John Moore


John Moore

Deadly Crash on the Detroit River


By James Donahue


When the steel freighters John W. Moore and Queen City collided almost bow-on at about 2 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13, 1907, the Moore’s wheelman Duncan McIntyre never had a chance.


Shipmates said McIntyre was asleep in his bunk at the point near the bow where the Queen City sliced through the side of the ship. He may have been killed instantly. If not, he drowned when the Moore sank to her decks because he was obviously trapped by the wreckage. Divers didn’t get his body out until the following day.


Many of McIntyre’s crew mates, also sleeping in the forecastle and in the stern over the engine room, were jarred awake by the crash and had all they could do to scramble to safety while their coal laden ship sank under their feet.


They said the Moore sank in about two minutes. Fortunately, the crash happened on the Detroit River so the ship settled only to her decks in about 25 feet of water. The sailors kept dry by climbing to the wheelhouse in the bow, and roof of the cabin at the stern, and waited for help.


The Moore’s master, Capt. J. L. Bradshaw, and the skipper of the Queen City, Capt. A. C. Smith, refused to talk about the accident. Both men were in their wheel houses and in command of their boats at the time.


The Detroit Free Press, however, uncovered a story from an unidentified source the following day that the up-bound Moore apparently turned unexpectedly from her course and crossed the bow of the down-bound Queen City.


The story suggested that a third steamer, the E. Y. Townsend, might have played a part in the accident. It said the Townsend, a vessel much larger than the 255-foot-long Moore, passed the Moore just before the collision. It was speculated that her wake caused the Moore to swerve into the path of the Queen City.


Ironically, McIntyre’s brother, Alex, was working as an oiler on the Townsend at the time. Both men were from Sombra, Ontario.


The 400-foot Queen City had a barge in tow, identified only as No. 132. Both vessels were carrying iron ore. She did not sink, but her bow was badly crushed and she had to stop at Detroit for temporary repairs before going on to Cleveland to unload and go into dry dock.


The Moore, a 17-year-old vessel, was raised and repaired. She continued operating on the lakes under the names Edward N. Breitung, John F. Morrow, and finally Kipawa until she was scrapped in 1937.


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