Ann Arbor No. 4 Car Ferry Turtles
Manistique Pioneer Tribune, June 4, 1909 - Transcribed by L. Peterson
Source: Manistique Pioneer Tribune, June 4, 1909
Car Ferry "turtled"
Ann Arbor car ferry No. 4 sinks
in the slip Saturday evening.
Twenty-four cars wrecked
Loss will greatly exceed $100,000
The apron was also damaged.
The Ann Arbor car ferry No. 4, while being loaded at this port Saturday night turned turtle and went to the bottom of the slip, port side downward. It contained 24 cars, loaded with iron ore, in all about 1,200 tons.
The ferry, which is constructed of steel, is 270 feet over all and 52 feet beam, is in command of Capt. Fred Robertson, and Thos. Hardkins is chief engineer. The crew numbered twenty four men and Mrs. Wilson, cabin maid and her daughter, Miss Wilson, waitress.
The accident happened while the ferry was being loaded, the two center tracks being filled with loaded cars, and cars being placed on the port tracks. When the cars left the apron the ferry began to list dragging the remaining cars into the boat, the locomotive being unable to hold them so states Engineer Carmichael of the yard engine. It is believed that had not the cars broken away from the locomotive it would have been dragged from the track.
It is estimated that fully ten minutes elapsed between the time the ferry began listing before it turned over completely. When it had turned partly over the cars on the center tracks toppled over tearing away the stanchions and smokestack and crashing into the cars on the port track sending the boat to the bottom. In turning over one of the boilers was torn from its position.
The hull of the boat is quite badly damaged, especially at the stern the twin propellers, rudder and shoe being broken. The damage to the port side of the boat cannot be ascertained until it is righted.
When the condition of the boat was noted the crew was ordered ashore and all reached the dock without injury. Nothing was taken from the boat, the crew not even securing their wearing apparel other than worn. Those having their quarters on the starboard side of the craft succeeded in taking out their belongings Sunday. The port quarters, occupied by the mates and engineers, are below the water line; thus their belongings cannot be reached. The apron tracks were completely wrecked and much new work will be necessary before it will be placed in commission again.
The men of the ferry were taken to the Hotel Hiawatha.
The accident in question occurred at 9:30 o'clock. One of the contributing causes was the fact that the water ballast used to depress the boat to the level of the apron had not been pumped out. Had the tow line that was out been of better texture, it would have withstood the strain. The air hose had never been coupled between the cars as it is not customary to use air, except on the engine. Engineer Carmichael, as soon as he saw what was transpiring put on all the air he had and reversed the engine. He did all in his power to avert the disaster.
No doubt a number of things have been learned concerning the causes, and it is safe to say that a similar disaster will never occur her again.
The parting of the line was heard uptown, and the tug sounded an alarm in a few minutes scores of people were at the dock and there was a constant stream of the curious all day Sunday.
Theo Montgomery, a resident of the city, who is employed on the boat as waiter, lost all of his clothing, except what was on at the time.
General Superintendent J. H. Fraiser of the Ann Arbor Co. was in the city Tuesday for the purpose of investigating the accident. A. G. McDaniels, general agent of the company, accompanied him. The latter remained here a very short time.
Eighteen of the crew of the Ann Arbor Carferry No. 4, which turned turtle in the slip here Saturday night, left Tuesday morning on the No. 3, for Frankfort. Six of the members remained here and are working on the wreck.