The Huron Cut, located at the northern end of the St. Clair River, between Port Huron and Point Edward, has always been a dangerous stretch of water. It is a narrow channel with a considerable current and vessels must negotiate relatively sharp turns both above and below the cut.
Today, the authorities permit only one-way traffic through the channel and ships wishing to pass through it must wait out in Lake Huron or below the Port Huron traffic buoy until any other vessel in the cut has cleared. This regulation is the result of numerous accidents which have occurred in the area, most notably the sinking of SYLVANIA at the Peerless Cement dock at Port Huron after she was rammed by RENVOYLE in 1967, and the collision of PARKER EVANS and SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. (II) in 1972 which sent the SMITH to the bottom just below the Blue Water Bridge. Prior to the SMITH sinking, two-way traffic in the channel was permitted and it was not uncommon to see boats passing or overtaking right underneath the bridge.
Members might be interested to read the following account of an earlier accident which occurred in the area. We are indebted to Al Sykes who culled the item from the Welland and Port Colborne Evening Tribune of June 3, 1940.
Port Huron, Mich., June 3 (AP) -
Two Great Lakes steamships collided head-on in the St. Clair River a few minutes after midnight today, forcing one of them to put in for repairs.
The ships were the WILLIAM A. REISS, flagship of the Reiss Steamship Company, and the JOHN J. RAMMACHER, owned by the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd. of Toronto.
The two vessels collided beneath the Blue Water International Bridge connecting Port Huron and Sarnia, Ontario. Witnesses reported that the RAMMACHER, 253 feet long, was pushed down ten feet by the impact, but recovered. The REISS, 592 feet long, swung across the river and barely missed going aground.
Plates above the waterline were buckled on both ships, but the REISS continued upbound. The RAMMACHER, which was downbound, put into Sarnia Bay for repairs.
WILLIAM A. REISS is still active in 1978, serving the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company. The JOHN J. RAMMACHER, later renamed WALLACEBURG, last operated in 1965 and was scrapped at Hamilton in 1966.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.