November 26, 1898 | 5:30 p.m.

The Portland Steam Packet Co. general manager, John F. Liscomb, telephones from Portland and speaks with Boston agent of the line C.F. Williams. Captain Blanchard cannot be found at the time. Liscomb allegedly tells Williams to instruct Captain Blanchard to hold the Portland at its dock until nine p.m. and to not sail if the weather gets worse.


November 27, 1898 | 11:00 p.m.

Large quantities of wreckage from the Portland begin to wash ashore including doors, mattresses, light bulbs, chairs, and wooden panels. The wreckage is concentrated on the beach between the Race Point and Peaked Hill Bars Life Saving Stations.

November 29, 1898 | 11:00 a.m.

Charles Ward arrives in Boston and makes his way through the snow bound streets to the office of the Boston Herald. He is physically exhausted from his strenuous and lengthy trip. He manages to tell the editor of the Herald that the Portland has been wrecked on Peaked Hill Bars and that all aboard are thought to have perished before he loses consciousness.


December 1, 1898

Boston Globe reporter Frank Stayan had spent the previous days in Orleans combing the beach for information that would help identify the bodies washing ashore. Although almost forty bodies had been recovered at this time only fourteen had been positively identified. Stayan wants to get the names of those positively identified to his editor but is unable to make his report to the Globe because another storm has cut all the telegraph lines. Stayan walks to one of the few buildings in the town that has its lights on. By chance he has stumbled upon a relay station of the French Cable that conveys messages from New York to France. Desperate to get his story to the Globe Stayan asks the telegraph operator if he can send a message to Boston? The man tells him the line runs under the Atlantic to France but does not touch Boston. The operator, however, is able to send a message to Brest, France. From there the message is sent to London. From London the message is sent along British Postal Service lines to Ireland, and then along another trans-Atlantic cable to Canso, Nova Scotia. From there the message is sent down the coast of New England to Boston. Hence the first positive identification of the Portland’s passengers travels thousands of miles in mere seconds and arrives in Boston which is less then one hundred miles away.