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Sea Wing Disaster

Title: Description of the Disaster
Type: Document
Date: 1890
Source: Minnesota Historical Society

Description: This description of the disaster was written as part of the memorial service bulletin.



ABOUT eight o-clock on the morning of the thirteenth day of July, 1890, the steamer Sea Wing, 110 tons, Captain D.N. Wethern, with a crew of ten men, of diamond Bluff, Wisconsin, left that place, towing a barge, Flat-bottomed boat. and carrying eleven passengers, bound on an excusion to the encampment Camp site. of the First Regiment, M.N.G., at Campe Lakeview, about two miles below Lake City, upon Lake Pepin. At Trenton, twenty-two persons went on board, and at Red Wing, about 165 others, for the same destination

The day was intensely hot, with low barometric pressure. Often means a storm is coming. From about five o'clock P.M., for over two hours, storm indications were visible to the northwest and north, a tornado having in fact, in that time, destroyed several houses and killed five or six of their occupants, near St. Paul. Captain Wethern, although the skies were threatening, believed it safe to venture out, and the boat with all the excursionists and some other, on board, set out from Lake City on the return, a little past eight o'clock.

The storm gathered very rapidly, and the wind was blowing, by signal service measurement, sixty miles an hour.

When near the middle of the lake, and five miles above Lake City, the Sea Wing was suddenly completely capsized Overturned. by the wind. A cry was heard, "Cut the barge loose," and an employe of the boat cut the ropes which bound boat and barge together; they soon drifted apart and were separately driven ashore. The people who were upon the barge all were saved. Life preservers had been pointed out to passengers and many had put them on, before the boat capsized, but some had not done so. Many were imprisoned in the cabin, and some were otherwise so caught, or injured, that they were unable to escape. Planks, Boards, life-preservers, chairs, etc., were floating about, and many saved their lives by securing some of them. The thick clouds made the night so dark that only by the lightning flashes could one see to gain help, or to render any. Many deeds of heroism were done among these people suddenly hurled into the waves. Men able to swim supported others, until they could be drawn upon the wreck, or could pick up some plank for life-preserver, or even swam with them until picked up by rescuing skiffs. Small boats. The efforts of swimmers, and the winds and waves landed them at widely separate points, two boys even getting to shore on the Wisconsin side.