WRECK OF THE RAVENNA
Pilot Pete Hire was on Jenny Gilchrist
Again was Miraculously saved – details of the terrible disaster-
captain dies at his post
The chief topic among local rivermen yesterday was the terrible
disaster to the rafting steamer Ravenna which was mentioned briefly
in yesterday mornings Republican. The rivermen who met their death
in the storm were well know to Davenport rivermen and were well
liked by the followers of the great stream. The steamer Ravenna
passed Davenport early Thursday morning on the trip north that
resulted so disastrously. She had just delivered a raft to the East
Muscatine Lumber company for whom she was towing, though she is
owned by Bronson & Folsom of Stillwater.
Surveyor of Jennie
of the survivors of the wreck was Pilot Pete Hire, who
happened to be off watch when the squall came and was therefore not
caught in the pilot house like Capt. Hoy. Capt. Hire was at the
wheel of the Jennie Gilchrist when the latter struck the ridge at
Davenport many years ago and went down with a loss of many lives.
He was evidently not born to be drowned, for he escaped from two of
the greatest river disasters of the upper river.
More About Ravenna
special dispatch from Dubuque to the Chicago Tribune tells of the
disaster as follows:
cyclone swept across the Mississippi river about 4 o’clock this
afternoon. At Maquoketa chute, four miles north of here, it struck
the steamer Ravenna and turned it over. Four of the crew were
drowned and the remaining 24 escaped.
Hoy, John, captain, 52 years old, Stillwater.
Trask, Byron, clerk, 42 years old, Reed’s Landing.
Dell Charles, 23 years old, La Cross.
Ravenna is owned by Bronson & Folsom of Stillwater, and was towing
for the East Muscatine Lumber company. It passed this port north
shortly after 3 o’clock and the storm struck it at 4:11, as
indicated by the watch of one of the crew which stopped at that
hour. The cyclone struck the steamer without warning and it keeled
over to starboard.
Captain Dies At Post
crew were thrown into the water, but some of them managed to crawl
up on the bottom of the upturned steamer. Capt. Hoy was at the
wheel when the boat went over, with all the windows in the pilot
house closed, and was caught in a trap.
Trask was in his office and likewise had no chance to save
himself. Capt. Hoy’s son was asleep in a stateroom, and, awakened
by the overturning of the boat, kicked open a skylight and escaped.
men huddled together on the overturned hull and clinging to the
slippery sides for their lives, peered eagerly through the rain for
a boat of some sort to save them.
Wait for a Rescuer
nearly an hour of anxious waiting they sighted the steamer Teal
coming down on its daily trip from Potosi. Coats, hats,
handkerchiefs, and everything available were waved at it, but still
the packet continued on its way. Finally, Capt. Specht of
the Teal sighted the unfortunates and turned his craft toward them.
The course against the shifting wind was a hard one to make, but he
succeeded in coming alongside and making fast long enough for the
perched on the hull of the overturned steamer to climb on the deck
of his boat. In the choppy sea the Teal then proceeded to Eagle
Point, where the rescued men were landed.
men were picked up from the Iowa shore by a gasoline launch and
three others from the Wisconsin shore. These men unable to see the
boat reached land by swimming across the river.
The Col. McKenzie
United States snag steamer, Col. McKenzie, came down
yesterday morning from St. Paul. The McKenzie had done a large
amount of work on this trip and it will have to make another trip
upriver this season. A large number of snags were removed from the
river bed and a number of overhanging trees have been removed from
towboat Zalus Davis, which sunk some time ago near Beef
slough, had been raised and is now safely on the way at Lansing,
where it will be repaired. The exact cause of the sinking of the
boat was not known until the boat was raided. It was found that
both the hog chains had broken allowing the forward part of the boat
to sink and fill with water. The towboat will be repaired as
rapidly as possible and will be again put to work on the upper
Collected and Transcribed by