The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), 18 Apr, 1882

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On Sunday about noon something strange was noticed about the river. At first it seemed to stop flowing, then it gradually raised about six inches and finally started back for Lake St. Clair. The astonished people along the wharves were at a loss to understand this peculiar conduct when a low whistle attracted the attention of all to Sandwich Point and there the cause of the affair was found. Pouring high volumes of smoke from her funnel and pushing most of the river ahead of her, came the new iron steam ship Onoko. This, the largest vessel on fresh water, has been already described in these columns. She is straight, bluff, and far from beautiful. According to those aboard she handles well and makes about nine miles per hour. The best feature about her is that she had in her hold 2,620 tons of coal and was drawing about 13 feet, 6 inches of water.

Media Type:
Item Type:
What the newspaper of 1882 took to be a huge but ugly vessel was actually the first metal steamer built specifically as a bulk freighter, and has a familiar look to we moderns. Built at the Globe Iron Works at Buffalo, ONOKO was the largest vessel on the lakes at the time, but at 287 feet and 2,164gt, only marginally bigger than the largest wooden package freighters then afloat. But the package freighters were on their way out, while ONOKO was a true harbinger of things to come.
For images of ONOKO click on these URLs:,%201885,%20Cleveland%20among%20the%20steel%20mills .
Date of Original:
18 Apr, 1882
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 Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), 18 Apr, 1882