Burning Of The Charles A. Eddy
By James Donahue
Imagine what the crew of the steamer F. A. Meyer thought when it came upon the abandoned and burning ore carrier Charles
A. Eddy in the middle of Lake Huron on August 28, 1906
The Meyer came alongside the burning freighter, turned its fire hoses on the flames and quickly extinguished the fire.
The damage was limited to the forward cabin and deck back to the Number two hatch. The Meyer then took the Eddy in tow while
the chief engineer went aboard the Eddy. By the time the two vessels reached Detroit, the engineer had the ship’s engines
and the siphons operating.
The mystery of the missing crew was not solved until the Meyer reached Detroit. There it was learned that the master
of the Eddy, Captain David B. Elsey, was sick in bed when the fire broke out. At about the time the fire appeared to be getting
out of control, the passenger liner City of Mackinac came alongside. All 21 members of the ship’s crew, Captain Elsey,
his wife and their two children chose to flee the burning vessel rather than stand and fight the fire.
Captain Elsey had his masters license suspended for 30 days after the fire. The suspension was not because he abandoned
his command at sea, but because he was carrying passengers (ie. His wife and children) without having the vessel certified
and properly equipped for passengers.
The Charles A. Eddy was a 281-foot bulk carrier built at Bay City in 1889. The ship was originally part of a fleet
of vessels owned and operated by the Eddy Brothers Transportation Co. of Bay City. The brothers operated a major lumber operation
in the Saginaw Bay area. At the time of the fire the ship was owned by the Gilchrist Steamship Co.
The Eddy may have been repaired and temporarily returned to service. Records show that the vessel was abandoned in