Bangor, ME Woodsmen Drown when Motorboat Catches Fire, Nov 1920


Motorboat on Chesuncook Lake Takes Fire and They Tried to Swim to Shore.

BANGOR, Me., Nov. 19--Sixteen woodsmen were drowned in Chesuncook Lake, in the heart of the lumbering district, late yesterday afternoon when a motorboat took fire. The men were being taken across the lake from Chesuncook Dam to Cuxabesis.

Efforts to extinguish the fire failing, the party became panic-stricken and many leaped overboard, according to word brought here today. The icy water soon exhausted those who tried to escape by swimming, and all of them are believed to have lost their lives. About half the crew remained with the boat, and, although they were forced to drop overboard after the engine stopped, they clung to the side of the craft until it was blown shoreward by the strong wind.

The boat drifted against a mass of stumps which protruded above the water and these served as isles of safety for the men until they were rescued by crews from neighboring lumber camps and village folks who had seen the flames from a distance.

Seventeen in all are believed to have been saved. Some of these, however, were reported in a serious condition from exposure.

When word was sent here seven bodies had been removed, of which four had been identified. They were John Zorrill, P. C. McCaul and John McDowell, all of Notham, P.E.I., and Arthur O'Connor, residence unknown.

Because of the large number of lumbermen being sent into the woods at this season it was said that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to learn the names of the missing ones, except through identification of bodies recovered.

The New York Times, New York, NY 20 Nov 1920