G.P. Heath (1872)
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Final Voyage


While about five miles off of Sheboygan, part of the steamer G.P.Heath's cargo of hay (23 to 30 tons) caught fire from sparks from the vessel's smokestack. The fire, which started on the Heath's forward deck, was impossible to control due to the gale that was blowing at the time. She was beached north of Centerville Point, about 11 miles north of Sheboygan, and burned to the water's edge. Two crew members managed to escape in a small boat while two others were saved by a boat from shore. Two final crew members jumped overboard, but only one managed to survive.
The vessel was a total loss of $6,000 on the vessel and about $600 on the freight with no insurance.
Her machinery was recovered later the same month.
Service History


The steam-barge G.P. Heath was launched in 1872. The boat builder Aurelius McMillian who started the construction died several months before the vessel was finished. Master boat builder George Madison finished the construction and was listed as the builder on the ship's first enrollment. The G.P. Heath was intended to run between Chicago, Holland, Saugatuck, and South Haven and was constructed to fit through the Illinois Canal. The cargo down bound was to be lumber and the return trips would be grain such as wheat and corn. In actuality, the G.P. Heath carried lumber to Chicago, hides from the stockyards to Saugatuck for tanning, and then back to Chicago markets as finished leather. She ran daily during fruit season, beginning with strawberries in early July. When things were slow in Saugatuck, the Heath went north to carry freight from Grand Haven, Muskegon and Whitehall.

1874: Valued at $6,000 and rated B1.

Winter 1878: Rebuilt.

Spring 1879: Went onto the beach, was refloated and the carrying capacity was increased during the repair process.

Wnter 1879-1880: The Heath received a thorough rebuilding including enlarging and adding a new engine.

1884: The Heath made 70 trips carrying an average of 114,000 feet of lumber per trip.

April 1886: Grounded south of Milwaukee and needed the lifesaving crew to shift the cargo of cedar ties and posts to refloat the vessel.

Last Document Of Enrollment Surrendered: Milwaukee: 5/4/1887: "Vessel Burned".
 
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