Sept. 18, 1889
IN HARD LUCK
The Wrecking Schooner Gaskin Struck by a Pontoon, and Goes to Bottom
Mr. Leslie, who has undertaken to bring the sunken steamer Armstrong
to the surface, is in hard luck, and today met with another set back
which will not only prove a serious loss, but will still further delay
the operations in connection with raising the wreck.
As our readers are aware two additional pontoons were being sunk, to
give more power in bringing up the wrecked steamer, and today the work
of forcing air into one of these was begun. All was going well, and
prospects looked bright for bringing the Armstrong to the surface, when
suddenly about one o'clock the chain holding one of the pontoons gave
way and it came to the surface with terrific force, striking and wrecking
the schooner Gaskin on the bottom and making a large hole in her.
Those who saw the accident state that when the pontoon struck the schooner
she careened over and it looked as though she would upset. The pontoon,
however, glided from underneath her, and the water pouring into the
hole which had been made in the bottom, the schooner sank almost immediately,
the men who were on her having barely time to jump to the tug McArthur
which lay along side.
The loss will prove a very heavy one to Mr. Leslie as his wrecking apparatus,
pumps, divers outfit, etc., was all on the schooner and went to the
bottom with her. The men who were employed on the schooner also lose
all their belongings, as the schooner sank with such rapidity that they
had no time to make an effort to save anything. From the position in
which the vessel went down it is thought that she in all probability
settled down upon the Armstrong; at all events if not on top she must
be immediately alongside of her.
At the time of writing it is not known whether or not an effort will
be made to raise the Gaskin, but there seems no doubt that an effort
will be made at all events to bring her plant to the surface, as it
is very valuable.
Sept. 19, 1889
THE GASKIN WRECK
One of the few residents who happened to have his eyes in the direction
of the wrecking barge Gaskin yesterday, when she was wrecked by the
rising pontoon, was Mr. Rafael McNabb, who informs us that the sight
was a peculiar one. He was in the vicinity of the C.P.R. pier at the
time and says that all of a sudden there was a commotion in the water
and followed almost immediately by the appearance of the pontoon. It
came up on end, the lower end being fastened by a chain, and with such
force as to shoot the huge mass of steel into the air like a rocket.
It ascended, he thinks, about as high as the crosstrees of the Gaskin
and remained on end about thirty-five or forty minutes before it gradually
filled with water and sank out of sight.
As it came up the Gaskin keeled over so that her masts rested at an
angle of about forty-five degrees. She settled back to her usual position
at once, however, and then sank so fast that the men had barely time
to scramble aboard the tug McArthur. Just before she went out of sight
she pitched forward and went down with the utmost speed, the whole time
of her striking and disappearance not exceeding four minutes.
Opinions vary as to where she will be found, some thinking that she
must have struck the Armstrong while others are positive that she will
be found alongside the steamer and on the upper side. It is generally
considered that if she struck the Armstrong in her downward course the
old boat will not be worth the rising but this of course remains to
It is said that the divers apparatus and wrecking outfit which went
down with the barge, represent an outlay of about $9,000. The remaining
pontoon which broke loose was picked up by the tug McArthur in the vicinity
of the Sister Islands and had been injured to such an extent that a
steam pump had to be put in it to keep it afloat. About five o'clock
the McArthur took it alongside and started for Kingston.
Sept. 20, 1889
The barge Gaskin, sunk here at the wreck of the Armstrong on Wednesday,
was condemned last year and is therefore no serious loss.
Oct. 2, 1889
When the barge Gaskin was sunk recently at the wreck of the Armstrong,
it was feared that in addition to the loss of the boat and much valuable
machinery that even greater loss had been occasioned by her striking
the Armstrong in her descent, in which event a bad mess was inevitable.
The fear, however, has been set at rest by the diver, who, in his first
descent, ascertained that the barge in going down drifted rapidly with
the strong current and now lies thirty or forty feet from the Armstrong
and on the lower side. This will make the work much easier, and is a
cause for congratulation. Nothing further was attempted by the diver,
and nothing practical will likely be undertaken until the glass globes
for the electric light reach here. These have been used in such cases.
Mr. Leslie has gone to Port Dalhousie on business, and the tug McArthur
left last night about four o'clock to relieve the steambarge Nippigon,
which ran on a shoal near Cape Vincent night before last.
Oct. 10, 1889
Though little is heard nowadays concerning the work at the wreck of
the Armstrong, it must not be taken for granted that Mr. Leslie has
allowed the grass to grow under his feet. Since the return of the wrecking
fleet every moment of time has been used to advantage and excellent
progress has been made. All the material which lay on the deck of the
wrecking barge Gaskin when she was struck by the released pontoon, has
been recovered, and this of itself was no small job.
Tools, chains, the pony engine and the air compressor, the latter a
ponderous piece of machinery weighing several tons, have been brought
to the surface, and nothing now remains on the barge except some heavy
chains which are in the hold. It is proposed, we understand, to use
one of pontoons in raising the Gaskin, fastening it to her decks. It
is also thought that the barge will receive considerable buoyancy from
the presence in her hold of several large acid drums, which Mr. Leslie
bought some time ago from the Chemical Company.
At all events the Gaskin will be raised first. A New York gentlemen
is expected here tomorrow who will bring with him the electric light
plant and superintend the work of putting it in position.
Nov. 11, 1889
The hardest kind of hard luck seems to attend Mr. Leslie in his wrecking
operations on the Armstrong and Gaskin and the wonder to many is and
has been that he sticks to the work with such dogged persistency. On
Saturday the fates were again in opposition and the Gaskin after being
brought almost to the surface broke away and went to the bottom. It
is thought that in lowering the pontoon it struck one of the heavy posts
on the upper deck of the Armstrong and was damaged as it took several
hours to do what ought to have been done in an hour had the pontoon
been all right.
As it was, however, the water was finally exhausted and the wreck came
almost to the surface. A tow line was then attached to the tug McArthur,
and is supposed to have slackened to such an extent that the hose coupling
on the pontoon became detached, when the wreck again went to the bottom.
It now lies so close to the Armstrong that it will have to be removed
before work on the former can be started and an attempt is being made
this afternoon to attain this end.
Nov. 23, 1889
A pontoon was successfully placed on deck of the wrecked barge Gaskin
yesterday afternoon, and about ten o'clock today the work of raising
that vessel commenced. At three o'clock the masts appeared above the
surface and it is now hoped the vessel will be successfully floated.
Nov. 25, 1889
The ill luck which has persistently attended the wrecking operations
here seems to still hold its grip and was again made apparent on Saturday
in the attempt to raise the barge Gaskin.
She was brought to the surface all right shortly after
two o'clock and in tow of the tug McArthur was started for shore. It
porved rather hard pulling but the wreck was gradually worked in towards
shore for about two hundred yards when the rear end of the pontoon was
seen to shoot into the air. This left only the forward pontoon fastened
to the wreck and as a natural consequence the latter again went to the
bottom and had to be abandoned.
It is understood the release of the pontoon was caused
by the tearing away of the barge's keelson around which the pontoon
chains were fastened. The pontoon was accordingly unfastened forward
and towed to the upper C.P.R. slip where it was allowed to sink. The
Gaskin now lies in about sixty feet of water with her topmasts sticking
out, and another attempt will be made to get her in towards the shore.
Jan 15, 1890
In the storm of Monday the masts of the sunken schooner Gaskin were
torn out by the ice. They are sill held to the wreck by the rigging.