Loss of the Fishing Schooner, Marion Rodgers

The Marion Rodgers was listed as 41 tons and was owned by Stephen and Robert Miller of New Bonaventure, about 13 miles southwest of the town of Trinity, Trinity Bay. The Marion Rodgers was in command of Captain William Hogarth of Trinity East and had a crew of six from the general area.

The Marion Rodgers left St. John’s in or around the early morning hours of November 27, 1938, destination Trinity. She carried a part cargo of provisions, plus one passenger who booked passage to Trinity on the night of November 27 or in the early morning hours of November 28.

The Marion Rodgers struck the rocks near Fort Point Lighthouse and became a total loss, taking all on board to a watery grave on the morning of November 28. Residents of Trinity and area discovered evidence of a shipwreck near the lighthouse at Fort Point, and soon other portions of the wreckage had drifted along the shoreline from Trinity to Champney’s Arm. So most people became aware that the wreckage was that of the Marion Rodgers, since that vessel was due to arrive in Trinity the previous night.

Captain Hogarth was a well seasoned seaman and was very familiar with that particular part of the coast and if he could not see the light beacon or hear the fog horn on Fort Point in obscure weather conditions, would have kept his vessel well off the land until day break, or weather conditions improved. Captain Hogarth certainly would not have risked his vessel and crew to come close to land in such bad weather conditions.

When the Marion Rodgers was crossing Trinity Bay, a heavy gale of wind sprang up and with blinding snow squalls. According to some local mariners, perhaps Captain Hogarth, during the strong winds and heavy squalls, did not see the light beacon or hear the fog horn on Fort Point – thinking he had ample sea room when, in fact, he had none.

It remains a mystery to this very day as to how a well-seasoned captain could cause his vessel to become wrecked literally underneath the lighthouse on Fort Point and only a couple of hundred feet from the entrance to Trinity harbour and home.

From the book “The Bonavista Peninsula:  Of Days Gone By” by Clayton D. Cook, published by Jeff Blackwood & Associates, 1999.

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