Burning of the steamer Granite State



The steamer Granite State

Goodspeed's Landing

Goodspeed’s Landing, East Haddam CT

Ida Belle Mead, the great-granddaughter of  the Reverend Solomon Mead, was born in South Salem, NY, on Oct. 9, 1862.  On May 16, 1883, she married a railroad conductor, Clifford L. Main, in Orange, CT. They traveled to New York City for their wedding trip. On the return, they rode the steamer Granite State up the Connecticut River to Hartford to visit Clifford’s brothers.  The steamer caught fire and sank 41 miles south of Hartford at Goodspeed’s Landing in East Haddam. Ida and Clifford jumped in the river, but only he survived. Here is a part of a report in the New York Times on May 18, 1883.



HARTFORD, May 18.—-The steamer Granite State was burned at Goodspeed Landing this morning. The steamer went up to the dock apparently all right at 4:30 o’clock in broad daylight. The Dock-master took the head and midship hawsers and fastened them to piles as usual and noticed nothing wrong. Even the clerk of the boat at that moment had discovered nothing, but three minutes later the boat was full of smoke and soon the flames were under way. A fireman first discovered the fire at the head of the boiler and tried to put it out by bringing a hose to bear upon it, but there was too much heat and flame for him to remain and he ran for his life. The clerk, Mr. Silloway, as soon as he saw the danger, rushed to the state-room hall and aroused the passengers, who speedily sought the lower deck. The boat meanwhile had not reached the pier, but was a few feet away, with both lines still fast.

The engineer had been compelled to flee, and the bell-cords connecting with the pilot-house were burned. There was no control of the machinety[sic], and a stiff northerly wind was blowing and the tide was strong ebb. The steamer was too far away from the wharf to make the gang-planks of service, and 20 men on board seized the midship hawser and by superhuman efforts pulled the boat near enough to get the plank out, but in doing this the forward hawser broke and the vessel swung off. There was time, however, for a major part of those on board to go ashore, but some were in, the bow of the boat and could not get below. These jumped into the river, and from 15 to 20 men and women were struggling in the waves. Small boats were swamped. Then a ferry-boat was brought up and all then in the water were saved….

Clifford L. Main, a young man living in New-Haven, was married in that city Wednesday evening, and went to New-York that night by boat on his wedding trip. He took the Granite State last night to come to Hartford to visit his brothers. He and his wife succeeded in partially dressing and went into the hall from their state-room, encountering a good deal of smoke, but they got to the forward part of the vessel and there watched the chances of escape. Mr. Main could not swim, but as the boat had swung off he found he must go into the water. He grasped his wife firmly around the waist, jumped into the stream, and succeeded in catching hold of a hawser, but it broke and they both sank. Three times they went below the surface together. The last time Mr. Main lost the hold on his wife, as he was nearly exhausted. He found himself clinging to one of the wheel paddles without knowing how he came there. The body of his wife was recovered this afternoon.


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