Sinking of the H. K Bedford

Daily State Journal
February 28, 1912

Steamer H. K. Bedford Sunk Near Waverly

Capt. Kraft And Crew Narrowly Escaped With Their Lives

The Boat With A Heavy Cargo Will Probably Be A Total Loss

Directly In Path of Allegheny Ice And Will Be Cut To Pieces

The steamer H. K. Bedford, owned by the Pittsburgh and Parkersbug Packet Company and operated between Parkersburg and Pittsburgh, was sunk in the Ohio river at the Ralph Beam Landing, two miles below Waverly, this county, shortly before midnight Tuesday night. Captain Henry Kraft, of Belpre, who was commanding the craft with some of the members of the crew who were asleep at the time of the accident had a narrow escape from being drowned. The boat sunk to her boiler deck and now lies out in the stream toward the Ohio side directly in the path of the Allegheny river ice which will begin to strike her some time Wednesday evening or night. Rivermen say that the boat will be a total loss. The Bedford was heavily loaded having over a hundred tons of valuable freight on her all of which will be lost. The total loss will probably reached [sic] fourteen or fifteen thousand dollars. The boat herself is worth in the neighborhood of from ten to twelve thousand dollar[s].

Being directly in the path of the Allegheny ice and with the river rising rapidly there is absolutely no chance of saving the boat. She is sunk to her boiler and the ice will cut her cabin off, riddle the machinery and cut her to pieces. In the judgment of river men who were consulted regarding the accident there will be no salvage whatever.

The Bedfor left Parkersburg Tuesday afternoon about two o'clock on her first trip to Pittsburgh since the closing of navigation several weeks ago. The boat had been lying in the ice harbor in the mouth of the Kanawha river here all of the time the river was closed and it was decided to leave here for Pittsburgh on her regular schedule. Accordingly after taking on considerable freight here she proceeded on to Marietta where a heavy cargo was taken aboard. When she left Marietta the boat had over a hundred ton of freight on her including a large amount of live stock, and other very valuable freight in the shape of groceries, etc.

The boat sprung a leak very suddenly and without giving member of the crew any warning. When it was discovered that the boat was sinking the members of the night watch awakened Captain Kraft and others who were asleep on the boat and they made an escape. Captain Kraft had a narrow escape from going down with the boat. The crew consisted of eleven men besides Captain Kraft. Although reports were circulated to the effect that some of the men were drowned this was unfounded.

The Bedford was owned and operated by the Pittsburgh and Parkersburg Packet Company. The heaviest stockholders in the company and the men who were really the owners it is understood are Fred Kemble, of Moundsville; Captain Henry Kraft, who was in charge of the boat and E. R. Potts, of Moundsville. It is understood that the boat was insured so that the loss will not be a total one.

Although nothing definite was learned regarding the cause of the accident it is not believed to have been caused by ice stoving in the hull. It is thought that the heavy cargo on the boat caused her seams to suddenly open up. She is lying toward the Ohio shore directly in the path of the Allegheny river ice which is expected to begin passing the point where the boat is some time Wednesday evening.

The Bedford is an old boat and has been running for a great many years in the Parkersburg and Pittsburgh rade. She did a good business not having any direct opposition in this particular trade since the steamer Bessie Smith left Ohio river waters two or three years ago.

According to additional reports received here Wednesday afternoon from Waverly there were a number of passengers on the boat including women and children and they had some exciting experiences. The passengers were all asleep at the time the warning was given and they got together their belongings as best they could and prepared to make an escape. Some were in their night garments when they reached the deck. One lady is reported to have jumped down upon the floating ice and was injured.

The heroic work of Captain Kraft and the members of his crew saved the women and children. One baby was thrown to a passenger who had gotten into a small boat and luckily he caught the child. One lady who escaped from the boat in her night garments was wrapped up in coats and overcoats and carried about a mile to the nearest house. She was unconscious and nearly frozen when she was gotten to the house but later was revived. It was a very narrow escape for all on the boat and it is exceedingly fortunate that the accident did not result in the loss of lives.