Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Staff Review by Patricia Covley:
Disaster on Lake Erie is a recent addition to the local history collections of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. Oickle tells the story of the steamship Erie, one of the fastest and most elegant ships sailing between Buffalo and Chicago. It was a large ship – over 176 ft. long and about 27 ft. wide.
On August 9, 1841, the Erie departed Buffalo carrying 343 passengers. Many of these passengers were recent immigrants who were looking forward to starting new lives in the Midwest. It was a windy day and many of the passengers were in their berths with seasickness. In the early evening, there was “a slight explosion, a hissing sound and a cry of ‘Fire!'” Within minutes 254 lives were lost.
Alvin Oickle offers a minute-by-minute account of the disaster. His use of first person accounts gives the reader insight as to what it was like to be part of this disaster. Anyone interested in the history of Lake Erie will be fascinated by this book.
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