Saturday, February 21, 2015

TERRIFIC GALE ON SENECA LAKE - submitted by Richard F. Palmer

Geneva Gazette
Friday, July 24, 1863

Terrific  Gale on Seneca Lake - A Fleet of Canal Boats Wrecked.
    During Monday night last a furious storm of wind and rain set in from the north-east, increasing to a perfect gale. The steamer P.H. Field started from Watkins with a tow of ten boats, and encountered this gale in its heaviest violence after passing Long Point. Here the lake is about five miles wide, and is subject to a heavy sea. The fleet was pretty well out in the lake to prevent being driven on the west shore. Suddenly the wind chopped around to the north, when the boats got the gale in all its fury, and was so irresistible as to prevent the steamer from making an offing. 

    One of the boats first filled and went down, the others cutting loose from her. One by one the balance parted lines, until all but one became detached from the steamer. With this she made a landing at Dresden, and then cruised around in search of the others and to pick up the crews of such as were wrecked.

    The following summary shows the losses and condition of boats ad cargoes:
    Monitor, Capt. Belden, loaded with lumber - filled, but has since been raised. 
   Free Kansas, Murray, cargo of coal - safe, has since gone on.
   Gold Eagle, Beardsley, cargo of coal - boat and cargo lost.
   Gem, Walker, coal - cargo lost, boat saved.
   M.C. Bennett, F. Curry, coal - cargo lost, boat saved.
   Turkey, J. Lamoureux, driven ashore two miles north of Dresden.
   Senator, Barren, load of lumber - filled, but was got to Geneva
   Bogardus, Simpson, load of coal - boat and cargo lost.
   C.W. Ryant, Boyer, load of coal - boat and cargo lost.
   Boody, Murray - on shore at Dresden.

   The crews were all saved. An infant, 5 months old, however, perished on a raft made of horse bridges and hatches, on which a father, mother and two children had taken refuge. They were subsequently picked up by Capt. O’Daniels of the Field; the child died from the effects of exposure to the storm. The parents had a third child on a boat. The steersman made a like raft on which he with this lad floated and shoved ashore.

    We are indebted to Capt. Wheeler, agent of the steamboat company, for the above facts. 

    The statement published in the Courier was founded on flying rumors prevalent in the streets on Tuesday, which made the disaster, particularly in the loss of life, more of life, more extensive and fearful than it really is.