The ill fated Collins liners Arctic and Pacific


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For a time in the 19th century, the Americans rivaled the British in the arena of trans Atlantic travel. The American Collins Line certainly gave the new Cunard line a run for their money. But a string of misfortune would bring the Collins line to ruin- the sinking of the Arctic in 1854, and the loss of the Pacific- with all hands, in 1856. The wreck of the Pacific was found within the last 10 years. Does anyone know what the standing theory is is to the cause of her loss? I hope the wreck of the Artcic is found- prior to the Titanic sinking, Americans regarded the Arctic sinking as the definative shipwreck.

A great book was written about the Arctic sinking, called "Women and Children Last". The stokers and crew commondeered the boats, leaving the passengers to drown. No rescue attempt was held for days, as New York ship companies asked for outragious prices for the use of their vessels in the resuce effort. Does anyone know if the wreck of ther Arctic has ever been located? I beleive Walter Lord's thesis was on the Arctic disaster..

regards

tarn Stephanos
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Hello Tarn,
Have you read the latest "Arctic" book "The Sea Shall Embrace Them"? by David W. Shaw. It's very good. Also, was it the "Pacific" that was discovered off The Isle of Man - or was that the "City of Boston"? So many disappearing steamers in that early era - I'm getting quite confused!

Thanks

Geoff
 
Jan 7, 2002
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Hi Geoff!

Is this book avaialble? Ill buy it at once if its in the stores and in print! The Pacific was found near Ireland mehtinks, but Ive heard a follow up dive to determine her identity for absolute certainty never happened due to lack of funds..

regards

tarn Stephanos
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Hi Tarn,

I got my copy from Amazon.com
The ISBN number is 0-7432-2217-2
There's nothing startlingly new in it - but then after 150 years I didn't suppose there would be!
Good luck!

I thought it was the Pacific that they had found, it's between Ireland and the Isle of Man if I remember the facts properly. how strange that she should founder so close to port as opposed to Mid Atlantic as was believed at the time!

Geoff
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Unfortunately, "disappearances" in that day and age were all too common. The sea remains a dangerous place even today, so how much more so with the old wooded vessels with no watertight subdivision? Also, no radio, so if one came to greif, there was no way of telling anybody about it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 7, 2002
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"The Sea Shall Embrace Them" is a very good book- I just finished it last night! The tale of the ill fated Collins liner "Arctic" was a sad one indeed- the heroism displayed on Titanic was not to be found on the Arctic. Any other Arctic buffs here?

regards

Tarn Stephanos
 

Jim Kalafus

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Here is the passenger list for the Pacific's fatal voyage, published March 22, 1856:

Figuerias, J.
Wilson II, Mr.
Shilden, H.C.
Lieden, Mr.
Atwater, A.W.
McDougal, W.
Pauchet, Mr. and Mrs.
Cutter, G.N.
Haight, R.K.
Getz, H.
Steere, Mr., Mrs. and Child
Dutilh, H.
Glen, James
Erving, Mr. A., and Wife
Barbour, Mr. I., Wife and Child
Kershaw, Mr.
Ridgway, Mr.
Carter, A.K.
Hopf, Mr.
O'Reilly, Mr.
Charlesworth, Mr.
Charrinaud, Mr.
Seymour, Mr. W.B., and Wife
Topling, Wm.
Berridge, Mr. S.B., Wife and Child
Jordan, Miss.
Reilly, Wm Peel
Trimmer, H.
Heck, Misses
Espie, R.
Lapps, Mr.
Jordan, G.
Whittaker, W.
Codosa, Mr.
Dorizano, Mr.
Wilson, Mr.
Moore, A.
Smith, LeGrand

of whom, 15 were carried in First Cabin. It is also mentioned that there were 151 crew aboard, but they are not named.

Tarn- you asked if the wreck of the Arctic has ever been located. A good question. I've wondered that myself.As you might recall from Women and Children last, the wreck was located a year or so after the sinking, so it might not be all that difficult to relocate were any relatively accurate records kept concerning the 1855/56 discovery.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Most likely, in the case of the Arctic, lack of funds. They knew exactly where it was in the 1850s, and probably, somewhere, have the coordinates of where she lies. The wreck is in water of comparable depth to the Lusitania, but being less than 300 feet long, and of wood, might prove more of a challenge to find at this point and, financially, less of a reward.

As was said earlier in this thread, the Pacific may well have been found in the 1980s, in English coastal waters, but little has been written about it. Probably another reason why no expedition to find the Arctic has been launched- lack of general interest.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Tarn,

What was the cause of the sinking of the Arctic?

Best regards,

Jason
happy.gif
 

Mark Baber

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What was the cause of the sinking of the Arctic?

Too much water in the hull, I suppose.
 
Jan 7, 2002
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She was struck by a smaller vessel- At first it was believed the other ship would sink- turned out Arctic was the doomed vessel.One of the lifeboats was lowered and vanished forever in a fog.
Firemen on the Arctic commondeered lifeboats, and anyone who protested was smashed on the head with a shovel..

Tarn Stephanos
 

James Hill

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the vessel was a small french steamer called the
Vesta.Arctic is one of my favourite ships does anyone know a website about it exept www.greatocaen-liners.net/
they have quite a good bit of info on Arctic but nothing on the Pacific.
 

Jim Kalafus

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James: The 1856 Pacific disappearance was underreported, to say the very least, particularly in comparison to the Arctic wreck. There is a lot of information available but it is hard to track down, and there is no definitive source to turn to for all of the information. The best single item you can easily find is the March 22 1856 Frank Leslie's Illustrated (which can be found for as little as $20 from time to time) which contains not only the passenger list as provided by the Collins Line, but also a striking colored illustration of the ship at sea. My guess is that so much time elapsed between the sailing of the ship and the final announcement of loss that the impact was somewhat blunted. Also, if you have access to American Heritage back issues, there was a piece on the Collins Line back in the 1950s by the title of The Calamity Line which gives a brief account of the Pacific disappearance.
 

Jim Kalafus

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This dates to 1851, and is the cover art to a piece of sheet music by the title of Atlantic's Return- a schoettische "dedicated to Capt James West." The print was done by the well know Endicott firm, and was later used unchanged on a set of sheet music about the loss of the Arctic. In its 13 inch form it is considerably better detailed than this scan suggests, but the green, maroon, green-with-grey-trim color scheme of the hull did not scan particularly well. One of my favorite seldom seen views of the Collins line.
50763.jpg
 

Scott Reigel

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Jim --

If you have it, check out the similar painting of PS Atlantic on pg 46 of Kludas' "Record Breakers of the North Atlantic" (and if you don't have the book, get it, it's one of my favorites). Looks like a re-paint of the same image, also showing the short lived mizzen mast.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Was it this one, which was run as a memorial in 1854? I've not seen the Kludas book. Again the scan is kind of mediocre because I did not want to take this out of its frame, but the details on this print are again very sharp and the colors are dark but not muddy as they appear here.

I have been trying to find good quality photos of any of the Collins ships- I have found a pair of deck shots aboard the Atlantic and a clear broadside view of the Adriatic, plus the oft-reprinted stereoview of the two Collins ships docked in NYC. If anyone knows of others which have been reprinted please let me know.

50773.jpg
 
Jan 7, 2002
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Thanks for the image Jim!
It occoured to me Walter Lord's college thesis was about the Arctic sinking..are copies of his thesis available to the public?

thanks

tarn Stephanos
 
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