The Loss

Headline from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the day after the wreck. (November 18, 1906), Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p. 1

In November 1906, the Dix began a six month charter on behalf of the Port Blakely Mill. Located on Bainbridge Island, the Mill hoped the Dix could provide relief for their inland steamer the SS Monticello on its route from Port Blakely to Seattle. However, only a few weeks into that charter, tragedy struck the SS Dix.

While en route for Port Blakely, the SS Dix collided with the SS Jeanie. The Jeanie, a 1,071-ton, 186-foot, three-masted steam schooner, was making its way to a smelter in Tacoma with 400 tons of iron ore. Captain Philip H. Mason of the Jeanie saw the two vessels were on a collision course and began to slow down and reverse engines minutes ahead of time. Meanwhile, on the Dix, Captain Percy A. Lermond had left First Officer Charles Dennison at the helm while he collected fares. Unfortunately, Dennison did not see that wreck was imminent until the last moment and when he did he put the Dix directly in the path of the Jeanie.

Due to the Jeanie’s large size, the ensuing collision caused the top heavy Dix to heel sharply over onto its port side. The ship then filled with water, rolled over, and in mere minutes sank to the bottom of Puget Sound. The vessel flung passengers on the upper deck into the sound who were then scooped up by either the Jeanie or later relief vessels. Unfortunately, 39 passengers in the lower levels did not make it to the top deck and so rescuers could not save them. The loss rocked local communities and sent shockwaves around the world.

The SS Jeanie, ca. 1899. Photo by Eric A. Hegg, UW Special Collections (693B)