Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Alaska (Steamboat), U105798, 23 Jun 1878
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THE ALASKA. -- A new steamer 180' over all, 28' beam and 10' depth of hold, was launched
at Clark's yard at Detroit Thursday afternoon.
      Port Huron Daily Times

The new steamer ALASKA is fast approaching completion. Her sides have been lettered, and painters are a work upon the inside of her cabins. She will in all respects be one of the finest side-wheel steamers of her size that floats the Western Lakes. It is stated she will be a very fast boat. The engines were built by Fletcher, Harrison & Co., of New York, and were formerly in the government steamer JOHN SHERMAN. The ALASKA will be in command of Capt. Goldsmith, of the JAY COOKE, and will take her place on the route between Buffalo, Cleveland and Put-in-Bay about July 5.
      Detroit Free Press
      June 23, 1878

      The new and elegant side-wheel steamer ALASKA built by John P. Clark, of Springwells, will make her trial trip this afternoon. In general appearance the new steamer closely resembles the steamer JAY COOKE and PEARL, which were also built by Mr. Clark. The construction of her model, judging from appearance, aimed for speed and as far as can be learned from a survey of her lines has fully succeeded. The dimensions of the ALASKA are as follows: Length 163 feet 6 inches; breadth of beam, 23 feet 6 inches; depth of hold, 8 feet 6 inches. The engine was built in 1863 by Fletcher, Harrison & Co., of New York, and was formerly in the hull of the revenue cutter JOHN SHERMAN, which in her day of government duties, was credited with being one of the fastest steamers on the western lakes. From the exterior the new steamer presents a very fine appearance, her upper works and hull being painted in white with green streaks, and chalks trimmed in red. Inside the view is still more agreeable. Her main cabin is large and spacious, with twenty-nine staterooms opening on each side. The prevailing color is white, with trimmings of oiled cherry. The staterooms, clerk's office and the captain's rooms are large and well furnished. There are large ventilators over each stateroom door and other parts of the cabin. White frosted glass of check pattern separates the upper part of the cabin sides from the roof, allowing of a good light. The after cabin is likewise finely furnished, and has eight large staterooms opening out of it.
      Her main saloon is of commodious size and handsomely fitted up. Beside the furniture usually found in first class steamers, there are side seats arranged allowing for the accommodation of 100 persons or more. The saloon is lighted with lamps forming several large chandeliers. A Brussels carpet of unique pattern forms a covering for the floor. On one of the braces or bridges overhead in the forward part of the saloon is painted in large and tasty letters, the steamer's name. The staircase leading to the cabin, is in the aft part of the boat, and is somewhat winding, built of solid mahogany and finely constructed. The Clerk's and Steward's offices are on the lower deck. The pilot-house of the ALASKA is also a relic of the SHERMAN, as is also the smokestack. The boat is well equipped, having on board patent winches for handling anchor and other necessary purposes, four first-class life-boats, which are capable of seating twenty persons each, and life=preservers in each and every room.
      The ALASKA will be in command of Capt. Goldsmith, formerly of the JAY COOKE, who will take command of her on her first trip, when it is expected by all who have visited her that she will make fast time. She will be placed on her route next Thursday, between Buffalo, Cleveland and Put-In-Bay, and will be of excellent use in the excursion line between the above points.
      Detroit Free Press
      July 2, 1878

      THE ALASKA'S FIRST TRIP. - Mr. J.P. Clark's new steamer, the ALASKA, made her first trip yesterday afternoon, running to Lake Erie and return. Although the trip was not made to test her speed, she did, nevertheless, show beyond all doubts that there is speed in her. During the run the highest pressure indicated on the steam gauge was 39 pounds, and the average pressure 35 pounds. With amount she turned her wheels 21 turns a minute, and made the distance from abreast of Fort Wayne to Bois Blanc Light in 54 minutes, and in just 58 minutes from the time her lines were cast off at Mr. Clark's shipyard. The engine worked splendidly, and during the entire trip not a journal or bearing of any kind became hot, in the least. The boiler foamed somewhat, which prevented her from making steam freely, but of course that defect will be readily overcome. She cuts the water well, and does not throw it away from the hull, thereby preventing the wheels from getting a good hold. She steers easily, and when rounded to at the mouth of the river described a very short curve, and her list was scarcely perceptible. She is also free from heavy jarring. With 45 pounds
of steam, we venture the assertion, that any craft that catches her will do some lively running. Mr. Wray has not yet got the engine in such shape as he desires, but will have it all right in a day or two. If her outfit can be completed this forenoon, she will leave for Cleveland this afternoon. It is Mr. Clark's present intention to, when everything is in readiness, to run the boat for speed, and for all she will bear.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Wednesday, July 3, 1878

      . . . . .

      THE ALASKA. - The steamer ALASKA left Detroit for Cleveland yesterday afternoon, and tomorrow will commence running on the route between Put-in-Bay, Cleveland and Buffalo. For a couple of hours before leaving, she lay at the foot of Griswold Street, where she was visited by a large number of people. He upper cabin, having received all its furnishing, looked elegant. Forward were tables and chairs only, but aft there were luxurious sofas, upholstered chairs, large and costly mirrors, magnificent etageries, all of the favorite Queen Anne style. At the extreme after end of the cabin had been placed a large painting representing a winter scene in the frozen region, of which her name is a fitting reminder, and a cool one, especially in these days when the mercury is way up in the nineties, and a person heartily wishes he was in the land indicated by it.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Thursday, July 4, 1878

      . . . . .

The new steamer ALASKA, built by Mr. J.P. Clark to run with the PEARL between Buffalo and Put-in-Bay, touching at this port, is now finished, and arrived here this morning.
The ALASKA has, like all lake boats, three decks. The main cabin is 185 feet long and 35 feet wide, including state rooms. From the Detroit Free Press, from which these figures are taken, is condensed the following description of the steamer.
      There are twenty-six staterooms for passengers opening off from the main cabin, each six foot six inches square, well furnished, and with lambrequins in front of the berths. The extreme height of the cabins is eleven feet six inches.
      In finis, the cabin is plain, but its plainness is so becoming as to appear elegant. The sides are of panel wood, painted pure white, and relieved by cherry pilasters with caps, finished in oil. The trimmings on the doors are silver plated. Above the stateroom doors are small frame, set with cherry studding, turned, intended for ventilation. In the staterooms, the front of the bunks and other furnishings are of the same kind of wood. In the forward end of the forward cabin, and after end of the after cabin, are stationary settees built of cherry, pine and ash, and finished in the natural wood. The will be furnished with red plush cushions. The cabin floor, above and below, will be covered with body Brussels carpet. In the main cabin, forward and aft, there are semi-oval places, formed by the arch of the roof, on which it is intended at some time to paint landscape scenery.
      Outside the boat is painted white. The guards are painted green. On the wheel-house, the name "ALASKA" is pained in large scarlet letters, while around the top appears the name of the route she will run on: "Buffalo, Cleveland, and Put-in-Bay."
      The engines in the boat are those formerly in the revenue cutter JOHN SHERMAN, and, with the exception of those in the revenue cutter FESSENDEN, of which they are mates, have no equal on the lakes. They were built by Messrs. Fletcher, Harrison & Co., of New York, in 1865. They are of the low pressure condensing pattern, with forty-eight inch cylinder and nine feet stroke. Have brass lined air pumps, brass air-pump pistons, and brass force pump complete. The engines have registers, an indicator, thermometers, and all the attachments that are necessary to complete a first-class machine.
The boiler was built by John Brennan, of Detroit, and is twenty feet long and ten feet six inches in diameter of shell with twelve feet six inches fire box. It has seven main flues, and 122 four-and-one-half inch return tubes. The diameter of the paddle wheel is twenty-seven feet. Her capacity is 510-93 tons. Inside the paddle-wheel boxes are large tanks to supply water to the kitchen, pantry, washrooms, etc. These tanks are supplied with valves, so that when the boat enters the river at Cleveland, or Buffalo Creek, they can be shut, thus keeping the water in them fresh, without mingling with that of the rivers named.
      The cost of the boat complete will be about $60,000. She will be officered as follows: Captain, John Edwards, formerly of the PEARL; Clerk, William H. McFall, Jr.; Chief Engineer, William J. Wray; Steward, Alfred Robinson.
      Cleveland Herald
      July 4, 1878

      The following are the dimentions of the new Detroit steamer ALASKA; Length 171 feet; beam of hull 24 feet; depth 10 feet; width across main deck at widest part, 53 feet. The cost of the steamer was $60,000.
      Chicago Inter-Ocean
      July 6, 1878

Steam paddle ALASKA. U. S. No. 105798. Of 510.93 tons gross; 165.2 tons net. Built Detroit, Mich, 1878. Home port, Detroit, Mich. 165.2 x 29.0 x 10.6 Nominal horse power, 300.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1891
Detroit, May 7. -- The steamer ALASKA had her upper works badly scorched tonight. The damage will amount to several thousand dollars.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      May 8, 1889.
The steamer SAGINAW will be converted into a barge. Her machinery will be put into a steamer to be built on the hull of the ALASKA.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      June 19, 1889

Steam screw ALASKA. Official Canada No. 117174. Of 348 tons. Built Detroit 1878. 165 x 29 x 11. DISPOSITION:-- Ex U. S. until 1905. Burnt at Tobermory, Ont., Nov. 26, 1910.
      Preliminary List of Canadian Steam Vessels
      Inland & Coastal, 1809 to 1930

Steam Paddle ALASKA. U. S. No. 105798. Of 510 tons. Built at Detroit in 1878 by John P. Clark. 165.2 x 29.0 x 10.6 REMARKS :-- Dismantled 1890. Became a barge in 1891. Sold to Canada in 1906 as a Steam screw with Canada No. 117174.
      Herman Runge Notes { barge, may be steam barge ? )

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William R. McNeil
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Alaska (Steamboat), U105798, 23 Jun 1878