Commodore Jack Barry (1885)
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By The Numbers
Lives Lost
Depth (ft)
Service History

The wooden tug Commodore Jack Barry was built in 1885 by James Elliott at Saugatuck, Michigan. Her official registry number was 126355. The hull was valued at $5,000 and rated A2 1/2. The Barry was built on the bottom of the tug Constitution (1861). She used the machinery, engine and boilers, from the "Brick Boat" James H. Johnson which had run on the reef in Sister Bay on the Door County Peninsula on May 1, 1895.

The tug Commodore Jack Barry was originally registered in Grand Haven, Michigan in 1887 and owned by the Barry brothers (Miles, John and Thomas), and used as a towing tug assisting lumber schooners and other vessels in and out of the harbor and for towing small log rafts. The vessel was named after Commodore John Barry, an ancestor of the Barry brothers, who was a well known captain in the Continental Navy during the American Revolution.

On August 30, 1887, Muskegon, Michigan: "The tug Jack Barry caught fire near the cabin just before noon to-day on Muskegon Lake, while towing in a vessel. The wheelsman barely had time to spike the wheel and head her seawards before the fire reached the wheel house. She was beached near where the tug Frank Geele was destroyed on Sunday, and burned to the waters edge. The crew was rescued by another tug. The loss is about $4,000; insurance, $2,000." Port Huron Daily Times, September 1, 1887. It is not clear when and where the Barry was rebuilt.

For several years the Commodore Jack Barry was used in Muskegon Harbor (Michigan) as a general towing tug assisting lumber schooners and other vessels in and out of the harbor and for towing small rafts. The Commodore Jack Barry was considered one of the fastest tugs on Lake Michigan, and according to Muskegon sources, won many races.

In 1890, The Barry brothers established the Independent Tug Line in Chicago and moved the Commodore Jack Barry to Chicago. By 1899 the Barry brothers quit the Chicago tug business and sold out to their competitors including the Commodore Jack Barry.
Final Voyage

While off Superior, Wisconsin, in Lake superior, in the harbor, one of the newer tugs on Lake Superior, the Commodore Jack Barry went up in flames (which started forward of the pilot house) on October 30, 1897, with an estimated loss of $5,000. No lives were lost. The final location of the remains is unknown.
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