Lake Pepin Excursion Ended
in Death for 100
Milwaukee Journal (24 April 1929) (by special
correspondent of the Journal) submitted by Diana Heser
Prescott, Wis. --- Capt. David N. Weathern, skipper of
the Sea Wing, died here Tuesday and with him went an oft
repeated story of how his ship went down under him on
Lake Pepin, a widening of the Mississippi, the evening
of July 13, 1898, with a loss of nearly 100 lives. The
captain was 74 and made his living on the river to the
last, but in the last few years he had repeated whenever
the opportunity offered the account of the wreck, the
worst ever recorded in this part of the country.
Barge Was Cut Loose
The Sea Wing had been built by Weathern for lumber
rafting and was a small utility craft, about 100 feet
long. On the day of the disaster he had made an
excursion boat of the Sea Wing and had lashed the barge
Jim Grant alongside. Passengers boarded at Lake Pepin
towns and disembarked at Lake City, where the Minnesota
national guard was encamped.
"The day was fair," Capt. Weathern told, "and we were
going to leave at 6 p.m. It was two hours later before
we got away on account of the folks visiting the
soldiers and the excitement. The boat was above Lake
City when the wind just struck."
The wind that night was of almost tornado strength.
Confusion reigned at once and without authority, Capt.
Weathern always claimed, one of the hands cut the barge
loose. That left the Sea Wing unprotected and it
Regained His License
There were no provisions for life saving and the
excursionists started to swim to shore. Some made it,
including the captain, although his wife and one son
were among the victims. Seventy-two of the drowned were
from Red Wing, Minn. The Jim Grant was a more seaworthy
craft and all who were on the barge were saved.
Capt. Weathern's license was revoked but he was
relicensed three years later. Property on land had been
damaged by the same storm and it was decided that he was
not to blame for the boat going down.
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