A Ship Wreck on the Raging Canal
by Charles F. Sullivan
Probably in the summer of 1888, the young people of Raper Church then located at the corner of Fifth and Jackson streets, planned a boat ride upon the raging canal, and we were to start from the Warren street canal bridge. We were to start early, in order to have as much daylight as possible, and a large crowd gathered there and boarded the boat, owned by Wm. Densmore, who lived at that address. It was quite a warm evening, and all wanted to be out on deck to get the air, and the deck was overloaded. A few went into cabin which was intended for passenger travel, and about 7 P M we got started, down the canal, singing and laughing and having a good time in every way possible. I was up on deck with my lady friend, and nothing more enjoyable could have been planned, than just quietly riding down the canal at that time in the evening.
It was just dusk, as we were passing a place near the present crossing of Patterson Boulevard and the old canal, when we met a boat headed for Dayton, coming around the curve in front of us, and we turned to the right to pass it. As we did so the bottom of the boat brushed against the bank of the tow path, and with the weight of all those people on the deck, the boat made quite a creak or groan, and as I was sitting upon the edge of the deck with my feet hanging down, I feared all was not right so I stepped off temporarily to see just what would happen. Walking along the tow path, I could see all that happened, and we passed the other boat with nothing further, and as the boat started to go toward the center of the canal, I was just in the act of getting on again, when another groan was heard. I stayed upon the towpath and we had only gone a few feet when another groan was heard and then the whole deck came sliding over onto the tow path, bringing all that were on top with it and landing them high and dry. I do not think a scream or other noise was made, and all the men gathered around the deck and pulled it clear of the hull. I was sure that some of those in the cabin were either killed or badly hurt but I saw nothing of the kind.
However I have been told that there were two ladies that were hurt Miss Mary Haas sister of William, Walter, Ida and Ella of Morgan Place was badly skinned up and after getting her out that she fainted but was revived and went back to town with the rest of us.
Another lady had quite a gash upon her forehead but it was not serious. The whole crowd then after seeing that all were accounted for started down the canal to the field where the Dayton Power & Light plant is now located at Millers’ ford, across there and through the wooden bridge and up Cincinnati street to Washington street where we took the electric car for our homes. Walter Haas seeing the condition of his sister hurried home and got a horse and buggy and came down there to get Miss Mary and not finding her at the wreck, came up the same road and caught up with us and loaded her in the buggy and took her home. We were all tired but happy that so little personal injury had occurred from a wreck that seemed to be liable for much personal suffering. This was my last ride upon the canal, and the memory of it will be with me as long as I live.
As the canal is now a thing of the past, I am sure that I will not take another. At present I think that I know of about six still living that were upon that boat, but many of them are now passed on.