George A. Marsh

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Type: Shipwreck (schooner)
Build: Wood
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Nearest municipality: Kingston
Depth: 70-85 feet (21-21.5 meters)
Visibility: 20-40 feet (6-12 metres)
Approximate length: 135 feet (40.5 metres)
Built: 1882
Sunk: 1917
Access: Boat
Level: Advanced

By the end of the 1800's the shipyards had eliminated building sailing ships, due to the faster age of steam. The sailing era was coming to a close. Those schooners still able to ply the Great Lakes were used for the stressful, dirty loads of coal, lumber, and minerals. The cargos placed massive stress upon the ships, and their crews. The vessels became floating deathtraps. The George A. Marsh was one of these vessels.

Built in Muskegon, Michigan, in 1882. She was originally a U.S. registered vessel (registration # 85727 U.S.), later to be sold to Mr. J. Flint of Belleville, on April 17, 1914. He changed her port of registry from "Michigan City" to "Toronto" with the new #133750. The Marsh was now converted for the coal trade.

"Early Wednesday morning, August 8, 1917, the George A. Marsh was caught in a bad storm while crossing Lake Ontario. She had taken on a cargo of coal from Oswego which was purchased for the Rockwood Hospital in Kingston. At around midnight the ship's tired old timbers began to give way and the George A. Marsh began to sink. Altogether there were fourteen people on board. Captain John W. Smith had his wife and five children. The mate, Neil McLennan, had his wife, baby, and young nephew. There were three others in the crew. After five hours of desperate struggle, the "George A. Marsh" was lost. Two of the deckhands were the only survivors."
Rick Jackson 1989

The Marsh now lies in 20 metres of water 2 miles from Pigeon Island. The wreck sits upright with the mooring block on the starboard side. Items of interest are numerous. Please use caution when diving this fragile, yet intact, wreck. When the Dolfins first were able to dive this site 9 years ago the life boat (yawl) was intact, with the oar still fastened to the gunwale. Now the life boat is just a pile of boards in the shape of a boat. Proper buoyancy is a must to reduce deterioration of this site.

Thanks to the Dolfin Divers of Oshawa, for retrieving this article from thier archives.


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