True Stories Of Ships And The Men That Sailed Them

Within these links are stories and pictures of ships and the men and women that sailed them, many of them lost at sea or on the Great Lakes.


Burning Of The Erie – 1841

The explosion and burning of the steamship Erie, on Lake Erie, on August 9, 1841 was marked among the worst of the early ship disasters on the Great Lakes. An estimated 170 lives were lost. The Erie was a typical early American steamship. It was considered a fine vessel at 176-feet in length. Launched at Erie, Penn. In 1838, the wooden ship was driven by side-mounted paddle wheels and designed to carry both passengers and freight from Buffalo to Chicago. Consequently, it was carrying an estimated 200 passengers, most of them German and Swiss immigrants traveling via the lakes and heading toward the American west on that final fateful trip from Buffalo, bound for Chicago. Click For More

Drumelzier Hard Aground

Wreck Of The Drumelzier

The remains of the British steamship Drumelzier lie just off Sandy Hook on the New Jersey coast where it wrecked after going on the rocks during a blinding snowstorm on Christmas Day, 1904. The crew of 30 sailors was safely removed by local lifesavers, and an unsuccessful effort was made by local tug boats to pull the ship back into deep water. The 340-foot steel ship and its cargo of various items including 2000 tons of steel billets were lost. Click For Story

Burned At Kingston

Schooner Mary A. Daryaw Burned

The schooner Mary A. Daryaw was moored at Kingston, Ontario, when a fire of unknown origin broke out in the hold. The 61-year-old wooden-hulled vessel spent its final years carrying coal, its seams packed with coal dust, so the local firefighter’s efforts to save the ship were fruitless. A broken oil drum on the deck added to the infernal that gutted the ship. Click For Story

Side Wheel Steamer 1860 Vintage

City of Port Huron 1867

There was a side wheel driven steamship called the City of Port Huron, built at Port Huron, Michigan, by a man named Joseph P. Arnold. Getting images of this vessel or learning anything about J. P. Arnold has been a task that has consumed hours of my time. That I once lived and worked in Port Huron, and overlooked this particular piece of the city’s marine history, is difficult to understand. Click For Story

Costa Concordia

The Infamous Fate Of Costa Concordia

The Costa Concordia became an infamous wreck off the Italian coast of Isola del Giglio after its master foolishly drove it on the rocks on January 13, 2012. Salvagers only this year managed to turn the 952-foot-long monster upright, get it riding on massive sponsons, and pull it away to be cut up for scrap. There were about 4200 passengers and crew on the seven-year-old cruise ship when it wrecked. Thirty-two people perished as the ship turned on its side and sank in shallow water. Click For Story

H. Rand

Tragic Capsizing Of The H. Rand

The 107-foot schooner H. Rand capsized in a gale in Lake Michigan, off Port Washington, Wisconsin, on May 24, 1901, killing the crew of four. Experienced sailors said they had warned the boat’s master, Captain Ralph Jefferson, that his habit of sailing with a short crew was setting the stage for disaster. They said a small crew was unable to handle a three-mast sailing ship like the Rand in a storm. They appear to have been right. Click For Story


Wreck of the Ajace

The Ajace, the 11-year-old three mast barque under the command of Captain F. Morice, was just completing a voyage from Antwerp, Belgium to New York. It was March 4, 1881, and the ship, laden with empty kerosene barrels and iron railing, sailed right into a northeaster' battering the Eastern Seaboard. The crew was blinded first by fog and then the gale. As the men struggled to control the rigging and deal with the storm, they nearly collided with another ship off Fire Island. The ship wrecked on the rocks the following morning, even as the lights of Sandy Hook were in sight. Click For Story

USS Jeannette In The Ice

Steamship Jeannette Lost On Top Of The World

It was promoted in 1879 as an incredible voyage to the North Pole. Crowds stood cheering along the San Francisco Bay as the USS Jeannette, a former British gunboat and three-mast steamship set sail with a crew of adventurers, bound for the Bering Strait and an attempt to be the first ship to ever reach the top of the world. Click For Story

Lost Schooner Thomas Hume

The Mysterious Lake Michigan Triangle

Like the infamous Bermuda Triangle, where aircraft and ships mysteriously disappear without trace, Lake Michigan also has a place where an unusual number of unexplained mysteries have occurred. Some writers have noted these events and are dubbing the area the "Lake Michigan Triangle." Click For More


Almirante Sunk in Collision

The steamship Almirante was carrying a cargo of fruit, mail and seven passengers when it was sunk in a collision with a U.S. Navy tanker off the New Jersey coast during the early morning hours of September 6, 1918. All of the passengers and all but five members of the crew miraculously escaped even though the 378-foot ship sank in just four minutes. Click For Story

Admiral DuPont

Civil War Era Steamer Admiral DuPont

Named for Samuel Francis DuPont, a distinguished Union naval officer whose skills in commanding a fleet of ironclad warships during the American Civil War earned him the rank of rear admiral, the little iron hulled passenger and cargo ship Admiral DuPont not only participated in the war, but became one of its casualties. Click For Story



James L. Donahue is the author of four fine books crammed with Great Lakes shipwreck and shipping history. His books, available through Thunderbay Press, can be purchased on line at Amazon, Borders and other popular book sellers. They include Steaming Through Smoke and Fire, Steamboats In Ice 1872, Terrifying Steamboat Stories and Schooners In Peril.

All written material on this site is copyright protected. Reproduction on other sites is permitted if proper credit is given and the material is not sold or used for financial gain. Reproduction for print media is prohibited unless there is expressed permission from the author, James L. Donahue.

Great And Lost Ships Of The World