The Lake George steamer Sagamore may hold a unique record. At 224 feet and able to carry 1,500 passengers, the Sagamore was largest of the steamboats plying the lake for the Champlain Transportation Company – it also had a dubious record of groundings and collisions.
This Sagamore story starts oddly enough, in a rescue attempt. On October 23rd, 1909 the steamer Mohican ran aground at Hulett’s Landing, on the west side of Lake George north of Black Mountain Point.
It was late in the season, in fact the Mohican was the only boat running the lake, so Sagamore was brought from her winter quarters and manned by a crew from the shipyard at Burlington. It arrived at the scene at mid-day and lines were strung to the Mohican, but just as the steam was put on and the line went taunt, the ropes snapped and the Sagamore was driven aground too.
The Horicon was then needed to drag both boats from the shoal. Three years later it was the Horicon again who came to the rescue when the Sagamore was run aground in the sands of Hague Bar during the night of August 11, 1912. The passengers got off safely by small boats, but the Horicon broke its hawser lines and anchor chains trying to pull Sagamore free the next day.
The Sagamore next got into trouble on July 6, 1920. Maude and Florence Leavey of Hudson Falls were in a rowboat in Kaatskill Bay with two friends, identified in newspapers at the time as Mrs. Alexander Duflow and Mrs. Edward Mullowney, both of Brooklyn.
Somehow they found themselves in the path of the Sagamore and with the Leaveys at the oars, rowed for their lives, just barely missing being hit by the ship’s bow. They didn’t get past the paddlewheel however, and it smashed the boat to bits and threw the women into the water.
Duflow and Mullownewy couldn’t swim and drowned almost immediately. The Leavey sisters kept themselves afloat and were rescued, frightened and exhausted, by several men in rowboats who had seen the accident from the shore at Cleverdale.
Photos, from above: Lake George steamboat Sagamore passing Cleverdale; and Sagamore ashore at Glenburnie in 1927.