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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.


The Burning Kingston

In the seventy-three remarkable years that the iron hulled Canadian passenger steamer Kingston remained in service on the Great Lakes; from 1855 to 1928, its worst enemy appeared to be fire. Flames ravaged the ship twice in quick succession, in 1872 and again in 1873. The Kingston was partially burned agaln in 1905. Each time it was rebuilt to run again. Click For Story


Last Fight For The Revenge

Back when the British Navy was the finest naval fleet in the world the Revenge was among the famed ships that helped rule the high seas. The Revenge was a 500-ton galleon built in 1577 by the leading English shipwright Matthew Baker. With its new "race-built" design, the Revenge was considered among the finest galleons in the world. The high poop deck, a feature of the older galleons, was replaced by a lower series of decks stepped down into the waist of the ship. She had a lower forecastle. This made the Revenge a "long lean fighting machine" of its time. But all great warships have a final battle. This is how the Revenge met its end. Story

Lithograph 1857

Wreck Of The Galena

The 193-foot-long wooden propeller slammed into the rocks with a sudden jolt that threw passengers from their bunks and rattled pans in the galley. Broadbridge grabbed the chadburn and sent the order to the engine room to reverse the engines. His first hope was that the ship could break free and that the hull was not severely damaged. But the steamer didn’t budge. The Story

Saint Laurent

Liner Saint Laurent Enters Great Lakes

A 286-foot 14-year-old luxury liner will be entering the Great Lakes this summer under the name Saint Laurent. The vessel’s new owners say the ship has been entirely rebuilt and prepared for an introductory voyage in July from Montreal to Chicago, hitting all of the five Great Lakes. Click For Story

Aung Tagun-3

Burma Ferry Aung Tagun-3 Disaster

The crowded 19-year-old two-deck ferry Aung Tagun-3 capsized in a storm off the coast of Myanmar, formerly the nation of Burma on Friday, March 13, leaving more than 60 passengers dead, authorities said. Because the vessel was packed with over 200 people, many of their names not on the ship’s manifest, the exact death toll may never be known. The ferry left the port of Taunggok with about 129 tons of cargo and its decks crowded with passengers in the evening, bound north for Sittwe. When about 50 miles into the voyage the vessel was struck by heavy rains and rough weather that capsized and then sank it off the town of Myebon, officials said. More Story

Lloyd S. Porter

The Venerable Steam Barge Lloyd S. Porter

When launched at Port Huron, Michigan in 1893, the wooden hulled steam barge Lloyd S. Porter was designed to be a bulk cargo carrier and nothing more. At 159 feet in length, the Porter was one of a fleet of carriers operating on the Great Lakes in those years that carried lumber, iron ore, coal and other bulk cargos. Click For Story

Omar D. Conger

The Miracle of the Conger Explosion

The horror of the blast that wrecked the Port Huron, Michigan ferry Omar D. Conger and killed four crew members on March 26, 1922, caused people at first to overlook the fact that a miracle had happened. The explosion sent pieces of the red-hot boiler flying hundreds of feet through the air in all directions where they left a path of destruction. A second steamship, the Cheboygan, with about two hundred passengers, was only a few hundred feet away and approaching the dock. While people were hurt, the miracle was that only four people died. Read More

Ferry Grace Dormer at Left

Sinking Of The Grace Dormer

A huge lumber pile at the mouth of the Black River was blamed for a collision that sank the ferry steamer Grace Dormer at Port Huron on July 25, 1883. Capt. Ed Thomas, master of the seventy-six-foot long ferry, was criticized for running his vessel blindly out of the Black River and into the busy St. Clair River without blowing the boat’s whistle. But Thomas also was praised for daring action, which probably saved his passengers from drowning. Click For Story

Northern Atlantic After The Fire

Deadly Norman Atlantic Fire At Sea

The Italian car and passenger ferry Norman Atlantic caught fire and burned during a routine voyage in the Adriatic Sea, from Patras, Greece, to Ancona, Italy, during the early morning hours of December 28, 2014. At least 12 passengers out of an estimated 500 passengers and crew members were believed to have perished. Story

Rescue On The Blue Sky M

Refugee Ship Blue Sky M

On December 30, 2014, the Greek Coast Guard was alerted to the possibility that a ship off the Mediterranean Island of Othonoi was carrying "illegal immigrants" after authorities received a strange cell-phone emergency call from an unknown person. Before the Coast Guard could dispatch assistance a person claiming to be the ship’s captain reported that it was a false alarm. He said the ship was in no danger and not requesting assistance. At that time the vessel changed course and steamed toward southern Italy without a crew. That ship was the cargo carrier Blue Sky M. Click For More


Great Lakes Steamers Named Alabama

Lone before the U. S. Navy began naming warships after the State of Alabama, at least two popular steamers sailed the Great Lakes under that same name. Both enjoyed relatively successful careers as passenger and freight carriers. The first Alabama on record was a 234-foot wooden side-wheel steamer launched at Detroit in 1848. The second Alabama was launched for the Goodrich Transit Co. of Chicago in 1909. It was a propeller driven ship with a steel hull. 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