WRECK OF THE NORTHERN QUEEN
While the dead of the Regina were strewn along the shore in their gruesome silence another battle was being wged (sic) by 22 men for their lives. The ten dead sailors of the Regina had made their fight and lost. Their lights had gone out for all time. But some distance from the beach stood the battered Northern Queen tossed about by the heavy waves. On her decks stood 22 men and from the evident condition of the Northern Queen there was not much chance for them unless the storm abated. While some of the villagers of Port Frank assisted in the search for the dead of the Regina, many others were endeavoring to render some assistance to the apparently doomed men on the Northern Queen.
There was not a telephone or telegraph wire out of Prt Frank (sic) except the short rural telephone line to Thedford, six miles distant. Even the Grand Trunk wires were down. There was no help that could be rendered by the men on shore and the sailors on the Northern Queen had to work out their own salvation. It was a terrible situation. In the bow of the Northern Queen were clustered 22 men. Around them tossed the angry waves and as the heavy seas buffeted the setamer (sic) she shook and shivered from stem to stern. It was evident that the men on the seamer (sic) must make the fight for life through the waves.
About noon Tuesday a life boat was lowered from the side of the Northern Queen. By dexterous work the boat was kept from being crushed against the sides of the steamer. It was a critical and an awful moment. One by one ten men leaped into the lifeboat and then began the pull through the waves and the surf. Eager hands were ready to grasp the boat as it came within striking distance of the shore and the ten men were landed safely.
Twelve men still remained on the Northern Queen. At this moment one of those heroic incidents which demonstrate the real stuff that men are made of took place. Two of the rescued men volunteered to take the life boat back to the stranded setamer (sic) so that their companions night be brought ashore. They started out but when some distance from the shore a heavy sea capsized the life boat and they were seen struggling in the heavy surf. Women turned their heads and men snapped their jaws. Finally one of the sailors was seen a little ahead of the other. The second man was in distress. The man in the lead turned back and locking hands with his sinking companion they made their second fight for life. Slowly they neared the shore and men ran into the surf and brought them safely to land.
A second lifeboat was launched from the Northern Queen and nine men came safely to shore in this boat. Captain Crawford, of Buffalo, his first mate, William McDonald, and the second mate, announced to the men in the second boat to leave the ship that they would stand by the steamer and remain on board.
Shortly after eight o'clock last night the captain and his mates decided to come ashore and the sea having moderated they reached land in safety in one of the lifeboats. This completed the rescue of the 22 men, who had stared death in the face since 7 o'clock Sunday night.
Here is the story of how the Northern Queen came to go ashore and the manner in which her men were rescued as told to the Times Herald reporter, by Charles McKay, of Fort William; C. E. Ryan of Buffalo; members of the crew and Gilbert McPhail, chief engineer.
The Northern Queen passed Port Huron on her way out into the lake on Sunday morning at nine o'clock. She proceeded northward for about forty miles when the weather became so fierce that it was impossible for the boat to maintain her headway. The steamer swung around and there was but one thing to do and that was to head her down the lake after she had regained her headway. An awful sea was raging at the time but the Northern Queen made good progress and at 4.30 Monday morning was within a mile or so of the lighthouse.
The members of the crew stated that they could see the lights of Port Huron, and that there was also a steamer ahead of them but they did not know whether she was aground or drifting. (This was the steamer Matthews, which was lying at anchor). Charles McKay stated to the reporter that the fog signals of the lighthouse sounded a warning and that Captain Crawford and the officer decided that danger was ahead and it would be folly to attempt a passage into the river. The Northern Queen was again brought around in the heavy gale and headed for the north a second time. The boat made good progress up the lake for 30 miles when she could go no further. It was decided to drop anchor. At this time the Northern Queen was about eight miles off Port Frank although the sailors did not know it. The anchor began to drag and the steamer gradually drew closer to the shore. The heavy seas caught her and after dragging her anchor for over eight miles she was finally thrown up on the beach bow first. The Northern Queen went on the beach at 7 o'clock Monday night and during the night the members of the crew expected that the boat would go to pieces. Their rescue was finally effected Tuesday afternoon and evening.
Charles McKay, Gilbert McPhail, James Pearson and Charles E. Ryan, members of the crew requested the Times-Herald representative to send telegrams to their relativs (sic) in various cities upon his return to Port Huron. This was done at mid-night and this morning there are several happy homes for the relatives have heard definitely from those they love and for whom they have been worrying ever since Sunday.
It was learned from members of the crew that the Northern Queen is broken aft and is in bad shape. The steamer is out about four feet forward and it is evident that when the water recedes she will have to be dredged off and there is also a possibility of her being a complete loss.
Reprinted from the Port Huron Times-Herald,