Troubled Times For The Antelope


By James Donahue


From the day it was launched at the old port town of Marine City, Michigan, in 1861, Hull No. 571 was destined to be a variety of types of vessels, but always carrying the name Antelope.


The boat began its years as a 187-foot-long propeller but was swept by a fire while moored at Buffalo in late November, 1867. The burned out hull was towed to Detroit, where it was lengthened to 200 feet and rebuilt. One story said the vessel was converted into a barge, but other records show that it may have been rigged as a barkentine.


The Antelope had a close call when attempting to traverse storm tossed Lake Erie in the late autumn of 1871.


Captain H. Ballentine said his vessel was sailing from Buffalo to Detroit when a gale drove him to shelter behind Long Point. But the northerly winds soon brought an extreme chill and ice began forming on the hull. Ballentine said he worried that the buildup of ice on the ship might sink it, so he set sail and returned to Buffalo. The Antelope arrived safely and moored there for the rest of the winter.


The Antelope’s log shows more troubles after this. It sank on the Saginaw River in 1884 and burned a second time at Saginaw in July, 1885. That old oak hull, which the Wolverton ship building company was famous for, apparently saved the vessel again. In 1888 the Antelope was rebuilt again, and this time was rigged as a three-masted schooner.


There was a close call when the Antelope and three other boats in tow behind the steamer Glasgow got caught in a storm on Lake Erie and the Glasgow wrecked on Point Pelee. That happened on Oct. 6, 1899. The Antelope and the other boats, the A. W. Wright, Taylor, and Wend The Wave, all broke loose, set sail and made it safely to port.


The Antelope was still a schooner when its 30-year-old hull finally failed. It happened during rough weather on Lake Superior, while the Antelope was under tow behind the steamer Hiram W. Sibley.


The coal laden schooner foundered near Michigan Island, of the Apostle Group, on Oct. 7, 1897. The weather got rough and the boat sprung a lead near the end of a voyage from Sandusky, Ohio, to Duluth.


With only 130 miles to go before reaching port, the crew spent the day manning the hand-operated bilge pump, hoping to keep the aging ship afloat until they reached port. But the water gained, the Antelope settled, and after several hours, Captain Allson T. Angres gave the order to abandon ship.


Angres signaled the Sibley and the steamer stopped to take on the crew before the schooner settled 160 feet to the bottom.


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