The Burning of the Miami


The fire started in the coal bunkers next to the engine room and deep in the stern of the wooden hulled steamer Miami.


The boat's skipper, Capt. Garey, said fireman Albert Kast discovered the fire at about 1 o'clock on the afternoon of Aug. 6, 1924. At the time the 36-year-old vessel was steaming its way past Lake Huron's Duck Island, on route from Bay City to Sprague, Ontario.


 The crew fought the blaze for about an hour and a half, but smoke and flames eventually drove the sailors out of the engine room. It was obvious that the old boat was doomed. The ship's two lifeboats were launched and the 12 members of the crew abandoned the burning vessel about 48 miles off Thunder Bay Island.


Garey said the lake was calm so the men were in no danger. But a fog settled down on the lake as they watched the 131-foot-long vessel burn. In spite of the fog, the flames were noticed. The fish tug Edna A. arrived on the scene from Cheboygan about two hours after the crew left the steamer.


 Garey, who owned the Miami, said the boat was traveling empty to the Canadian port for a load of lumber.


The Miami, a 131-foot-long "steambarge," burned to a total loss before sinking. It was built in 1888 at Marine City, Michigan.


The other members of the crew were identified as Eli Putnam, Joseph Collett, Walter Chambers, E. Pittman, G. C. Heilbronn, Perry Fray, Kenneth Davis, Calvin Heilbronn, Orville Miller and Charles Heilbronn, all of the Saginaw area.


The Miami was one of only two Great Lakes boats to bear the name of that well known Florida city. The first Miami was a wheat-laden schooner that stranded on Lake Erie's Long Point in a November storm in 1874.


More Ship Stories


Return to The Mind of James Donahue

Great And Lost Ships Of The World