The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

October 29, 2012

History shows big October storms


The storm caused extensive losses on all the lakes except Ontario, where sailors had enough advance notice to get to safety. Lake masters reported waves of at least 35 feet and a strange phenomenon of the waves rolling in a direction opposite of the wind above them.

Eight ships and 199 lives were lost on Lake Huron, the deadliest of the lakes during the storm. On Lake Erie, the only casualty was a lightship at Buffalo. Six human lives were lost. All told, 12 ships were lost on the Great Lakes during the Big Blow of 1913.

Nearly three years later, Lake Erie had its turn. Black Friday, as Oct. 20, 1916, became known, claimed the lives of 49 Lake Erie sailors. Vessels lost included a wooden schooner, wooden lumber carrier and the James B. Colgate, which had but one survivor, Capt. Walter J. Grashaw.

The replacement for the Marquette & Bessemer No. 2, a car ferry that ran between Conneaut and Ontario ports, rescued Grashaw after he had spent two days clinging to a raft in the bone-chilling water.

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