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Photo Title : Wells, Burt

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Wells, Burt

Schooner: Wells, Burt

The Wells, Burt was built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company in 1873. She was purchased by the Owen Transportation Company in 1876, and Fred Hart was her master. Her dimensions were: 201 feet, by 33.42 feet, by 14.16 feet. Her gross tonnage was 756.4. However, in 1874 the Wells, Burt was joined by the Michigan, a larger schooner which had been commissioned by John Owen, president of the company, and two years later the Wells, Burt was sold to interests in Milwaukee. Then, in 1883 she was sold again, this time to J. S. Dunham of Chicago.

Unfortunately, Dunham’s ownership of the Wells, Burt did not last for long. Beginning on May 20th of 1883 a fierce gale whipped the lakes into a frenzy, and it lasted for three days. Lakes Michigan and Huron were especially affected by the storm. On Lake Michigan alone, 100 vessels were damaged, and four were totally destroyed. One of those destroyed was the Wells, Burt. Loaded with coal and bound for Chicago, she wrecked off Evanston, and her entire crew perished, including her master, Captain Thomas Fountain.

As seen by the photo above, the Wells, Burt was a beautiful boat, but she was born at the wrong time. Steam had replaced sail as the favorite means of power on the lakes. She had a short lifespan – only ten years – but during those years her tall white sails brought joy to many an on-looker as she cut through the waters of the Great Lakes.

Donated by: Donald H. Gordon

Photo Courtesy of:
The Great Lakes Historical Collection
Bowling Green State University

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