Site Description

  • Steam Barge
  • Lake Superior

Chronological History #

  • 1867, Oct 29 Aground at Fighting Island, Detroit River.
  • 1871, Mar 24 Owned Ira H. Owen, Escanaba & Lake Michigan Transportation Co., St. Clair, MI.
  • 1872, Mar 1 Owned Eben R. Ayres et al, Sandusky, OH.
  • 1873, May 26 Owned Charles H. Westcott, Detroit, MI.
  • 1874, Apr 4 Owned J.M. Nicol, Ward’s Central & Pacific Lake Co., Detroit.
  • 1876 Rebuilt; added upper deck & extended cabin, Detroit; 326.78 gross tons.
  • 1876, Jul 9 Burned Lake Superior.

C. Patrick Labadie Ship File #

  • ST. CLAIR (1867, Steambarge) Year of Build: 1867Official Number: 23109
  • Built at:Algonac, MI Vessel Type: Steambarge
  • Hull Materials: Wood Number of Decks: 1 Builder Name: James Bushnell
  • Original Owner and Location: William R. Owen et al, St. Clair
  • Number of Masts: 1 Propulsion: Screw
  • Length: 127.4’ Beam: 25.8’ Depth: 10’ Tonnage (gross):236.48
  • Final Location: Off 14 Mile Point, Eagle River, MI. Lake Superior.
  • Date: 9 Jul 1876
  • How: Burned to waterline & sank.
  • Final Cargo: Passengers, cattle & merchandise.
  • Notes:15 passengers, 9 crew lost of 31 or 32.

Selection of Historical Articles lots more #

Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A. 
      Lytle – Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868  #

Steam screw SAINT CLAIR. U. S. No. 23109. Of 236 tons. Built Algonac, Mich., 1867. First home port, Port Huron, Mich. DISPOSITION. — Lost 1876. 

Port Huron Daily Times 
      Tuesday, July 11, 1876  #

The steam barge St. CLAIR, bound for Houghton, was burned on Lake Superior about 2 o’clock Sunday morning (9th.), 14 miles east of Ontonagon, and 16 passengers and ten of the crew were lost. For several weeks early in the season she was out of commission, lying at Detroit where a new upper deck was built and her cabin extended. 

Cleveland Herald 
      Tuesday, July 11, 1876  #

      Full Details or the Terrible Disaster. 
Houghton, Mich. July 10. — Last Sunday morning about 2 o’clock, the propeller St. CLAIR, Captain Robert Rhyness, belonging to Ward’s line, on her way from Duluth left Ontonagon for this port, having on board eighteen passengers and a crew of fourteen persons. When off Fourteen Mile Point a fire was discovered in the hold of the vessel, and in less than five minutes the boat was enveloped in smoke and flames from one end to the other. Owing to the rapidity with which the flames spread, but one boat was launched. Life preservers were brought on deck, and all succeeded in putting one on, when a rush was made for the yawl, which was swamped six or seven times. The water was very cold, and it was not long before all but one of the passengers, sixteen In number, perished, together with ten of the crew. When the boat caught fire she was about five miles from shore. The following is a list of the saved: Robert Rhyness, captain; Daniel J. Stunger, first engineer; Thomas C. Bothnan, mate; Thomas Fortier, wheelsman; Jno. B. Sutphin, passenger. It is reported that among the passengers lost were a number of residents from Ontonagon and Marquette county. The boat’s cargo was made up of cattle, flour, feed, etc. Tugs and boats are out searching for bodies. No further particulars. 

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