On Sept. 1, 1905, the Pretoria took on a cargo of iron ore at the Allouez docks in Superior, Wisconsin. The weather forecast was favorable, so late that morning the schooner-barge left Superior in tow of the steamer Venezuela, which also was carrying a heavy cargo of ore. Their intended destination was South Chicago. On the Great Lakes, serious storms are rare in late summer, but conditions on Lake Superior turned ugly that evening. By early the following morning, ships all across the lake were in trouble. At 5:15 a.m. the steel steamer Sevona hit Sand Island Shoal and broke apart, causing many casualties. The Pretoria and Venezuela were navigating rough seas 30 miles northeast of Outer Island around 7:30 a.m. when the Pretoria's steering gear failed. Capt. Charles Smart signaled the Venezuela, and the Venezuela attempted to shift the Pretoria's course back toward the shelter of the Apostle Islands -- but the towline connecting the heavy surging vessels parted at both ends and fell into the lake. Even if the Venezuela had successfully turned the Pretoria, it would have been extremely difficult to control the disabled vessel in the heavy following seas . The Venezuela soon lost sight of the Pretoria. After an unsuccessful search, the steamer sought shelter in the Ashland, Wisconsin, harbor and reported the Pretoria missing. Despite the ferocity of the storm, few people were worried about the strongly built vessel. However, the Pretoria was powerless. The crew managed to raise a single sail on the foremast , but it rapidly came apart and left the schooner-barge drifting toward Outer Island as it wallowed in the troughs of large waves. The wind and waves blew the fully loaded Pretoria, probably sideways, across the lake at an average rate of 3 to 4 miles per hour. Huge waves pounded the Pretoria's flat sides, smashed against its bulwarks and cabins , and crashed down on its decks and hatches . The pumps gave out - perhaps the heavy seas drowned the fire in the donkey boiler and stalled the machinery. The lake slowly tore the ship apart. At some point, someone dropped the anchor, but it did not catch until about 2:30 p.m., when the ship was about 1.5 miles off Outer Island. Soon water was coming in through the hatch coamings and forcing off some of the hatches. About an hour and a half later, with the hold flooding, the covering board giving way and sections of the deck tearing off, Capt. Smart and his nine-member crew took to the lifeboat in an attempt to reach the island. As they neared shore, the lifeboat capsized in the surf, throwing the men 10 feet in the air and drowning five of them.