The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John J. Hill (Propeller), U77002, 22 Sep 1898

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For Ocean Service. - A Prominent Atlantic Coast Firm Seeking to Buy or Charter a Large Number of Lake Steamers and Barges. To Take Them Through the Canals.
      Mr. Walter S. Besse, general manager of the Atlantic Transportation Co. of New York city, has visited several of the larger cities of the great lakes during the past few weeks in the interest of the furtherance of a scheme that may afford a partial solution of the problem of a surplus of tonnage on the great lakes, and at the same time provide a further period of usefulness for many of the smaller wooden vessels that have outlived their usefulness as a paying investment on fresh water.
The Atlantic Transportation Co. is engaged in towing coal from Newport News to Boston and New York, and intermediate points, and the object of the visit of the general manager to the lakes is to charter, if possibly, from 15,000 to 20,000 tons of bottom to be taken through the Canadian canals and utilized permanently in this coal trade on the coast. The availability of lake vessels for this service was impressed upon the company by its expedience with the steamer J. J. HILL, built at Marine City, which the Atlantic company purchased after she was taken to the coast some time ago and which they now have in service.
      Mr. Besse, according to the representations made to vessel owners with whom he has talked, prefers to secure, if possible, tow barges of from 1,200 to possibly 2,000 tons, although he might take also two or three steamers of about the same tonnage if they be suitable for towing purposes, and if satisfactory terms can be made. He will also, it is said, purchase outright any vessels with which he is suited, although most of the propositions he has made contemplated the charter of vessels for from one to two years, with the privilege of purchase at any time during the period or at its expiration. Mr. Besse and J.C. Gilchrist, one of the Cleveland vessel owners with whom he has been carrying on negotiations for several boats, this week made a trip to the vicinity of the Welland canal and the St. Lawrence, with a view to investigating the matter of taking the boats through to the coast. If the vessels are chartered outright at lake ports, the Atlantic company will. of course, bear the total expense of taking them through the canals. The plan contemplates the permanent transference of the vessels to the coast, and if it is successful, there is a probability that by next season additional charters of lake vessels will be made by the Atlantic company and by other concerns in the coal business on the coast who will follow their example. There has been a disposition on the part of some of the lake vessel owners approached in the matter to hold out for outright sales of their craft. rather than to consent to any chartering arrangement, but there is no doubt that even should they maintain this stand Mr. Besse will obtain quite a number of vessels. He will also, while in the lake region, make arrangements for securing equipments of hoisting and conveying machinery and car dumpers, such as is used in the handling of coal at lake ports.
Since the above was written Messrs. Gilchrist and Besse have returned from their trip to the St. Lawrence. and it is announced that Mr. Gilchrist has made arrangements with the Atlantic Transportation Co. to take all ten of his wooden schooners on a three-year charter. It is understood that the Atlantic company will take, probably, twenty-five vessels in all. They are now negotiating with several parties for more vessels.
      The Marin Review
      September 22, 1898
Steam screw JOHN J. HILL. U. S. No. 77002. oF 974 gross tons; 786 tons net. Built Marine City, Mich., 1892. Home port, Port Huron, Mich. 176.0 x 40.9 x 17.1
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1898

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service on Ocean
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William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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John J. Hill (Propeller), U77002, 22 Sep 1898