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Ships 3


Package Freighter Montana Burned At Thunder Bay

By James Donahue

The wooden-hulled steam barge Montana sailed the Great Lakes for 42 long years before it caught fire while steaming into Thunder Bay on September 6, 1914, burned to a total loss and sank in 75 feet of water. The crew escaped in the yawl boat.

After years of hauling freight of just about every description, the Montana was showing signs of age and had been stripped down in 1902 for use as a lumber hooker in its last years. She was steaming without cargo into Thunder Bay, obviously bound for a stop at Alpena when the fire broke out just before down. The 14-member crew was picked up by the Alpena, which was steaming nearby and nobody was hurt.

The Life Saving Service saw the burning vessel and rushed to the scene but found nobody to rescue. The old steamer burned until it sank just south of North Point.

The Montana was built in Port Huron in 1872. It measured 236 feet in length.

During its years of service, the Montana experienced only one mishap prior to the fire that sank it. The boat hit the bank and sank near the mouth of the Portage Ship Canal off Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula in 1895.