Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Southern Michigan (Steamboat), 11 May 1852
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LAUNCH. -- One of Edward's new boats for the Southern Michigan Rail Road Company was launched at the yard of Bidwell & Banta, this noon.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Saturday, February 7, 1852

      THE " SOUTHERN MICHIGAN." - This magnificent steamer is just receiving the finishing touches from the hands of the painters and upholsters. Her engine is almost in running order, and by Saturday night it is intended to have her ready to make a trial trip. On Tuesday she takes her place in the line between this place and Monroe, when from what we can see in progress in the way of decoration and arrangement, she will be found quite ahead of any craft on the western waters.
      The " NORTHERN INDIANA " and the " SOUTHERN MICHIGAN " are both precisely alike as to size, model, and everything, except a slight difference in the arches with which they are braced. The NORTHERN INDIANA will follow the SOUTHERN MICHIGAN in the Line in about ten days. They are both built by Bidwell & Banta for Captain Edwards, of Trenton, Michigan, and are chartered for the season by the Michigan Southern Railroad.
      The boats are each three hundred and ten feet in length, being five feet shorter than the EMPIRE STATE, thirty-seven and a half feet beam, sixty-four feet over the guards and thirteen and a half feet deep in the hold. Their model is designed for speed, being sharper than any others on the lakes. The wheels are thirty-six feet, with ten feet buckets. They have each three cabins for first class passengers. The upper or main cabins are two hundred and forty eight feet long, with the machinery in the centre, as is usual, with state room opening from them on each side. The ladies' cabins are on the main deck aft, each seventy-two feet in length, with three tiers of berths on each side, shut off from the saloon by handsome curtains which hang between rows of pillars some two feet from the front of the berths.
      The Dining Saloons are below the decks, and measure about ninety feet in length by twenty feet across. They will seat about three hundred guests at a table at once. The sides are fitted up with handsomely curtained berths. Adjoining this room are the pantries, closets, &c., for the convenience of feeding the passengers. The kitchens are on the upper deck.
      The State Rooms are large and commodious and well ventilated, and about twenty five of them have, instead of berths, a handsome bedstead, richly canopied. The arrangements will provide for the sleeping of about three hundred and fifty passengers on each boat.
      The painting is done in the richest style by Mr. James Smith, and the cabin are about as fine specimens of tasteful workmanship in that line as can be seen anywhere. The cabins are to be richly carpeted with velvet tapestry from the extensive store of Merrill & McEwen, and the furniture, which costs about ten thousand dollars for each boat, is from the manufactory of Hersee & Timmerman. It is all of rosewood, much of it richly carved, and covered with the handsomest cloth used for that purpose.
      The engines are from the Morgan Works, New York, seventy-two and one-half inch cylinder, with twelve feet stroke, with walking-beam, and are intended to make twenty-five revolutions per minute. All the machinery is massive and apparently strong as iron can be. The boilers which are much larger than those of any boats before running on the lakes, are from the shop of S. Shepard. The are furnished with blowers for burning hard coal.
      The SOUTHERN MICHIGAN is to be under the command of Capt. A.D. Perkins, and her consort is to be commanded by Capt. Robt. Wagstaff, both highly popular men on the lakes---and with the EMPIRE STATE, Capt. Van Allen, will form a line which is destined to be a favorite one for the travel between Chicago and this city.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Tuesday, May 11, 1852

      . . . . .

THE SOUTHERN MICHIGAN. - This magnificent new steamer, which will certainly sustain the claim of our city to the palm for building the finest steam vessels on any waters, left last evening on her first trip, for Toledo with a large number of passengers. She made a trial trip yesterday of two hours, in which all on board were convinced that she will prove one of the fleetest, if not the fastest boat on our waters. Wh have not time to say more this evening, but would just intimate to those who admire handsome boats, that they will have an opportunity when the SOUTHERN MICHIGAN returns here, which will be on Saturday next. Buffalo may well be proud of her.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Thursday, May 20, 1852

      . . . . .

STEAMER SOUTHERN MICHIGAN. -- In connection with a detailed description of Messrs. Bidwell, Banta & Co.'s extensive ship-yard, given a short time since in our columns, the attention of our readers was called to the two beautiful steamers building at that time at this yard, by Capt. Arthur Edward, for the Michigan Southern Railroad Company. We have now to call attention to a more minute account of one of them, which has been finished and took her place In the line yesterday, the steamer "Southern Michigan." We will again give her dimensions and capacity -- her length is 310 feet; breadth beam 37 feet; depth of hold 13 ½ feet, and is of 1,500 tons Burthen. In model, she bears the palm from any craft afloat on the Western waters; her easy and graceful hull; elegantly proportioned bows; and the trim and staunch manner in which she floats, has called forth the admiration of all who have seen her. Her main deck is spacious and airy and in main after the style of other steamers on the lake, with one exception perhaps, the whole deck is free from stanchions, the upper floor being fastened and sustained by the arches, being quite an improvement, thereby giving more room, and giving an unobstructed view through the whole deck. The engine, which occupies a great share of the main deck midships, is from the Morgan Iron Work, New York, and is of one thousand horse power, and the most thoroughly built and accurate piece of machinery ever put in a western boat. Its putting up was superintended by Mr. Collins, and its trial yesterday proved it every way worthy the name of its builders.- The hold, forward, is devoted to an airy and commodious steerage cabin, containing some one hundred berths, all of which are to be furnished with mattresses, another improvement upon other steamers on the lake. In the after part of the vessel below, we find a large dining saloon, capable of seating with ease some two hundred guests, and should occasion require, a larger number, which obviates the confusion, bustle and inconvenience attending the arranging of tables in the upper saloon; and to this room the eating arrangements are to be exclusively confined. In this saloon we find sleeping arrangements for some 70 or 80 passengers, in the way of berths along the sides, after the plan of the Hudson River steamers. This room has every facility for light and air, and is in every way most comfortable. From this saloon we ascend by a winding stair-case to the Ladies Drawing Saloon in the upper cabin. Here the eye rests upon the most beautifully molded cornices, the most tastefully decorated paneling, and richly ornamented stained glass canopy above altogether the most elegantly and highly finished saloon we ever saw on any steamer on our lakes, for all of which the builders are indebted to the exquisite taste and good judgment of Mr. John Bidwell, joiner, and Mr. Jas. Smith, painter, to whom, in fact, the whole boat is indebted for its embellishments. The carpets are of the most costly type, being the best English velvet tapestry of handsome figure. These were from the extensive establishment of Merrill & McEwen. Next in order come the cabinet furniture, which entirely surpasses anything of the kind in this section. The whole room is filled with rosewood tete-a-tetes, divans and lounges of the most exquisite and delicate workmanship, upholstered with the newest and most expensive styles of blue, orange, crimson and white brocatelle-- here and there we find a conversation chair, highly finished and trimmed with beautifully figured moquette goods; a magnificent piano from the manufactory of Boardman & Gray, Albany, forms a prominent feature among the vast quantity of furniture interspersed throughout the saloon. In the afterpart of this cabin has been constructed a species of rotunda - something new in the architecture of cabins. A magnificent mirror is to occupy a share of the wall, which has been got up expressly for this boat. The state-rooms on the Ladies Saloon are all furnished with rose-wood bedsteads, draperied with fine muslin, and the rooms are furnished with all the necessary accoutrements belonging to them. The magnificent furniture which is everywhere to be seen on this vessel is from the extensive establishment of Messrs. Hersee & Timmerman, whose specimens of cabinet work are to be seen on most of our steamers, and for which they are daily acquiring a fame held by few workmen in western New York. The whole arrangement and construction of the furniture of this vessel has received the special supervision of Messrs. H. & T., and has been got up with the most excellent taste, and all the rich good, which deck the various chairs and divans were selected by Mr. H. himself without regard to expense. Four bridal State-rooms, 18 feet in length by 7½ in breadth, are attached to the boat, which are most superbly fitted up, with all the most modern improvements in decoration and furniture. The bedsteads are of highly finished rosewood, covered elegant tent draperies of white and gold satin damask and broad lace; the windows are hung with curtainings of a similar quality, surmounted with richly embossed gilt cornnices; the furniture is also in entire keeping with the rest, the whole reminding one of the magnificent boudoirs of the East. The rich and heavy draperies which adorn the various state-rooms were all cut, fashioned and hung by the steward of the boat, Mr. W. Rowley, a gentleman who, though partially unknown in this section, brings with him from Lake Ontario, the most complimentary and deserving testimonials, and we must say that the exhibitions of taste he has displayed In the arrangement of all the furniture and the fitting up of the rooms, stamp him as one in every way worthy of the enviable place he holds. We now leave this portion of the boat and pass forward to the gentlemen's saloon, which is likewise furnished in the most neat and finished manner, but at less expense, the upholstery being done in crimson plush and the carpets of rich Brussels. It is airy, commodious and most comfortable and attractive in appearance. It is likewise lined with State-rooms, fitted up in excellent taste and neatness. The two saloons are hung with chandeliers from the establishment of W.H. Glenny, of this city, by whom also all the crockery was furnished. The whole sleeping apartments of the boat are calculated to accommodate about 400 passengers with the utmost ease. We cannot pass without stating that all engaged on the boat, officers, and crew, have been untiring in their exertions to bring the magnificent vessel to a completion and have faithfully watched her every step of progress, and are now reaping the reward of their labors in bring out the most perfect specimen of maritime architecture that ever floated on our Inland Waters. Her general appearance as she rides through the water is most graceful, and the pains taken in the fashioning of her hull, and the building of her engine, which, by-the-way, is to be under the command of Geo. W. Reed, an engineer who is well known for his efficiency, than whom no better selection could have been made, must render her the fleetest on the lakes, as well as the pride of her builders, owners and our city.
Of him who is to command this noble vessel, Capt. A.D. Perkins, we would merely say -- he is an old and tried officer on our lakes, one who has won a high place in the confidence of the public, and in him the owners have chosen a most excellent man, and one who cannot fail to bring his boat into the highest favor. The Clerk, Mr. S. D. Rucker, is fully competent for the post; likewise Mr. Foreman, as first mate, in every way capable to discharge the arduous duties of his berth.
      We would close, therefore, by wishing the splendid boat, her projectors and her worthy crew, every success.
      Buffalo Daily Republic
      Thursday, May 20, 1852

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William R. McNeil
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Southern Michigan (Steamboat), 11 May 1852