Encyclopedia Titanica Message Board » Other Ships and Shipwrecks » SOUVENIERS OF "NEW ENGLAND'S TITANIC:" THE LARCHMONT.
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Jim Kalafus
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 10:32 pm:       

Received today a collection of artifacts pertaining to what was possibly, after the General Slocum, the worst shipwreck of the steam era in New England waters: The loss, by collision, of the Joy Line's night boat Larchmont on February 12, 1907.

The Joy Line was a relatively new company, serving the NYC/Boston/Providence routes. In todays' term the Joy Line could be described as a budget competitor to the older, larger and better financed lines which plied Long Island Sound. chief amongst them the Fall River Line. The Larchmont had been built for the International Line in 1885 (International line China is still recovered from the wreckage) but was abandoned after a collision and grounding in Boston Harbor. "Restored" by the Joy Line, she was to encounter less than smooth sailing during the final 5 years of her life; experiencing at least two fires, a grounding, and a collision, between 1902 and early 1907.
larchmont 1

Larchmont sailed from Providence to NYC on the evening of February 11 1907. There is some contention, still, as to how many were aboard. The passenger manifest was lost with the vessel, and the Joy Line gave a low (but realistic, considering the season and the weather) figure of 120 aboard. The newspapers consistantly used a figure of 190, and Quartermaster Staples would later claim 352 passengers and crew had boarded. It is likely that the Joy Line figure was kept low to minimise damages, and highly unlikely that 300 people would have booked onto a night boat (total capacity 600) in stormy mid winter weather, so my own guess is that the real figure falls between 120 and 190, and probably closer to the 120 end of the scale.

45 knot winds were blowing in the Sound as the Larchmont progressed towards NYC. Visibility was low, and at a point 3 miles SE of Watch Hill Rhode Island, the Larchmont was rammed by the 120 foot schooner Harry Knowlton, shortly before midnight.

The above image is from Frank Leslie's Weekly and is an advertising print of the Larchmont altered to show teh location and extent of the damage.
fnord
Jim Kalafus
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 10:42 pm:       

The Harry Knowlton, under the command of Captain Haley, struck the Larchmont forward of her Port paddle box with enough force to penetrate at least half the vessel's width of 37 feet. Larchmont's engines or steam lines were damaged in the collision, for she rapidly lost way as clouds of steam entered the forward passenger areas. The 120, or 190, or 352 souls aboard found themselves in the horrible position of being aboard a rapidly sinking vessel in the dead of night, with temperatures near freezing and the sea running high.
Knowlton
This snapshot was taken "the morning after" and shows the Harry Knowlton aground on Weekapaug Beach Rhode Island, and was sent to a Mrs Titmas of Westerly by the presumed photographer, J.Weir.
fnord
Jim Kalafus
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 10:51 pm:       

There is some confusion as to whether any effort was made to launch all of the Larchmont's boats. One boat DID escape, bearing Captain McVay and 7 other crew members, who circled the settling liner before rowing, with the wind, towards Block Island. Incredibly, McVay would later state that he had selected "the best crew" for his boat, and that it was the first away. Two other boats came ashore later, but whether they were launched or broke away as the ship sank remains to be established. Of the 19 initial survivors, 8 were in McVay's boat, 8 survived atop the deckhouse, leaving a grand total of three survivors between the two mystery lifeboats.

2 of the 19 died within the next couple of days, leaving a final tally of 17 survivors and at the very least 103 dead.

The Larchmont sank in about 15 minutes, settling on an even keel in 140 feet of water 3 miles from shore. As she went, her aft deckhouse tore away.
40 of the 112/182/345 persons left behind by the captain and his "best crew" managed to climb atop the makeshift vessel.
Deckhouse
fnord
Jim Kalafus
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 11:09 pm:       

The following day, the deckhouse was located wallowing 4 miles north of Block Island, by the schooner Elsie. Of the original 40 or so occupants, only 8 remained alive after their 12 hour ordeal. Captain McVay and his "best crew" came ashore at Sandy Point, Block Island, all so frozen that they were unable to walk and had to be carried to the Life Saving Station. Later, an Inquiry would claim that there was not sufficient evidence to censure McVay for his seeming abandonment of the passengers and crew.

A photo survives showing a pile of at least 45 ice-and-snow encrusted bodies which washed ashore at Block Island after the disaster. The deckhouse also came ashore, was salvaged, and served as a fishing shack. On the mainland, the coal laden Harry Knowlton was beached with no loss of life at Weekapaug, where Mr. (or Mrs.?) Weir cut way this section of sail as a souvenier for friend Mrs. Titmas.
Knowlton Sail

The Larchmont rests in 140 feet of water, in fragmentary condition. Acquaintances of mine have dived aboard her and describe her as being a "difficult" wreck; dark and with swift currents. At least one of her paddle wheels rises straight up from the bottom, and I believe that her walking beam does as well.
fnord
Shelley Dziedzic
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 8:20 pm:       

Great stuff Jim. I have a large brass spike from her recovered by a neighbor. Ed Dunbaugh, whose family owned the Joy Line was a frequent speaker at our local Steamship Historical Society gatherings, and once in a while he is at the Fall River Marine Museum- which as well as Titanic and Andrea Doria, has superb steamship memorabilia. I was there recently and was sad to see the Kronzprinzessin Cecelie's bell has gone. The last underwater photos of the Larchmont I saw show her paddle box frame still standing eerily upright, What a story. I think her running mate may have been the Edgemont.
"Bad temper I can stand- but not bad taste." Archie Butt
Shelley Dziedzic
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 8:29 pm:       

Next time you come up to Rhode Island- we'll take the ferry out to Block Island -there's a few historians you'd like to meet- and some newspaper coverage in the Westerly Sun. We can even run out to Weekapaug to see where the Knowlton went aground-and as further enticement- I will make you some famous clear-broth Rhode Island "chowdah".
"Bad temper I can stand- but not bad taste." Archie Butt
Jim Kalafus
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 10:37 pm:       

Hi, Shelley: Her running mate was the Tremont which burned in 1904. Thanks for the kind words and the offer of chowder, two things for which I am a genuine pushover. Mike, who as you know 'summers' :-) near Weekapaug, told me that some time ago a storm earthed a large fragment of some wreck or other which may still be visible. Would like to think that it is part of the Knowlton 'though odds are it isn't.
fnord
Shelley Dziedzic
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 1:23 am:       

Here are my old friend Ed's two books- easily found on all the bookfind sites:
Dunbaugh, Edwin L.
Night Boat to New England 1815-1900.
370pp, b/w photos, index., DJ. A chronology of overnight steamship service between New York and southern New England in the nineteenth century. Published under the auspices of The Marine Museum at Fall River.
and on the Joy Line:
Dunbaugh, Edwin L.
The Era of the Joy Line. A Saga of Steamboating on Long Island Sound (Nautical Books)
363pp, 76 photos, notes, index, worn, rubbed DJ. The history a steamship line that carried freight and passengers between New York and New England and resisted JP Morgan's monopoly of the trade.

I made the chowder tonight, added some fresh scallops and cream and a lump of real buttah. Yum.
"Bad temper I can stand- but not bad taste." Archie Butt
Jim Kalafus
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 3:21 am:       

Ah, buttery chowder and strep throat (which I am currently enduring with Spartan fortitude) what a combination! Were I not contageous, I'd already have been at your house. Thanks for the tip on the Joy Line book- it shall be ordered ASAP. At some point I would like to add some Larchmont fragments to my souveniers de morte.
Who Is The Black Dahlia?
Michael Poirier
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 3:49 am:       

Hmmm..... An adventure with Coot, Sonny and Mama? I'm game. But could you pack something else? You knows how I hates anything seafood based!

Coot- we'll go a-searchin for more collectibles when you visit.
Jim Kalafus
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 5:24 am:       

Oh please. One near-death experience on QM2 from inadvertantly eating sea food and suddenly WE ALL have to alter our diet plans? You'll have chowder and LIKE IT, Missy.

>Coot- we'll go a-searchin for more collectibles when you visit.

Thanks. I searched your library while you were asleep and found your Laconia Fatal Voyage keepsakes, which fit nicely under my coat and now have the Pride Of The Place in my collection. Oh wait, did I say that out loud? uh....emmmm....just kidding?
~coot
Who Is The Black Dahlia?
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