CONESUS – Community conversation is stirring up more local history than ever about the locally famous wrecked steamboat at the bottom of Conesus Lake that again made headlines this week.
Lore DiSalvo, Avon resident and contributor to conesuslakeny.org, a community information website about Conesus Lake, contacted the GeneseeSun.com with corrections to the stories that have been circulating about this lost relic of the lake.
“The ‘McPherson’ was the largest steamboat to ever grace Conesus Lake, named after Colonel James A. McPherson, of Avon who served in the union army,” said DiSalvo. “He had the steamer built in 1882 for a cost of $7,000. It was built in Lakeville by Sam Kingston of Rochester and John Miller. In 1889, the steamer had new owners, Edwin Sackett and Grant Northrup, who renamed her ‘Starrucca,’ after the Erie viaduct.”
DiSalvo added that the steamer was 120 feet long, with a beam of 22 feet, 3 decks that were later changed to 2 decks, and a 100 horse power engine capable of carrying 1,000 passengers, but the ship was known to overload to 1,400 passengers. The steamer required a six-man crew, with the pilot house on the second deck.
Divers have been poking around in the wreckage for generations, but according to lake residents, the deep ice from this past winter has pushed parts of the old steamship out of the sludge and they are being brought to shore.
A captain of the boat, William Keays, was awarded the ‘Lincoln’s Avenger’ medal for commanding the soldiers that captured and killed Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.