The Sinking of the Marquette & Bessemer No. 2. Courtesy of Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.
The train car ferry Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 was a large vessel, 350 feet long which carried freight across Lake Erie from Conneaut, Ohio to Port Stanley, Ontario. On December 9, 1909, the ship left Ohio on a routine crossing. On board was a crew of thirty-six, including Captain Robert McLeod, with his brother John as first mate, plus thirty rail cars loaded with coal and steel.
Suddenly the ship was in the midst of a vicious winter storm. The ship was lashed with waves, and a blinding blizzard. The ferry’s distress signal was heard on the Canadian shore from Rondeau to Long Point, and much later on the American shore, but no one was able to come to its aid. The vessel simply disappeared, presumably swamped.
Three days later, a lifeboat containing the frozen corpses of nine crew members was found about thirty kilometers off Conneaut. But despite sonar searches throughout the shallow lake, no further sign of the Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 has ever been found.