On Thursday, September 29, 1881, the steam barge Granite State
, towing three log rafts from St. Joe Island, Canada on the Sault River to Chicago, ran aground on a reef off Black River (Straits of Mackinac, Michigan) in a southerly gale. After cutting loose her rafts and jettisoning a portion of her own deck load, the steamer was able to free herself and continue to Chicago. She began to leak badly, however, and on Monday October 3, 1881, she was forced to attempt to run alongside the pier at Clay Banks, but missed and ran onto the rocky bottom in about ten feet of water. The crew and passengers managed to escape without incident.
Although Captain William Russell was optimistic, attempts at raising her were futile. During the following week the tug Kitty Smoke
and the steam tug Leviathan
attempted to pull the stricken vessel off while three steam pumps were employed to dewater the vessel.The Milwaukee Sentinel of October 11, 1881, reported that the vessel was badly hogged amidships and sunk to her decks, and it was feared that a following storm would finish her. Apparently that was just the case, as the Door County Advocate of November 17, 1881, reported that only the dome of the Granite State's
boiler was visible.
No salvage attempts on the machinery were made that fall. The following spring, the owners engaged the schooner Bernie Boalt
to raise the engine and boiler. A special derrick, erected on the deck of the salvage schooner and manipulated by Captain Falcon, a diver, was successfully utilized to raise the boiler by September. A week later the engine was recovered.
A number of problems arouse. A U.S. Marshall was engaged because of a seaman's lien for wages due. The use of the smaller Kitty Smoke
first rather than the larger Leviatham
and her much larger pumps may have saved the day. Also, there were problems with the insurance company not paying since there was coverage for fire only. Years later, in 1885, Captain Russell started a lawsuit against the firm he had contracted to salvage the Granite State
and rebuild her, which was never done.
Originally the Granite State
was built as a steam screw and later converted to a barge. The vessel was built in 1852 by Quayle & Moses Shipyard (later changed to Quayle & Martin) in Cleveland, Ohio and in 1874 it was valued at $16,000 and rated B1. Quayle & Moses lists her as being built as a "cargo ship".
August 1867: The propeller Granite State
was damaged by collision on Lake Erie.
November 1869: The propeller Granite State
bound for Detroit from Ogdenburg, is ashore on Kelley's Island, near Put-In_Bay, and has 7ft. of water in her hold.
November 23, 1869: "A dispatch to D.P. Dobbins and Sons states that the Northern Transportation Co.'s prop. Granite State
which went ashore at Kelly's Island, was towed into Detroit yesterday afternoon." Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
June 2, 1881: The Door County Advocate announced that The steam barge Granite State
was to transport Beckett's Circus Company around the lakes this season.
Last Document Of Enrollment Surrendered: Chicago: 12/30/81:"Vessel Wrecked".
WUAA has written a report entitled "Clay Banks Bottom Lands Survey Project" where they state that "Divers in 1965 encountered parts of a steam vessel in 15 feet of water off Schuyler Creek which were thought to be part of the . This was never investigated further."