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Scenes from the Emigrant Experience

160th Anniversary of Steamer Atlantic Disaster on Lake Erie, Part 1

By Bruce Weaver II

   In the early morning hours of August 20, 1852, the Steamer Atlantic collided with the Ogdensburg on Lake Erie with great loss of life. On board were some 130 emigrants from Valdres. More than half of the Valdris onboard the Atlantic drowned.

   Arrangements made with the Michigan Central Railroad were for the passengers to board the Steamer Atlantic at Buffalo, continue to Detroit, connect with a train bound for Chicago and board another vessel for the final leg via Lake Michigan to Milwaukee.

   The accompanying images, scanned from sources originally published in the 1850’s, will provide some context for that tragedy. Descendants of the 62 Valdres survivors of this nautical disaster may be especially interested in seeing for the first time certain of these related items.

 

Click images below for a larger sketch in new window

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The Steamer Atlantic depicted in an old woodcut, courtesy of the Great Lakes Historical Society


 

 

News of the tragedy as it appeared “Across the Pond” on page 179 of the September 4, 1852 issue of the Illustrated London News. The “fog” alibi as a contributing factor for the collision was later discarded



The front page of Gleason’s Pictorial for September 11, 1852 was devoted to the Atlantic disaster on Lake Erie.

Larger (readable) image of text

Artist’s fanciful depiction of the collision of the Atlantic and the Ogdensburg on Lake Erie, as it appeared in Gleason’s Pictorial on September 11, 1852

To supply geographical context, the skyline of Buffalo, NY—including its major lighthouse, can be seen in the background as the steamer Griffin left its harbor for a watery grave, representative of that of the Atlantic.  Illustrated News, July 27, 1850

 
 

Advertisement for the Michigan Central Railroad as it appeared in the Milwaukee Sentinel in August 1852.

Note the “Atlantic” is listed along with the "Ocean" and the “Mayflower” (missing type left out the “f” and “l”)

[Hull, England] [Scenes Home]

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Last updated: January 04, 2014

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