1841 Wreck of the Steamship Erie Event


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Alvin F. Oickle, author of Disaster on the Potomac, Disaster in Lawrence, and Disaster at Dawn, will be on hand at Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society on Thursday, May 19, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. to sign copies of his new book on a historic Lake Erie disaster.

On August 9, 1841, the steamship Erie, one of the most elegant and fastest sailing vessels between Buffalo and Chicago, departed, carrying 343 passengers. Many were Swiss and German immigrants, planning to start new lives in America’s heartland- most never made it. The Erie erupted in flames during the night, and, despite the heroic efforts of the crew of the Dewitt Clinton, 254 lives were lost.

As news of this disaster spread, internationally renowned artists and writers, including Horatio Alger Jr. and possibly James Fenimore Cooper, wrote about ‘John Maynard,’ a fictitious, heroic helmsman.

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