has the manner of her loss ever been known. Captain Carpenter was in command. A strange fatality seems to have hung over the Whitney for more than a year. She had been wrecked on Sugar island, on a trip from Buffalo to Chicago in 1871; was released in the spring of 1872, and reconstructed, and on her first trip she was wrecked again at Vermilion. During the next voyage she was lost with all on board. It was said that while lying at dock at Chicago, Captain Carpenter displayed all his flags at halfmast, the American ensign with union down. Upon inquiry why he did this the captain explained that it was merely an invitation for the tugs to transfer him up the river.
Old Wreck Discovered. - Capt. Paul Pelkey, of the tug Ida Stevens, on the 21st of July, discovered the wreck of the Westmoreland, sunk in the winter of 1855, near Manitou island. Being extremely cold weather, early in December, she had foundered with the accumulation of ice, in 12 fathoms of water. Captain Pelkey was mate on the Westmoreland at the time, and one of the survivors. On reaching shore he took bearings and followed the beach via Mackinaw to civilization. She was a new boat and measured 800 tons.
Other Events of 1872. - April: Schooner William Jones water-logged at Grosse point. Schooner Liberty wrecked at Milwaukee. Schooner Eva M. Cone ashore and total loss near Port Ulao. Bark Graham capsized on Lake Huron. Schooner Speed ran on some piles in Kenosha harbor, stoving a large hole in her bottom, causing her to sink. May: Barge Enterprise sunk by collision at East Saginaw. Tug-steamer Compound exploded her boiler and sunk at Buffalo. Scow Forest Maid damaged by collision with the propeller Granite State. Schooner Star of the North capsized near Point Pelee. Barge Somerset wrecked off Monroe. Propeller Chicago water-logged at Buffalo. Tugboat H. P. Smith totally destroyed by fire on Saginaw river while towing a raft. Propeller Manistee, on her passage from Pentwater to Milwaukee, wind southwest, weather thick, struck and sunk the schooner Samuel Robinson, bound for Buffalo with a cargo of corn. The Robinson was sixteen years old. June: Tug Odd Fellow sunk by collision with the Mystic at Sandusky. Tug J. C. Ransom capsized near Tonawanda. Propeller Maine, bound from Ogdensburg to Chicago, with merchandise, sunk at Goose bay, six miles below Alexandria bay. The schooner Jamaica, Capt. David Bothwell, which sailed from Milwaukee June 15, was caught in a whirlwind or tornado on Lake Huron and immediately capsized. The crew clung to the vessel until a small boat from the schooner Starlight went to their rescue. The Starlight had met the same kind of accident a year or two before at that same place. The Jamaica came out in 1867 and was 318 tons burden. July: Schooner G. J. Whitney, wrecked at Sugar island last season, raised and taken to Detroit. Schooner D. L. Couch sprung a leak within 15 miles of Long Point and sunk. The crew were rescued by the schooner Citizen. August: Scow Snowbird sunk at Detroit. Steamer Ajax burned while at anchor in Saginaw bay. Propeller Riverside damaged by fire in the Detroit river. By the foundering of the schooner Louis Meeker, on Lake Huron, the captain and four of the crew lost their lives. The Meeker was a new vessel, and had a cargo of 22,000 bushels of wheat. Propeller Annie Laurie collides with a bridge at Chicago and sustains serious injuries. Tug Danforth was burned at the dock, Duluth. Brig Ocean sunk on Lake Ontario. Schooner Day Spring was struck by lightning off Ahnapee, and a sailor instantly killed. Schooner Black Duck foundered in deep water; crew saved. Schooner Fearless, Captain Speed, spring a leak off Whitefish Point, waterlogged and capsized. Propeller Bertachy, Captain Vance, took fire at the pier at Depere, August 25, and was partially consumed. The schooner Erie sunk at her anchor off Marblehead during the gale of August 30. She was owned and commanded by Capt. John Andre; crew escaped in the small boat. The Erie was one of the old timers, having been built in 1833 at Buffalo. For many years she served as a revenue cutter, and was afterward taken to Lake Michigan and run in the lumber trade. September: Tug Bemis burned near Alpena. Barges Elliott and Foster lost at Port Burwell. Scow Louisa waterlogged at Kingston. Barge Iron City sunk at Sturgeon Bay; cargo and vessel valued at $36,000. Barge Table Rock lost at Tawas Point. Barge Ontario waterlogged at Tawas bay. Schooner Neshoto, Capt. B. Gray, foundered off Sturgeon Point light, Lake Huron, in eight fathoms of water. Four men and one woman were drowned. The schooner Summit went ashore at Tawas Point; two lives lost. By collision between the propeller City of Fremont, Captain Jones, and the B. R. Lummis, near Northport, Lake Huron, the latter was sunk, the crew all being lost with the exception of one man, who got on board the City of Fremont just as she struck. Propeller Dalhousie, bound from Montreal to Chicago with pig iron and merchandise, was burned, September 26, forty-five miles below Niagara river, in Lake Ontario. The crew were taken off by the propeller City of Concord. The Dalhousie was owned by the Welland Railway Company. Schooner Rapid capsized in Lake Erie during a gale, and seven men were drowned. The Rapid had a cargo of 5,000 railroad ties. The schooner Orion was one of the victims of the storm of September 1, on Lake Erie. She was built in 1853 and was owned by E. Zealand, of Hamilton, Ont. The small tug Ada was burned at her dock on the east side of Grand island. She had been used in light work on the Niagara river; she was rebuilt. The passenger steamer Galena, bound from Alpena to Chicago, ran on to North Point reef, Lake Huron, September 25, and became a total loss. She had a cargo of lumber, which was saved. The following were also lost in September: Tug: Advance. Bark: Butcher Boy. Brig: Montezuma. Schooners: Corsair, Lydia Case, Matthew McNair. Scows: Ned Robinson, Hirondelle, Granville. Barges: John H. Drake, Hunter. October: The tugboat L. H. Boale, while towing a vessel into the piers at South Haven, Lake Michigan, got the tow-line foul of her propeller wheel, which disabled her, and she drifted ashore, becoming a total loss. The passenger steamer Lac la Belle foundered about 20 miles off Racine. She sprung a leak after leaving Milwaukee, and the water gained so rapidly on the pumps that the fires were put out, leaving the steamer at the mercy of the waves. Five boat-loads of passengers and crew left the wreck and all reached shore; eight men went down with the steamer. Schooners Phalarope and Cortland abandoned near Rondeau. Schooner Narragansett abandoned at Hammond bay. Propeller China burned on Lake Ontario and sunk. Propeller Alaska, sunk at Malden, raised. Schooner Bessie Boalt went ashore at St. Joseph, Mich., broke in two and became a total wreck. Barges Baltic and Adriatic, in tow of the tug Moore, parted lines in a gale and both went down with their entire crews off Long Point, Lake Huron. Schooner Mary Nau, Capt. S. Gunderson, foundered in a gale between Detroit and Pilot island. The schooners Libbie Nau and White Squall collided in Saginaw bay and the latter was sunk. The crew of the Squall, finding that all efforts to save her were of no avail, took to the small boat, in which for three hours they strove to reach shore, and on nearing it the boat capsized in the breakers and seven were lost. November: Barge Forest Queen lost on Lake Erie with all hands. Schooner Willis sunk by collision with the bark Elizabeth Jones near Point Pelee. Scow Idaho, sunk in Sandusky bay, raised November 22. Schooner Columbian damaged by collision with the schooner Smith & Post. Scow Forwarder sunk at Black River. Schooner Griswold lost on Lake Superior. Steamer Arctic frozen in at Portage lake. Steamer W. S. Ireland collides with the steam barge Trader at the Flats. Steamer Reynolds burned at Bay City. Propeller Carlington sunk below Bar Point. Schooner J. W. Sargeant abandoned.
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For an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research see the site maintained by Brendon Baillod.