AQUARAMA, largest passenger ship of the lakes, is expected to take over the Milwaukee and Muskegon run of MILWAUKEE CLIPPER next season if the Milwaukee berth can be dredged to 24-foot depth. Wisconsin and Michigan Steamship Company’s executive vice-president, Mark McKee, announced in mid-November that MILWAUKEE CLIPPER is for sale, indicating that she would no longer run on the Great Lakes. Prospective buyers were not identified. The Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners has suggested that Milwaukee’s 1963 budget include authorization for a $700,000 dredging project covered by short-term notes or general obligation bonds. Sand Products Corp. owns both AQUARAMA and Wisconsin and Michigan Steamship Co. The Clipper Line considers MILWAUKEE CLIPPER too small and too slow to handle the summer trade, while railroad competition has forced it out of the new-car trade that kept MILWAUKEE CLIPPER busy in winter months. While AQUARAMA can carry 190 cars and 2,500 passengers on a 4 1/2-hour crossing of Lake Michigan, MILWAUKEE CLIPPER carries only 105 cars and 900 passengers in a 6 1/2-hour crossing. The transfer will be a rare occasion in recent history when an old passenger vessel has been replaced by a newer and larger one. AQUARAMA was brought to the Lakes in 1953 reportedly with Lake Michigan service in mind when she was converted from the C-4 class vessel MARINE STAR. She has spent six seasons in reviving Detroit and Cleveland service, which presumably will now be abandoned once again.
MILWAUKEE CLIPPER has an illustrious lake career behind her. she was built by American Shipbuilding Company at Cleveland in 1905 as JUNIATA for Anchor line service between Buffalo and Duluth in connection with Pennsylvania Railroad. JUNIATA was one of three Lake Superior sisters of the Anchor Line, including TIONESTA of 1903 and OCTORARA of 1910, all designed by Frank E. Kirby. JUNIATA was 346 feet long, with 45 feet beam, and originally carried staterooms on two full decks, a third deck being added topside later in her career. After 1915 JUNIATA joined other ships from U. S. railroad-sponsored package freight fleets in forming the Great Lakes Transit Corp., and remained in Anchor Line service to Lake Superior until thp late thirties. After being idle for several years, JUNIATA and CCT0RARA went to Wisconsin & Michigan Steamship Company. JUNIATA was stripped of her cabins and given a new streamlined superstructure, beginning Milwaukee and Muskegon service in 1941. World War II took OCTORARA off as a troopship (as seen by Institute member Bill Angell in Japan), and she was scrapped in the early fifties. As MILWAUKEE CLIPPER the rebuilt JUNIATA carries a buffet restaurant, main lounge-lobby and staterooms and pullman berths on her lower passenger deck. Forward on the upper deck is a children’s playroom and a movie theater, while further aft are an open-air ballroom and a broad sundeck. Excepting sleeping accomodations, these features were adapted for AQUARAMA in 1953. (See Telescope, July, 1962, cover and pp. 146-49, for a longer story on AQUARAMA and her career on the Detroit and Cleveland route.)
December 1962, p. 278