Steamer B.F. Ferris Burned in Caseville 1891

The Great Lakes Steamer B.F. Ferris was built in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1870 by John E. Monk. She was 124 feet long, 21 feet wide, and seven and a half feet deep. This ship was named for a hardware magnate from Sandusky; Benjamin Franklin Ferris. The wooden rated at 168 gross tons and a net tonnage of 93. George Ellithorpe, Valentine Doller, Jacob Hass, and William Freyensee were the first to receive her. George Ellithorpe was the ship’s first master. The engineer was Jake Haas, and the clerk was William Freyensee.

B.F. Ferris Orginally Worked in Lake Erie

Ferris At Dock

The owners rebuilt the ship in 1879. In 1886, Ohio inspectors’ records show that they required the vessel to be outfitted with three watertight bulkheads before she could pass inspection. Originally the ship was built to run from Sandusky, Ohio to Port Clinton, Ohio, stopping at Marblehead, Lakeside, Catawba Island, and Moore’s Dock. However, the Ferris stopped going to Port Clinton in 1875 after the Sandusky Bay Bridge was built. Instead, she lay nights at Moore’s Dock and later at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

By June of 1890, she was running a route between Saginaw, Michigan, to Winnona Beach. The following year she was plying a route between Tawas and Caseville Harbor in Saginaw Bay.

The End of the Steamer B.F. Ferris at Caseville

Steamer BF Ferris

On July 29, 1891, the Port Huron Daily Times published this short account. “The steamer B.F. Ferris, plying between Tawas and Caseville, burned at her dock in the port of Caseville Saturday night. The crew barely escaped with their lives. The Ferris was owned by Henry Turner of Saginaw and was valued at $8,000, and insured for $5,000.”

The next day, the Marine Review published “Steamer B.F. FERRIS, plying between Tawas and Caseville, burned at the latter place, fire breaking out in the boiler room. She was owned by Turner of Saginaw, valued at $8,000 and insured for $5,000. The crew escaped with their lives but lost their clothes. The FERRIS met with several accidents during her short career, having been sunk at Saginaw two years ago.”

The following January 1892, the Steamer B.F. Ferris was listed as being out of commission along with Oscar Townsend, Oswegatchie, J.S. Ruby, and the tug Mildred. On October 17, 1893, the last entry was surrendered in Port Huron and noted as “burned to a total loss.”


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