The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), December 24, 1865

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AN OLD LAKE CRAFT GONE. - The old steamer Michigan , one of the oldest of the lake craft, is now in Manitowoc Harbor, Green Bay, ready to be broken up and have her engine and machinery transferred to the new steamer Orion . The Green Bay Advocate indulges in some reminiscences of this old steamer, which may not be uninteresting to our readers:

There have been years when the Michigan was the only lower lake steamer which ruffled the waters of this river; and long intervals of her coming - two weeks apart - were hailed by a universal turn-out of our folks to receive her at the wharf. Who has forgotten the dapper, weather-beaten little sailor, Captain John, who used to bring her in in those days - and the thoughtful face of her owner, "Uncle" Oliver, who stepped ashore with a smile as if relieved from the long sitting at euchre, which had lasted all the way from Detroit. The relations of confidence between these men were proverbial, but the testy little captain never allowed the owner of the boat to interfere with him in its management. We remember an instance at one time, when the Michigan was on the rocks at Wauboshance [sic] Light, and pounding in the heavy sea as if she would go to pieces. Captain John having thrown overboard the loose freight around the deck began to "jettison" a lot of coal, which was a private venture of Uncle Oliver; and this brought out the old gentleman remonstrating. "Cappen Newbry," said Captain John, "you better go back and 'tend to your euchre; for, by ___, if you come round here meddlin with my boat, I'll throw YOU overboard." There was smile flickering around Uncle Oliver's mouth as he resumed his place at the table, but no one could tell whether it was in admiration of Captain John, or of the ace and both bowers he generally held.

The Michigan was always a prosperous boat and did her share toward building up the ample fortune of her owner. She was a slow boat, compared to those of modern construction, but probably no safer craft, in a storm, ever floated on these lakes. On two occasions which we bring to mind, once on Lake Erie in '53, and again on Lake Superior in '64, she weathered tremendous gales which sent other steamers to the bottom.

Media Type:
Item Type:
The steamer MICHIGAN featured in this article was a 198 foot, 642-ton sidewheeler built at Detroit in 1847. The two gentlemen mentioned were shipping and lumber tycoon Oliver Newberry and Captain John Stewart, the vessel's longtime skipper. As they say, there was life in the old girl yet. Instead of being broken up, she was rebuilt as a bark and came out in April, 1866. She was reportedly lost on Lake Erie the following year.
Date of Original:
December 24, 1865
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Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), December 24, 1865