So I came across this neat old postcard in the online Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs collection at SMU. It’s dated 1911, and shows a small motor excursion boat, Priscilla, well-loaded with both bowler-hatted passengers (all male, it appears) and kegs of — something. Write your own caption for that one.
What particularly caught my eye, though, was the large cargo steamer at right. City of Tampico was a 1,513-ton freighter completed in August 1905 at Bergen, Norway. She was 256 feet (78.1m) long, and 36.7 feet (11.2m) in beam. She was operated by Harloff & Rodseth and, as her name suggests, spent much on her career running between U.S. and Mexican posts in the Gulf of Mexico. City of Tampico appears regularly in local, Galveston papers as calling either there or at nearby Texas City, as shown in the postcard. There’s even a mention of her in March 1911 across the channel at Port Bolivar, loading a cargo of railroad ties, cut and creosoted in East Texas or Louisiana, for use in railroad-building in Mexico.
The photo on the postcard was probably taken in January 1911. The Galveston Daily News of January 11 identifies both City of Tampico and the much larger British steamer Magician in Texas City on that date. Magician was a 5,065-ton steamer operated by the Charente Steamship Company of Liverpool. She’d been launched by Workman Clarke of Belfast in 1896, was 400 feet (121.9m) long with a beam of 47 feet (14.3m).
Both ships met hard ends. Magician was sold to Japanese interests in 1922, becoming in turn Magician Maru and Keigi Maru. In March 1923 she ran aground on Black Rock, Arena Island in the Sulu Sea (extreme southwest Philippines). From the Sydney Morning Herald, April 18, 1923:
The Japanese steamer Keigi Maru, which went ashore on Arena Island, in the Sulu Sea, at the end of last month, is now reported to be a total wreck.
The Keigi Maru left Kobe on March 18 for Sydney, but struck on Arena Island, and both forward jolds and the engine-room were flooded, there being 5ft of water in the forward part of the steamer. It was reported in Sydney last week that the steamer had been refloats, but this was apparently incorrect, for a message received yesterday by the Marine Underwriter’s and Salvage Association stated that salvage was hopeless.
The Keigi Maru is a steel steamer of 5187 tons gross register, and was built at Belfast in 1896 by Workman, Clarke and Co., Ltd., and is owned by the Hinode Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha.
City of Tampico met her end on January 16, 1917 when, carrying coal from the United Kingdom to the French port of Nantes, she was sunk about 5 miles south-southeast of Penmarch, France. There were no fatalities in the sinking, and she settled in about 75m (250 feet) of water. Her attacker, the German coastal mine-laying U-boat UC 18, was herself sunk (with no survivors) just over a month later.