1890 Shipwreck Langell Boys Capstan Cover
Brass Capstan Cover from the 1890 Langell Boys.
The 151’steam barge Langell Boys (U.S.141067) was a common
sight in the waters of Georgian Bay. The Langell Boys business was lumber,
hauling rough-hewn logs from the forests surrounding Georgian Bay to
sawmills in Michigan. In early October 1906 the Langell Boys was a busy
boat. Having loaded her own cargo at Byng Inlet, she was on her way to pick
up her two barges prior to making her way across Georgian Bay and Lake
Huron to Bay City Michigan.
The Langell Boys first stop was Midland where she picked up the
schooner barge J.B. Comstock (U.S.76941) The 139’ Comstock had been
built in 1891 at the Abram Smith ship yard for the Smith and Comstock
lumber Co. Leaving Midland, the next stop was Collingwood where the
schooner barge Abram Smith (U.S.106923) had taken on a cargo of lumber.
Like the Comstock, the 147’Smith had been built by its names sake Abram
Smith in Algonac Michigan in 1892.
Having secured her final tow, the Langell Boys set out for Bay City
on the morning of October 7. As the Langell Boys sailed on the weather
conditions deteriorated from over cast to strong winds. By the time the trio
reached the open waters of Lake Huron a full gale was blowing and the
Langell Boys began to lose headway and was blown off course. Aware not
only of his predicament but also his surroundings, the captain of the Langell
Boys made his way into the lee of Great Duck Island where the Langell Boys
and consorts took refuge in the early evening of the 7th.
During the course of the evening the winds began to change, moving
from the west to the north, a direction that once again exposed the three ships
to the full teeth of the gale. The Langell Boys then took her consorts through
the channel between Outer and Great Duck islands, their destination being
the south end of Great Duck where they would be in the lee of the island
from the northerly winds. However once there the three ships now faced the
rolling waves still coming from the southwest, the Langell Boys, the Smith
and the Comstock were trapped.
The waves pounded the trio and the towline between the Langell Boys and the Smith soon parted. Immediately the Abram Smiths anchors
were dropped in an attempt to stop the barge drifting back to the shores of
Outer Duck Island. Likewise, the Comstock did the same thing but it was to
no avail, both were soon hard aground on Outer Duck Island. The crews
made it safely ashore and the following morning when the Langell Boys
returned, it was discovered that nothing could be done for the battered
barges. The survivors were picked up and the Langell Boys continued on her
way to Bay City.
According to the October 22, 1906 edition of the Buffalo Evening
News, the Langell Boys returned to the Duck Islands to salvage what she
from the Smiths and Comstock’s cargos. 600,000 board feet of lumber was
recovered, but that would be all the owners would receive from the wrecks,
neither barge was insured.
Following the accident the Langell Boys would continue to sail for
many more years. Then on June 13, 1931 while sailing from Saginaw to
Spragge, Ontario to load her usual cargo of wood, the Langell Boys caught fire
near Au Sable, Michigan. Little could be done by the crew and they abandoned
ship and were soon rescued by the Coast Guard, not long after which, the
Langell Boys settled to the bottom of the lake joining the Smith and Comstock,
lost 25 years before.
There this compass sat until 1963 when it was recovered by Diver Jim Dougherty from bay City, Mi and held in his personal collection until aquired by our Museum. We also have many other artifacts from this wreck, including the Capstan Cover, Anchor, Windlass, Ships whistle.
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