October 3, 1891: Steamer Winslow burns while docked in Duluth 

On this day in Duluth in 1891, the wooden packet steamer Winslow was destroyed by fire while docked at Duluth. The 220-foot propellor-driven vessel had been delivering packages and passengers on the Great Lakes since she launched in Cleveland in 1863. The day before she burned she had run aground on the Lake Superior shore adjacent to Lakeside. While teamsters unloaded a load of brown sugar at the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad dock, sailors noticed a small fire in its wood bunker. Despite their attempts to extinguish the blaze, it quickly spread—there were no pumps on hand to use water from the bay. The Duluth Fire Department arrived, but they also struggled to control the blaze. The harbor master, fearing the fire would spread throughout the harbor, ordered tugboats to push the flaming vessel to shallow waters off Minnesota Point where tugs outfitted with pumps tried to put out the fire, but these too failed. The Winslow burned to the waterline. The next year a salvage attempt was abandoned, and what was left of the Winslow was towed to a site upriver and out of shipping lanes. According to diving guide author Stephen B. Daniel’s Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior’s North Shore notes that “About two-thirds of the [Winslow’s] burned-out hull, along with the propellor and propellor shaft, remain.”

The steamer Winslow. (Image: Great Lakes Vessel Index)