Mingo Junction, WV Ohio River Steamer SCIOTO Collision, July 1882

The Steamer SCOTIA




Pittsburg, Penn., July 4. -- News reached here at midnight that the steamer Scioto, an Ohio River packet, had come into collision with a tow-boat near Mingo Junction, 47 miles below this city. The Scioto was crowded with pleasure-seekers, and it was at first reported that 150 persons were drowned. Every effort is being made to reach the scene of the horror and obtain particulars. A special to the Dispatch, received at 1 A. M., says the Scioto came in collision with the tow-boat John Loomis half a mile below Mingo Junction. The collision was caused by a misunderstanding of signals. The Scioto went down in 15 feet of water three minutes after the collision. Five hundred pleasure-seekers were on board, and it is impossible to ascertain the number drowned, as all is excitement. The Loomis picked up a large number of people. Some estimate the number missing at 100. Others put the number much lower.
Later. -- Nothing definite has been received from the scene of the river disaster further than that the night was a bright one, enabling the rescuers to do good work. A Wellsville dispatch places the number of missing at 10 or 12, 6 belonging to that city. This is a very low estimate. It seems almost incredible that so small a number was lost out of a total of 500 on board the Scioto.
Mingo Junction, Ohio, July 4. -- The steamer Scioto, with about 500 passengers on board, came in collision with the steam tug John Lomas in the middle of the river to-night. The Scioto sank in 15 feet of water. Only the pilot-house is visible. The passengers are arriving here, but are so excited that no definite information at to the number of the lost can be obtained.
One of the survivors says the Scioto was coming up the river under a full head of steam, and when about half a mile from Mingo Junction the steam tug John Loomis was sighted coming down. The pilot of the Scioto whistled for the channel, but, owing to a misunderstanding, both of the boats took the same side, the John Loomis striking the Scioto and sinking her in 15 feet of water in three minutes from the time of the collision. The scenes on the Scioto were heartrending, and the life struggles were terrible to behold. The Lomas was only slightly disabled and went to work at sonce to save those on board the unfortunate Scioto. This task was rendered easier by the bright moonlight, and no doubt many lives were saved on this account. It is now believed that the first reports were exaggerated, and that the loss of life will not exceed 20 persons.
Wheeling, West Va., July 5 -- 2 A. M. -- ARTHUR McNULLY, who lives at Cross Creek, was an eye-witness of the whole matter. He was standing at his front door, immediately opposite where the collision occurred. He says: "It was about 8 o'clock. The Lomas, in passing the island chute, whistled for the preference of sides, and, as near as could be judged, it was three minutes before the Scioto answered, and neither of them appeared to sheer off, and almost immediately the collision occurred.
General confusion followed, and I then saw people jumping from the hurricane-deck and all parts of the steamer. As far as I could see the Lomas struck the Scioto forward, for the fire flew over the bow of the Scioto. The Scioto sank almost instantly, and the Lomas backed up as soon as possible. The Lomas ran to the Ohio shore and landed her passengers and then returned to the wreck. The crew and officers of the Lomas then exercised every effort to rescue the unfortunate passengers and succeeded in landing over 400, making several trips, and continuing to work as long as there were any who could be rescued. As soon as I saw the accident I jumped into my skiff and started for the wreck. When I got there I got five persons within a distance of 20 feet, and there were two other skiffs below me picking them up, but I don't know how. There was hallooing all over now, and there appeared to be a great many persons in the water, but it was too dark for me to tell the number. I then took the parties I had rescued to the Ohio side, and by that time the Lomas had landed her party and returned to the wreck. I had just come home from work when the boat came past, and I could not tell how many were on board, but from what the parties who had landed told me there were from 650 to 700 on the boat. From the run of the conversation of those who had been landed I gathered that from 500 to 550 were landed. Three women were carried ashore and died after they had been rescued. Two little boys and the assistant engineer of the Scioto were rescued and stopped at Cox's. The assistant engineer told me he thought many lives must have been lost, as the lower decks were crowded and the boat sank instantly."
"A man and woman passed within 100 yards of my house. He was holding her up and crying for help. My wife saw them sink. The scene was terrible. I saw at least 50 young ladies who had been brought to the shore and who were saved by their escorts swimming and holding them up."

The New York Times New York 1882-07-05