Monday, January 9, 2012

Maritime Monday - The Titanic of New England

On November 26, 1898, the steamship Portland left Boston on a regular run to Portland.  She sank in the famous "Portland Gale," a fierce blizzard off the New England coast, taking with her 176 passengers and crew, including my Leighton ancestor, Diana Gilbert Leighton (1829-1898). 

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Above caption reads: This was probably the last picture made of the steamship, Portland, which sank Nov. 27, 1898, with all hands. Les Jones wasn't around at the time, but while covering the busy waterfront he was allowed to copy this rare photograph.  The photograph is not reversed - the name over the sidewheels is correct, but the ensign has letters sewn on one side only.

The Boston Herald, of course, covered the disaster thoroughly, and published lists of victims, like the one on December 2nd, where Diana Leighton's name appears.

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Diana Gilbert, wife of  my 1st Cousin 4x Removed, Enos Leighton.
West Cumberland United Methodist Cemetery, West Cumberland, Maine

If you are as fascinated by storms and shipwreck stories as I am, I know you would enjoy the following:

Four Short Blasts: The Great Gale of 1898 and the Loss of the Steamer Portland, by Peter Dow Batchelder and Mason Philip Smith, 1998, and the following websites:



  1. Wow, I remember reading about the Portland in one of Edward Rowe Snow's books. Great post, Pam!

  2. I can't image the perils of sailing back at the end of the 18th century. The small ship there hardly looks like it could have taken on very much of the bad weather off the New England coast. I have one ancestor of my own who was lost at sea.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets