Ira H. Owen (1887)
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Service History


The steel, steam screw, bulk freighter, Ira H. Owen was built in 1887 by the Globe Iron Works Company in Cleveland, Ohio. The Owen, owned by the National Steamship Company of Chicago was often seen on Lake Superior carrying grain or coal. She was one of the earlier steel steamers and was built with two stacks.

November 1891: Steamer Ira H. Owen ashore just above the Soo.

June 1892: The steamer Ira H. Owen collided with the schooner Belle Brown in a fog sixteen miles off Ludington.

July 1897: The steamer Ira H. Owen collided with the steamer Susquehanna in a fog off Preque Isle Point, Lake Huron. Both vessels were badly damaged.

December 1903: The Ira H. Owen while enroute from Manitowoc to Buffalo with a load of grain started on fire in the boiler room. The ship was towed into Sturgeon Bay while still on fire by the Ann Arbor No. 1, the George Burnham and the Hyacinth.

October 1904: The Owen while loaded with coal collided with the Henry W. Oliver in the St. Marys River.

Last Document Of Enrollment Surrendered: Milwaukee: 12/23/1905:
Final Voyage


"On the morning of November 28, 1905 the Ira H. Owen left Duluth downbound with a load of barley. The weather was worsening as she passed the Apostles, but Captain Hulligan decided against seeking shelter at this point. As she was steaming by outer Island the furious gale picked up and started pounding the Owen mercilessly. Enormous seas swelled, temperatures dropped below zero, hurricane force winds whipped the driven snow -- and the Ira H. Owen found herself in open water with no place of refuge in sight. Desperately the brave crew fought the wild seas as best they could. At the height of the terrible storm Captain Alva Keller of the steamer Harold B. Nye spotted the Owen. She appeared to be in dire straits and was constantly blowing distress signals, but the 380 foot Nye was in so much trouble herself that she couldn't possibly lend assistance. The dense snow squall then descended upon the Owen, completely blocking her from Keller's view. The Nye continued to ride out the monstrous waves for two hours when slowly, the squall lifted and faint visibility was restored. Keller immediately grabbed his binoculars and pointed them in the direction where he last sighted the Owen. Anxiously, tensely, he scanned the water, but saw nothing. The Ira H. Owen had vanished." The "Unholy Apostles" by James M. Keller.

Two days later the captain of the steamer Sir William Siemens, Captain M.K> Chamberlain reported encountering wreckage twelve miles east of Michigan Island. Among the wreckage were life-rings with the name S.S. Ira H. Owen marked on them. The ship and its crew of nineteen were lost in the storm.
 
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