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Packet Princess in collision with Towboat Beaver

From the Wheeling Intelligencer, Feb. 5, 1887:



By Being Run Into by the Beaver, of the Towboat Fleet, at the LaBelle Mill Landing -- The Particulars of the Affair. Bellaire Packet to be Laid Up.

Shortly after two o'clock yesterday afternoon the towboat Beaver on her way up the river with a tow of empty coal barges ran into the Bellaire packet Princess as she was landing at the LaBelle landing and damaged the steamer so seriously that she was forced to tie up at that point and the probabilities are, that it will be two or three weeks before she will be able to resume her place in the trade between here and Bellaire; it will take that much time to make the necessary repairs.

The collision appears to have been the fault of those in charge of the Beaver, but that is a question that Local Inspectors Ritz and Thomas will in all likelihood be called upon to determine. The Princess was hit a very hard blow, and the large number of passengers she had on board, including several women, were greatly excited and alarmed for a time, but fortunately no one was hurt.

The Princess left the levee at 2 o'clock on her regular trip to Bellaire. As is usually the case on pleasant Sundays she was doing a big business yesterday, and had on this particular trip about forty people on board. Capt. J. B. Campbell was in command and Fred Kline, the boat's regular pilot, was at the wheel. There was a hail from some people at the La Belle landing, and the boat was headed for that point. The steamer Beaver was coming up the river at full speed, and when the Princess whistled for the West Virginia side the Beaver answered, signifying that the packet could take that side. The people in charge of the Beaver must have seen at the same time that the Princess proposed making a landing.

The Princess, as usual, in making a short landing, ran her head into the bank and the swinging stage was lowered for the passengers. At the same time the stern of the boat was swung around by the current so that the steamer was almost at right angles with the shore. The Beaver, after answering the Princess' signal, is said not to have changed her course to any appreciable extent, but kept plowing right ahead in the centre of the channel. As the stern of the Princess swung around, it was seen by those on board that there would either be a collision, or a very narrow escape from one, unless the towboat stopped and backed so as to allow the Princess to get out of the pocket she was in.

But the Beaver, according to the story of the officers of the Princess and number of those who were on board her, was not stopped or slowed up, but coming on, drove her tow into the stern and wheel of the Princess. The shock was a tremendous one as the little steamer was hit by the heavy moving mass, and she trembled from stern to stem. The passengers were very much alarmed; the men shouted and the women screamed, and there was a general rush for the front end of the boat, which was nearest the shore. A line was quickly ordered out by Captain Campbell, and the boat was warped into the bank and made fast.

An examination showed that the steamer had been badly injured. Both of her cylinder timbers, on both sides, were so broken or cracked that it will be necessary to put in new ones, and this will necessitate taking out the heaviest part of the machinery. The wheel was damaged some and several small parts about the machinery were broken. Not only was all this damage done but the boat was strained in every part. The Beaver passed up the river. William Gordon, of Allegheny, is reported to have been at her wheel, and Capt. McDonald is said to have been the pilot house with him at the time of the collision.

The Princess has for a long time enjoyed one of the best paying trades on the Upper Ohio, and being thus knocked out will mean serious loss to her owners. It has been arranged to have the Return, an East Liverpool packet, here this morning to take the Princess' place till she is ready to come out again. It is said that an action for damages may be instituted.

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