Telegraph No. 3

The Steamboat Collision on the Ohio Rive

Loss of Life

It is our painful province to record one of the most fearful catastrophes that has occurred upon the Ohio river for some time past, the particulirs of which, as we have learned them, are as follows :

On Monday evening, at a little after 8 o'clock, as the steamer Telegraph No. 3 was coming up under full headway, on the Indiana side of the river, when opposite Sugar Creek, about three miles above Warsaw, Kentucky, she came in collision with the steamer Kentucky Home, commanded by Capt. Reed, bound from Pittsburgh to Louisville, striking the latter with her bow about the forward hatch with such force that the timbers were literally shivered, and in less time than it takes to chronicle the fearful disaster, she sunk a helpless wreck. Fortunately the passengers on the sinking craft were few in number; but the consternation on board was indescribable. The unfortunate vessel sank so rapidly that but little time was given to contemplate the dreadful fate which seemed almost inevitable, and the doomed boat surged heavily down, leaving those who were but a moment before buoyant with life and hope, struggling upon the dark waters. In an incredible short time, however, the boats of the Telegraph were lowered, and in almost a miraculous manner all the passengers were rescued, among them a mother with four of her children, she herself clinging with the desperation of despair to some of the rigging, which had detached itself from the wreck, while her offspring sustained themselves by clasping her neck, arms and clothing, When taken into the boat all were nearly exhausted, and another minute would have sufficed to have loosened their death grasp, and overwhelmed them in eternity. It is certain that but four who were aboard the boat were lost — three deck hands (who were engaged at the time of the collision in sorting freight,) and a fireman. About $1,000 in money, left in the drawer of the clerk's office, was also lost. The Telegraph was rounded to immediately after she got clear of the wreck, and in all probability it is owing to the praiseworthy exertion of her officers that the loss of life was not much more fearful.

Divers rumors are afloat as to the cause of the collision. Both parties, we understand, blame each other. As, however, the melancholy affair will doubtless be investigated, we abstain from mentioning the rumors we have heard. It seems certain, however that the whistle of the Telegraph was blown twice, and that also the whistle of the Kentucky Home was blown, but owing to the wind, it was not heard aboard of the former vessel.
About an hour after the catastrophc a meeting of the passengers of the Telegraph was held on that vessel, at which a vote of thanks was awarded to the officers and crew for their prompt action in saving the lives of those belonging to the sunken boat, and at the same time forty-five dollars in money was subscribed, and a tender of clothes made to those who were left destitute by the disaster.

The Kentucky Home belonged to Messrs. Reed & Mellen, of Pittsburg. She was a new sternwheel boat, one hundred and fifty feet in length, and was built expressly to ply between this port and Louisville during the low water season. She is said to have cost $18,000, and was insured in Louisville for $12,000. Mr. James Mellen, one of the owners, and who usually officiates as chief clerk, is now lying sick at the Spencer House. Capt. Reed about this time last year met with a serious loss by the burning, at the New Richmond landing, of the steamer Forester, of which he was sole owner. The collision took place about three-quarters of a mile below the mouth of Sugar Creek. The Kentucky Home was crossing at the time. We also learn that after the collision a great portion of the cabin and hurricane roof of the sunken boat was precipitated upon the bow and forward deck of the Telegraph, which enabled nearly all the passengers to reach the latter boat by a plank, so that comparatively few persons, and those deck passengers, were immersed in the water, and to this fortunate circumstance may be attributed the small loss of life. At the time of the accident it was pitch dark, the moon not having risen. It is said that the Kentucky Home made the crossing higher up the river than the usual place, and hence the melancholy catastrophe.


Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 1, 1855