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Langell Shipyard Walking Tour

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This is a contributing entry for Langell Shipyard Walking Tour and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

The tiles on this marker present an illustration of the cabin and stern of the schooner FONTANA sunk after a collision with the barge SANTIAGO in the rapids of the St. Clair River on August 3, 1900. The 231 ft. FONTANA had been built in the Langell Shipyard in 1888. The schooner was carrying a load of iron ore in tow of the steamer KALIYUGA downbound opposite the Fort Gratiot light in a light fog when the SANTIAGO, in tow of the steamer APPOMATTOX, sheared into the FONTANA’S bow causing a big hole. The FONTANA sank in a few minutes with the loss of one life. John McGregor, who had joined the crew just two months prior to the collision, was asleep in the FONTANA’S forecastle when the collision occurred and had no chance to escape.

Marker #9 FONTANA

Rectangle, Wood, Motor vehicle, Boat

Simon Langell and friends aboard the FONTANA prior to its launching in June 1888

Simon Langell and friends aboard the FONTANA prior to its launching in June 1888

FONTANA stern remains above water north of the Blue Water Bridge after collision on Aug. 4, 1900.

Water, Boat, Sky, Watercraft

Vessel Name: FONTANA

Official Number: 120713

Rig: Schooner

Vessel Length: 231.33 feet

Vessel Width: 38.00 feet

Vessel Depth: 9.00 feet

Gross Tonnage: 1,183.00

Net Tonnage: 1,105.00

Hull Material: Wood

Builder: Simon Langell


1888 – June 28, enrolled Port Huron, Michigan

1888 – July 16, arrived Duluth in tow of steamer KALIYUGA; maiden voyage

1891 – remeasured: 231.33 feet long; 39.00 feet wide; 17 feet deep

1888 to 1900 – iron ore trade for Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co.

1900 – August 3, sunk by collision with barge SANTIAGO in rapids of St. Clair River; one life lost. Was in tow of steamer KALIYUGA, downbound with 2,593 tons of iron ore from Presque Isle, MI to Cleveland, OH

1900 – Nov 19, documents surrendered, Port Huron; total loss

Great Lakes Maritime Database and photo archives, Great Lakes Maritime Collection, Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library. “Shipbuilding in St. Clair,” Research Binder, Ships File Cabinet, St. Clair Historical Museum and Research Center archives. “Fontana (Schooner) U120713, sunk by collision, 4 Aug 1900”, Detroit Free Press, Aug. 4, 1900. 

Image Sources(Click to expand)

St. Clair Historical Museum and Research Center