The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 250: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, August-October, 1918. Page: 13
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THE MARY B. CURTIS
IMary B. Curtis and the Ellis. The collision occurred in the Sabine-
Neches Canal, at the point where it is intersected by the Neches river.
The dredge was moored to the bank of the canal. The day of the col-
lision being Sunday, no dredging had been done on that day, but some
incidental work, preparatory to the next week's work, had been done
on Sunday morning, preceding the time of the collision. The dredge
was engaged in deepening the channel of the canal for the United States
government. The channel of the canal, at the point of the collision,
was about 200 feet wide. The tow and its tugs were proceeding down
the canal, and had to cross the Neches river before reaching the place
where the dredge was moored to the bank of the canal. As the tugs
and their tow approached the Neches river, they signaled the dredge,
to attract the attention of its crew to the approach of the fleet. After
attracting the dredge's attention, the evidence tends to show that the
dredge sounded two whistles which the tugs claim was an invitation or
permission for them to proceed and pass the dredge. Those on the
dredge claim that one of the tugs gave the two-whistle signal, and that
the dredge merely answered it with a like signal, which was only an ac-
knowledgment of the tug's notice that it was about to pass. The fleet
thereupon proceeded down the canal across the river and past the
The evidence is in hopeless conflict as to the course of the fleet. The
evidence of the appellants was to the effect that the fleet took a cir-
cuitous course, made necessary by the current and wind, from the point
where it was signaled to pass the dredge; while that of the appellee,
the Bowers Southern Dredging Company, is to the effect that fleet took
a direct course from that point to the dredge. It is undisputed that
the proper course to avoid collision with the dredge, and at the same
time to avoid going ashore in shoal water at the intersection of the
river and the canal, opposite to where the dredge was moored, was the
circuitous, and not the direct, course. The evidence is also in sharp
conflict as to the position of the dredge with reference to the bank of
the canal to which it was moored. The evidence of the appellants is to
the effect that the stern of the dredge was 110 feet from the bank of the
canal, leaving the width of the channel beyond the dredge but 90 feet.
On the other hand, the evidence of the appellee, the dredge company,
was to the effect that prior to the collision, but on the same morning,
the tug Juno, in charge of the barge Pettibone passed the dredge in its
progress through the canal, and that the dredge, to give the tug and its
tow ample room for passage, was pulled up close to the bank of the
canal, to which it was moored, and that it remained in this position,
hugging the bank, until the collision.
There was also a dispute as to whether the dredge had a right to oc-
cupy the position in the canal in which it was moored, in view of the
fact that it was not engaged in dredging on the day of the collision. As
the fleet approached the dredge and reached the canal, after having
crossed the river, it got into shoal water, and this made navigation
difficult. In order to avoid collision with the dredge, the engines of the
tug Ellis, the smaller of the two tugs, were reversed, and, this failing
to arrest the progress of the fleet towards the dredge, the engines of the
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The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 250: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, August-October, 1918., legislative document, 1918; Saint Paul, Minnesota. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38821/m1/28/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.