Wooden paddle steamer Mountaineer, built
Patterson & Mercer, Bristol, 1835
262 tons (builder's measurement), 137 ft long by 21 ft wide.
Engines side lever 150hp by Neath Abbey Ironworks.
First owner: Swansea and Liverpool Steam Packet Co., Swansea
Voyage Liverpool to Swansea, Captain H Edwards (jnr)
Wreck 1 4 January 1841 aground on rocks in Swellies (Menai Straits), all saved.
Refloated October 1842 and repaired at Chester by 1846 (now 196 tons) with tubular boilers.
Coastal trading London-Netherlands then Liverpool - Ireland.
Voyage to St John's (New Brunswick) in ballast to new owners
Wreck 2 Engines disconnected, under sail ran aground off Outer Banks, North Carolina, 25 December 1852
All aboard saved, total wreck
Thought to be the known wreck off Luke St., Kitty Hawk, in shallow water.
The Mountaineer was built to take copper from Swansea to Liverpool.
Swansea was the centre of copper production and Liverpool was a major
international port and also had many vessels needing copper sheathing
to protect against marine fouling.
She had distinguished herself under the command of Captain John Edwards in the 1839 hurricane when she stood by the St. Andrew and helped to save her crew and passengers. For this service the captain and crew of the Mountaineer were rewarded.
Her return journey from Liverpool to Swansea in early 1841 was one of the first occasions when the son of Captain John Edwards took command (since Captain Edwards had been appointed Harbour Master at Swansea).
From Cambrian 16 Jan 1841
THE MOUNTAINEER STEAMER. We briefly announced, in our last, the wreck of this fine steamer, in the Menai Straits; and in a small portion of our impression, added the following letter, which communicated some details and which we now re-publish for the information of our readers.
Carnarvon, Jan 6 1841. SIR, I hereby take the liberty of forwarding to you as correct an account as possibly I can, of the melancholy wreck of the Mountaineer, of Swansea. She sailed from Liverpool on Monday morning last, about 7 o'clock, and contended with a dreadful heavy sea the whole of the day in consequence of which, she put into Beaumaris, and struck on "Conway Reef;" but was carried off by the heavy sea. The captain then thought it prudent to come to an anchor at Garth Point, where she lay to for some time. It had been his intention to remain there until morning, but the first mate, who was also the pilot, advised him to proceed to Carnarvon. She had gone beyond the Menai Bridge, when she struck on the rock, called the Carbina [Cribbin?], in the Swilly[Swellies] of the Straits, with great force; and it being found impossible to get her off, the captain immediately ordered out the boats, of which there were two, and all the passengers were safely landed. As she filled with water almost immediately, the luggage could not be got out, until the tide fell; and though a good deal of it was recovered, it was altogether damaged from sea water. The vessel still remains in the same position, but there are some hopes of getting her off. Although the lives of the passengers were providentially saved, many of them sustained some injury, from their property being damaged and lost, besides being put to great inconvenience and expense from detention, in consequence of their finding great difficulty in procuring any conveyance. The conduct of Captain Edwards at that critical period was most kind and attentive to the passengers, particularly to the females; and it does not appear that any blame could be attached to him, as regards her having struck, as the first mate, being pilot for the passage had the command of the vessel. We regret to say that the cargo, which consists of machinery and bale goods, is still on board the vessel, under water. I remain, yours, etc., Wm. REES, a Passenger.
We regret, however, to find, from more recent communications, that the vessel had sunk in deep water, the tide taking her on the inside quarter, by which she canted off, although there were two chain cables placed round her and fastened to the rock, to keep her in. She now lies with six feet water over her beams at low water, and little hopes are entertained of saving any portion of her machinery or cargo. The Captain, when she struck, very prudently ordered the whole of the spiritous liquor on board to be thrown overboard
From Liverpool Mercury 6 May 1842 [abridged version of advertisement]
Mountaineer Steamer, 300t, 140hp, now sunk in Menai Strait near the Bridge.
Offer for sale: Hull, machinery, together with 3 stout iron chain cables with which she is strung ready for lifting; as she is lying in 8 feet water in an eddy sheltered by rocks, the operation of blowing her up can be most easily effected.
From North Wales Chronicle 18th October 1842
RECOVERY OF THE WRECK OF THE MOUNTAINEER STEAMER.
The truly hazardous undertaking to raise the wreck of the above-named Steamer, an enterprise the most difficult and disheartening it is possible to conceive, has, we rejoice to say, been crowned with success; the hull of that ill-fated vessel having on Friday morning last been raised from the rocky bed where it lay for one year and three quarters, and towed to the beach under Vaenol, where it lies for the present.
A little history of the Mountaineer, the misadventure, and the means used for her recovery, may not be unacceptable, inasmuch as very great interest was taken in the proceedings and the result was watched with commensurate anxiety along the whole course of the Menai Straits.
She was built by the Swansea and Liverpool Steam-packet Company for the purpose of conveying copper ore from Swansea to Liverpool. She was a fine vessel, well built and complete in all her appointments, her estimated value, somewhere about £14000. The accident happened on the 4th of January 1841, on the return voyage, (which was occasionally through the passage of the Menai Straits) with a general cargo, in charge of Mr. Edwards, son of the regular and usual master, and who upon this occasion unfortunately, as it turned out, trusted to one of the crew who had been in the habit of steering the vessel through on former voyages. The vessel struck with violence upon the Crest rock [Swelly Rock], and had her forefoot shattered so as to occasion leakage. Upon this rock she remained for three or four days, but in consequence of a difference of opinion as to getting out the cargo, which in her then position might have been effected, the acting captain declined taking upon himself the responsibility of discharging her until the owners would arrive, and by that time the vessel had shifted from the rock and sunk in deep water. An attempt to extricate her was subsequently made by the owners, and the undertaking was confided to Captain Edwards, but from its apparent hopelessness, all further effort was abandoned after an outlay of about £800 [a letter from Captain Edwards corrects this - he was employed to check that no excessive expenditure was made in recovering the wreck]
The next step was to advertise the hull in the North Wales Chronicle and other papers, and as encouragement to the enterprising, it was set forth that the wreck might be blown up, but no offer ensued, the most experienced men in England considering the achievement as next to impossible, if not an absolute impossibility. Last July, the work was taken in hand by Messrs. Haslam and Edwards, with the able assistance of Mr. Henry Fisher. A diving apparatus was procured, which Thomas Jones, a clever and intrepid diver, and a Bangor man to boot, repeatedly descended to ascertain the position of and to pass the chains from the flats[barge-like boats] round the wreck. For a long while, difficulties beset them at every step; it was found that the vessel had capsized in a hole, or rather whirlpool, out of which to raise her clear of the rock took 21.5 feet of water - again, there was only one hour and a half, more or less, for work at low water, during which the chains must be tightened and everything prepared for a further lift at high water; add to this, the keeping afloat of a weight of about 200 tons specific gravity against a rushing tide of awful force for a term of five hours, which not infrequently disarranged and undone all that had been previously accomplished, and some idea may be formed of the Herculean nature of the task, and the skill, daring, and untiring perseverance requisite to surmount these manifold obstructions.
The last lift took place between five and six o'clock on Friday - the vessel fetched the reef with a rumbling sound, or mighty grunt as our informant, who assisted in the operations, described it, and was towed to her temporary haven amidst the cheers of the hardy crew, who fired a salute upon the occasion. The little fleet moving off with their hugeous prize, and the various boats skimming through the water with anchors and warps requisite for keeping the fleet in the proper track, at all times a most intricate navigation, is described as a beautiful and animated sight, such a scene as is witnessed in the whale fishery when the boats have secured the monarch of the deep and are towing his vast bulk to their respective vessels.
The flats engaged in this service were the Hornet, Jones; the Waterlooo, Ellis; the Cossack, Thomas; and the Peggy, Evans, with a complement of about forty men, every man of whom to their praise, be it spoken, emulated their captains in exerting themselves like Ancient Britons.
The expense of raising the vessel must be considerable, but there is a certainty that the spirited enterprisers will be amply recompensed for all that it must have cost them.
We understand that hundreds of persons have been to visit the wreck.
The Mountaineer was transported to Chester where she was rebuilt.
Much of her wooden work and her engines were found to be servicible
after nearly 2 years under water. She was put back in service in 1846
and used around the coast of Britain. Eventually she was sold to
Canadian interests, but her passage across the Atlantic was very slow
because of machinery malfunctions and she relied on sail. She
eventually ran aground off the Grand Banks, near Kitty Hawk, on 25
December 1852. Here her wreckage remains.
For details see here and here.
From the Newspaper American Beacon, Norfolk Va., dated Wed. December 29 1852
The Br. Steamer Mountaineer, of and from Liverpool for New Brunswick via Nassau, N. P. Stickney, master, went ashore on the 25th last about 20 miles south Currituck Inlet and soon became a total wreck - all aboard saved. She was an old steamer and had been lately purchased by a lumber company in N.B., as a tug and stock boat, and was 196 tons, English measurement. Her machinery was detached [disconnected] before sailing and the hull brig rigged. She was 30 days from Nassau. It was the intention of the Captain to put into Hampton Roads or New York to have her machinery put in order and then to proceed under steam to his port of destination. The crew arrived here yesterday - The captain and his wife will remain on the beach until the wreck is sold. [Currituck Inlet was 4-5 miles south of Knotts Island at that date, it has now closed up]