Troy Lost In Lake Huron Storm


By James Donahue


In the 10 brief years it plied the Great Lakes, the propeller Troy was a jinxed ship.


Within the first year after it was launched at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1849, the Troy suffered a deadly boiler explosion at Buffalo, New York. At least six people, probably members of the boats crew, died in the blast.


The steamer then collided with and sank the schooner Almeda in September, 1850, within weeks after the damage from the boiler blast was repaired.


Then in September, 1854, the Troy's boiler blew again on Lake Michigan, killing one worker in the engine room.


The Troy's final demise came in October 1859, when it was overwhelmed by an autumn gale and foundered in Lake Huron, about 10 miles north of Pointe aux Barques, Michigan.


The exact date of this event appears to be in conflict. Records are limited, and there are two different dates given, Oct. 18 and Oct. 24. The boat was under the command that day of a Captain Byson, and steaming from Racine, Wisconsin with passengers and wheat bound for Port Colbourn, Ontario when it got caught in a storm.


When the engine room flooded and the boiler fires were extinguished, the crew attempted unsuccessfully to launch lifeboats. That is not an easy thing to do in a pitching 163-foot-long boat without power and caught in the trough of the seas. Only three people of the 26 crew members and passengers on the vessel succeeded in getting away before the steamer slipped to the bottom.


Those three people, who remain unidentified, survived an 11-hour ordeal on the stormy lake until they were blown by the westerly winds to the Canadian shore. They came ashore just south of Goderich, Ontario.


Ruins believed to be that of the Troy were found by sport divers Chris and Pam Roth of Sterling Heights, and Mike Morgan of Port Austin, in May, 1998, with the help of side-scan sonar.


The boat was built in the early years of Great Lakes shipbuilding and was never given an identification number. For this reason, and the fact that no name plate was found, the dive team had a very hard time making an identification of the wreck.


After about 150 dives and hours of research, they said studying the dimensions, hull design, cargo, propulsion system and other clues led to a final conclusion that it was the Troy.


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