Dundurn Revisited

Table of Contents

Title Page
The Editor's Notebook
Marine News
The James Photographs
Ship of the Month No. 157 Ralph Budd
Dundurn Revisited
Additional Marine News
Table of Illustrations

Our Ship of the Month No. 156 in the Mid-Summer issue was DUNDURN, (a) F.& P.M. NO. 2 (01), (b) PERE MARQUETTE 2 (06), and as usual it provoked reader comment. In particular, we are most grateful for the assistance of Jack Messmer of Lancaster, N.Y., who shared with us his data concerning the steamer.

Jack has found that both F.&P.M. NO. 1 and NO. 2 were registered at Detroit on September 5, 1882, enrollments 19 and 20 respectively. They then were re-enrolled at Port Huron on September 11, 1882. These enrollments seem to have been temporary, for both ships were later registered at Milwaukee. The original Detroit registry recorded that F.&P.M. NO. 2 was 144.1 x 30.2 x 12.1, and her original Gross Tonnage was 537.42.

He has also found record of some early accidents involving F.&P.M. NO. 2. In February 1887, she lost her rudder shoe in ice off Milwaukee and had to be towed into port and drydocked. Then, on October 17, 1888, she collided with the propellor JOYS in the river at Manistee. The stern of the JOYS was split but F.&P.M. NO. 2 escaped without damage.

On November 21, 1892, F.&P.M. NO. 2 was aground near Long Point on Lake Erie. Why she was down there, we do not know, but we assume she was chartered to some other operator. In any event, the tug WALES was unable to free her and on the 23rd went to Port Colborne for help. She returned with the tug BALIZE and lighter BAY TRADER, which were joined by ALERT and HECTOR, which came from the Detroit River. About half of the steamer's cargo was removed and she was floated free at 6:00 p.m. on November 25. Temporary repairs were done at Detroit and permanent repairs were put in hand on the vessel's return to Milwaukee.

In respect of the loss of DUNDURN off Ashtabula on July 15, 1919, whilst in tow of the tug HOME RULE, Jack reports that "there was a moderate sea running. . . The barge, under the command of Capt. C. LeBoeuf, with a crew of 3, had a cargo of nearly 900 tons of coal aboard. The two vessels cleared Ashtabula and had proceeded eight miles into the lake when DUNDURN sprang a leak. Water gained with such rapidity that it was obvious that the barge would never make port. (Jack's report has the tow bound for Port Colborne, but other sources have indicated that the destination was Port Dover.) Capt. LeBoeuf signalled his situation to HOME RULE and it was decided to return to Ashtabula harbour. The tug and barge were within 1,000 feet of the east pier when DUNDURN sank without warning. The rapidity with which the barge made her final plunge was such that two members of her crew, Leonda LeBoeuf (son of the captain) and Edward Bartront, went down with the vessel.

"The crew of HOME RULE barely had time to cut the towline. Capt. Simpson, master of the tug, ordered her about and proceeded to where the barge had foundered. There they found Capt. LeBoeuf and the stewardess and pulled them aboard. They searched for the missing men but were unable to locate them. As darkness set in, the search was stopped and the men were given up as lost. The following day, HOME RULE returned to the scene of the sinking, along with a boat from the Coast Guard station, to continue to search for the bodies of the lost men, but turned up nothing. The wreck was also visited by a diver, in hopes of finding the men and determining the likelihood of raising the wreck. The diver was unable to locate either missing man, and reported the barge to be in very poor condition. This report, together with DUNDURN's advanced age, prompted C.S.L. to abandon her to the underwriters."

Now, as to DUNDURN's 1912 collision with PORT COLBORNE, our original brief report came from the Dominion Wreck Commissioner's listing of casualties as contained in the Sessional Papers for 1912. Since then, however, we have located a report of the investigation into the collision, which was published in the December 1912 issue of "Canadian Railway and Marine World", and because it is far more detailed, we reproduce it here.

"The investigation into the collision between the s.s. PORT COLBORNE and the s.s. DUNDURN, while going through the draw of St. Dominique Bridge in the Soulanges Canal on Sept. 9> whereby damage was done to a bridge and to the DUNDURN, was held by Commander H. St. G. Lindsay, Dominion Wreck Commissioner, assisted by Captains F. Nash and J. McGrath, as assessors...

"The PORT COLBORNE is a vessel whose size is almost the limit which can navigate the canal. She therefore requires the deepest water, viz., the centre of the canal to navigate in. She was proceeding up the canal and, when within a short distance of the bridge, sighted DUNDURN, which was coming down, and almost at the same time, answered the signal made by DUNDURN of one blast on the whistle, meaning that he was going to pass to port in the usual manner. The PORT COLBORNE was proceeding at about three knots when this signal was made, and expected to pass the draw of the bridge before the other vessel (PORT COLBORNE having the right of way).

"As PORT COLBORNE entered the draw of the bridge, her master noticed that the DUNDURN was steering in an erratic manner and coming with considerable speed. She struck PORT COLBORNE with her bow and the impact of this threw DUNDURN's head towards the bridge, which was open and lying parallel with the south side of the canal, causing her to run into the bridge, damaging both the bridge and herself.

"The evidence of DUNDURN's master and crew showed that when PORT COLBORNE's lights were sighted and the one blast signal was given, the master was unaware of the close proximity of the bridge, owing to the regular bridge lights not being exhibited, and he having allowed his vessel to get too close to the bank, increased her speed so as to enable her to answer her helm quickly. After getting his vessel straightened up and headed for PORT COLBORNE, he noticed that the vessel was sheering slightly toward the south bank, thereby giving him a very small space to pass, and with "the idea of avoiding a collision, he gave the order for full speed ahead, hoping that he would be able to clear the PORT COLBORNE and avoid running into the bank.

"At this time, he first noticed the bridge, but the speed of his vessel was such that he could not then with safety have reversed his engines and stopped his ship, and the two vessels came together. Just before the impact, the captain of DUNDURN reversed his engines and put his helm hard aport, the fact of the engines going astern and the helm hard aport increased the swing to such an extent that his vessel struck the swing span of the bridge, knocking it off its pivot.

"Had PORT COLBORNE, on sighting DUNDURN and answering her one blast signal, made the signal of three blasts which the court is informed is customary in such cases in the canal and to be a request to the other vessel to check her speed, the accident might possibly have been prevented. The court is also of the opinion that if the regular bridge signal lights had been exhibited, DUNDURN would never have attempted to pass the other ship in the draw. The captain of DUNDURN committed an error of judgment in still reversing his engine after the collision with PORT COLBORNE, as that order, when carried out, tended to increase the swing of the ship's head toward the bridge.

"The ordinary lights at St. Dominique Bridge are a red and green light on the bridge itself and a white arc light on a pole at the south approach. On the night in question, these lights were out of repair and in place of them, the bridge tender had placed one ordinary oil lantern, showing a white light, on the east side of the bridge and another similar lantern on the bank at the south approach to the bridge.

"The court therefore finds that DUNDURN was to blame for the accident, and censures her master, and is of the opinion that the lights used on the bridge to replace the regular lights, which were out of order, also contributed to the accident, and suggests that this matter be drawn to the attention of the Department of Railways and Canals.


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