Soo City


Strange Disappearance Of The Soo City

After a successful career on the Great Lakes, the passenger steamer Soo City met its end in a cloak of mystery on the North Atlantic.

Nineteen sailors disappeared with the boat sometime between Nov. 14, 1908, when it left Quebec for a fateful trip down the Atlantic seaboard, and Dec. 4, when wreckage began washing ashore near North Sidney, Nova Scotia.

The Soo City had been a popular excursion liner before its final owners, the Indiana Transportation Co., sold the vessel to a Texas businessman. Plans were to put the Soo City in service along the Texas coast on the Gulf of Mexico.

The steamer left Michigan City, Indiana, on Nov. 1, under the command of Capt. F. V. Dority of Milwaukee. Dority brought the boat to Ogedensburg, N. Y., where he turned the watch over to Capt. John G. Dillon, of Brooklyn, N. Y., on Nov. 11. From there, the Soo City departed for a trip down the St. Lawrence River and then along the Atlantic coast to Velasco, Texas.

The rest of the crew remained aboard for the full trip. They included second mate Angus McIntyre of Chicago, first mate Charles L. Warwick of Michigan City, second engineer N. J. Duncan of Chicago, purser James Anderson of Montague, Mich., oilers Frank Kelly of Alpena, Mich., and George Brown of Chicago; firemen Frank Schwimm of Michigan City and Samuel Olebsky of Chicago; coal passer E. L. Weaver of Dowagic, Mich., and cooks Max Sanders and Charles Warner, both of Chicago.

After taking coal at Quebec, the Soo City steamed down the St. Lawrence River and was never seen again.

The steamer was first thought to have foundered in a violent winter storm that swept the lakes and the North Atlantic on Dec. 1 and 2. Several other boats on the lakes, including the steamer Tampa, were sunk or driven aground in the gale.

When life belts began drifting ashore with the names of both the S. S. Stanley and Soo City, people began to think there had been a collision.

The mystery deepened after the Stanley, a Canadian icebreaker, was found safe in Charlotte Town, Prince Edward Island. Nobody could explain how the vessel's life belts were mixed with those of the Soo City. No bodies were found.

Sailors also wondered why the Soo City was still in the North Atlantic on Dec. 1 because it left Quebec on Nov. 14. The boat was expected to reach its destination in Texas within ten days.

The general theory was that the vessel became disabled and drifted for days before the storm sank it.

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