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Learn More About The Philo Scoville Disaster

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Philo Scoville DIsaster
Photo Credit: Stuart Seldon @ Wetspot Images

Near Russell Island, the Philo Scoville was trapped in a severe wind. Her rigging collapsed when she was forced to jibe to clear Russel Island, leaving her unable to maneuver. Captain O’Grady ordered the Scoville’s anchors to be lowered, and after dragging for a while, the Scoville came to a stop only 20 to 30 feet from the beach. She stayed in this position all night. The Captain ordered the anchor lines slackened in the morning so the crew may jump to safety, but he was swept away by a wave, drowned, and crushed between the ship and the rocks.

Phil Scoville is currently lying on a steep incline ranging from 20′ to 80′. The anchors are out in the middle of the channel.

Sea to Sky


On Oct. 6 1889 the Detroit schooner PHILO SCOVILLE bound from Collingwood to Escanaba, Michigan, light, was overwhelmed by a northeast gale as she entered MacGregor Channel. She was soon blown into the rocks on the north shore of Russel Island, a short distance west of the wreck of the NELLIE SHERWOOD.

When Captain John O’Grady tried to get ashore he fell into the water and was crushed to death between the vessel and the rocks. The balance of the crew was taken off by a life-saving party from Tobermory and was later conveyed to Owen Sound on the tug DOUGLASS with the body of their unfortunate master. 

At Russel Island, the weather closed in. The schooner PHILO SCOVILLE has been abandoned by the underwriters. The last reports represented her condition as hopeless. She quickly broke up and sank in deep water. 

The PHILO SCOVILLE was launched by Quayle & Martin at Cleveland on Aug. 18, 1863. In 1881 she was sold to a Canadian, H.M. Cook, and was registered at Collingwood. At that time her name was changed to MIDLAND ROVER (Can. #71120). About 1886 she was sold back into the United States registry and resumed her original name and number. 

Owen Sound Advertiser  October 17, 1889 

Philo Scoville DIsaster
Photo Credit: Stuart Seldon @ Wetspots Images

Photos Reproduced With Permission From Stuart Seldon of Wetspots Images


La Galigo

About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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