The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Tribune (Detroit, MI), 3 Dec, 1874

Full Text

TUGS. - A late number of the Nautical Gazette* contains the following interesting communication concerning the tugs employed on the Detroit Rivers, contributed by John D. Thompson of Detroit:

For the convenience of the shipping passing through the lakes and rivers there are at present employed some forty-four large, first class steam tugs valued at $1,500,000. The tugging business, which has become so important a feature in our lake shipping, dates its origin back to 1845, commencing at the St. Clair Flats, through the north channel. The steamer Romeo was at that time employed in aiding and transferring vessels over the Flats. The little Erie, St. Clair and Tecumseh were soon after the above date thus employed, and in 1849-50 the propeller Odd Fellow. But very little was done in through towing until 1854-55, when the Hamilton Morton and one or two others came on and transferred vessels from lake to lake. From fifteen to twenty of the present fleet are employed in transferring rafts of timber from the shores of Lake Huron to Tonawanda, Cleveland, Toledo, Sandusky and Detroit. The others depend solely on the towing of vessels through the rivers with occasional wrecking jobs. Hard times, occasioned by low freights, affect vessels and tugs proportionately alike, and for some time past the percentage in this branch of business has been in the decline.

The Crusader had the longest trip of the season, in rafting from Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, to the Welland Canal, a raft of elm timber, drawing six feet of water, said to contain over 2,000,000 feet, consigned to the Quebec market.

The dimensions of some of the largest tugs are as follows:

The Crusader is of the following dimensions: Length over all, 140 feet; beam, 23 feet; engine, 23x30 feet; two boilers (double riveted, coal burners), 17 feet in length, shell, 6.6 feet; built of heavy iron; draft of water, 11 feet; cost, $45,000. The dimensions of the John Owen are: Length over all, 147 feet; beam, 35.6 feet; engine, 28x32 feet; boilers, 16 feet long, shell, 8.9 feet; draft of water, 12 feet; cost, $40,000. The Champion's dimensions are: Length over all, 146 feet; beam, 22 feet; engines (two), 26x33 feet; boilers (two), 18 feet long, shell, 6.6 feet, draft of water 11.6 feet; cost, $47,000. The Prindeville: Length over all, 135 feet; beam, 22 feet; engines (two), 22x24 feet; boilers (two), 17 feet long, shell, 6.6 feet, draft of water 11 feet; cost, $40,000.

Media Type:
Item Type:
*published New York City at least 1810 - 1944
Many statements in this article are highly general and shouldn't be taken as very accurate, though it has some interesting information, especially on the tugs themselves.
Date of Original:
3 Dec, 1874
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
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 Tribune (Detroit, MI), 3 Dec, 1874