History of the Henry Chisholm

The Henry Chisholm (Official Number 95610) was built in Cleveland, Ohio in 1880 by the Thomas Quayle's Sons shipbuilders for Alva Bradley et al., Cleveland.  It was launched in August 1880.  With a 1,707 horsepower double expansion steam engine the 270 foot Henry Chisholm was build with enough power to tow one or more barges along with its load.  At the time it was the largest wooden "steam barge" ever built in Cleveland.  It was heavily reinforced with steel and iron strapping and approached the practical size limit for a wooden vessel.  The engine cylinder sizes were 30" and 56" supplied with steam by twin boilers.

In its 18 year career the Henry Chisholm set a few short-lived records for hauling the most ore in the season and often towed three barges.  In its list of barges towed are the Thomas Quayle, J. F. Card, S.J. Tilden, City of Cleveland, Ahira Cobb, and Scotia.

 The Chisholm's last voyage started on October 16, 1898 departing from Duluth with 92,000 bushels of barley with the 220-foot schooner John Martin in tow.  The Martin was carrying 1.2 million board feet of lumber.  By the time they reached the Keweenaw they were in the midst of an October southeast gale.  On Monday October 17, as was often done during a storm in those days, the barge Martin was cast off with sails set to fend for itself.  The Chishom headed back up the lake across the wind to weather out the storm.  As the storm subsided Captain P. H. Smith of the Chisholm started the search for its barge stopping only briefly at Ashland, Wisconsin to refuel.  Captain Smith was searching all of the North Shore ports for its whereabouts.  On October 20, 1898 the wooden bulk freighter Henry Chisholm plowed full steam onto the Rock of Ages reef while trying to enter Washington Harbor.   After determining that the hull had been badly punctured, and it would be impossible to release the vessel under its own power, the captain dispatched the first mate and several of the crew to row to Victoria Harbor about 14 miles away to get help.  The captain and the remaining crew rowed to Washington Harbor to await rescue.

A salvage effort was attempted to remove the ship by the Inman wrecking company of Duluth, but the pumps could not make headway against the incoming water and the ship was pounded to pieces by storms later that month.  The boilers were eventually salvaged in 1901, but the engine of course had slid down the reef to deep water.

The remains of the Chisholm and Cumberland now lie intermixed in the ravine on the southwest end of the reef.  The most intact sections are the sides and bottom of the Chisholm.  The Chisholm engine and rudder settled on the side of the shoal in 70 to 150 of water.

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