The Oswegatchie Refused to Sink


Some people thought the steamer Oswegatchie put up a gallant fight right up to the end. After the crew abandoned its decks in a storm on Saginaw Bay, the old ship refused to sink.


This happened on Nov. 26, 1891, during one of those terrible autumn gales that used to tear the heart out of Great Lakes vessels.


The Oswegatchie was eventually lost in the storm, but not until she floated for at least another two days off Sturgeon Point. That was because the steamer was a wooden ship filled with a cargo of lumber.


It was believed the lumber kept the wreck buoyed until the deck separated from the hull. After that, the cargo floated free and the weight of the ship's iron engines and boiler took her to the bottom of Lake Huron.


Good luck and good seamanship worked together to save the crew of the Oswegatchie and the three lumber barges in her tow.


The steamer and the barges N. P. Goodell, McBrier and H. C. Potter were on their way to the St. Clair River from Alpena when the storm struck.


The old steamer couldn't stand up to the strain. The hull began leaking and the crew knew she was destined to sink. The barges were cast adrift and the Oswegatchie's crew was preparing to abandon ship when the steamer Elfinmere drew alongside and took everybody aboard.


Two of the barges, the Potter and Goodell, waterlogged in the storm. They also were wooden boats, filled with wood, and could not sink. The Potter drifted ashore at Pointe aux Barques and the Goodell went aground on the Canadian coast.


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