Ships 2

Queen of the Lakes

Ships 3

Queen of the Lakes

Century Old Wreck Queen of the Lakes Discovered

By James Donahue

The 129-foot-long schooner Queen of the Lakes sank with little notice in a Lake Ontario gale in November, 1906. The six-member crew escaped on the ship’s yawl and the coal-laden vessel plunged to a depth of over 200 feet and was seen no more.

Wooden schooners were so common on the lakes near the turn of the century, and so many were lost, that the sinking was all but forgotten soon after the sinking. The vessel was laden with 480 tons of coal, sailing from Rochester, New York to Kingston, Ontario, when it sprang a leak in rough weather off Sodus Point.

When it was obvious that the bilge pumps could not keep up with the water in the hold, the skipper of the boat, a Captain Daryaw, turned the vessel for the point, hoping to ground it before it sank. The vessel was still about 10 miles from shore when the crew was forced to abandon ship. They said the old schooner foundered before the yawl got 50 feet away.

The Queen of the Lakes sank at about midnight. The crew spent a harsh night, fighting high wind and waves in a small boat before they landed ashore.

The wreck was recently discovered by area sports divers Jim Kennard, Dan Scoville and Roland Stevens. They say the ship still sits upright on the lake floor, all three masts intact. Only the bowsprit has broken away. The rigging and sails have disintegrated.

The remainder of the ship remains intact, but everything is covered by zebra mussels. Both anchors and even the wheel are still in place.

The Queen of the Lakes was launched as the Robert Taylor at Portsmouth, Ontario, in 1853. It originally had two masts, but after receiving major damage in a wreck near Brighton, Ontario in 1886, the vessel was rebuilt and given its third mast. The ship was given its final name in about 1864.