• Sidewheeler
  • 150ffw 50m
  • 266ft Length
  • Long Point, Lake Erie
  • 42 30.620 80 05.086

Chronological History


The Atlantic is probably the most historically significant shipwreck on the bottom of Lake Erie. The great luxury sidewheeler was designed to carry up to 800 passengers from the New York Central Railroad terminus at Buffalo to the Michigan Central at Detroit. The Atlantic was a large vessel for her day; 267 feet long, a beam of 33 feet, and a depth of 12 ft. 7 inches. Around 2:00 am on Friday, August 20, 1852, the 275 ft. steamer Ogdensburg rammed into the Atlantic, leaving a large hole below the waterline on her port side. The vessels disengaged and continued on their respective courses. It soon became evident that the Atlantic had suffered serious damage. The captain attempted to run the vessel towards shore, but she began sinking by the bow. The Ogdensburg, some two miles away, could hear the screams of terror and returned to the sinking ship, picking up about 250 survivors. However, over 300 passengers perished.

Selection of News Articles for more www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca #

Buffalo Daily Republic 
      Saturday, August 21, 1852 #

      An inquest was held this morning before the coroner on the bodies of those who had been taken ashore when the following evidence was taken: 
      De Grass McNeil, sworn — I am the First mate of propeller OGDENSBURGH. I commenced my watch at midnight. About half past one saw the steamer. She had a light aloft and two white lights at the center and another signal light in front of the wheelhouse. When I first saw her she was probably three miles distant. We were steering for the Welland Canal, and I judge from her course that we should pass a half mile south of her, upon nearing her, she appeared to have changed her course, and to be making across our bows. I now ordered our engines stopped. It was about ten minutes before the collision seeing that we were likely to strike together. I ordered the engine to back, and the wheel to be put hard a-starboard. I shouted as hard as I could. 
      Our whistle was out of order. In about two minutes we struck the bow of our vessel between the forward gang-way and the wheelhouse on the larboard side. I did not see or hear any person on board the steamer. When we struck we had nearly stopped. The ATLANTIC was under full headway. After ascertaining that our vessel would not sink we went to her relief, although we did not see any signal of distress or hear her bell ring, on nearing we heard the cry of persons on board and in the water. We came up to her in an hour. Her lights had disappeared and her bow under water. her stern was in sight, we came alongside and took off all the persons who had remained on her till now. Our boats were engaged in picking up those who were in the water. We afterward made a circle of a mile in circumference around the wreck, keeping the boats inside the circle and we think we got on board all the living persons in the water and on the steamer. We took probably 200 from the steamer and one hundred from the lake. The ATLANTIC remained in the same position when we left her. 
      Questioned by a Juror. — If you had given the order to the man at the wheel five minutes sooner, would the collision have taken place? 
      Answer — It probably would not. 
      The above is all we received up to the hour of going to press.

Buffalo daily Republic 
      Thursday, August 26, 1852 #

      The injuries to the OGDENSBURGH were repaired so that she left Erie for Ogdensburg on Saturday morning. She was in the Welland Canal on Sunday. 

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