The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), July 7, 1883

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The new steamer Walter L. Frost was expected to leave for Toledo to load grain for Ogdensburg this morning at 1 o'clock, having just received her finishing touches at the Detroit dry dock. She measures 1,333.16 tons gross and 1,203.24 tons net, and is in many respects the finest and strongest wooden ship ever built in these waters. She is constructed especially for traffic through the new Welland Canal, and is expected to carry the largest possible cargo through without the necessity of lightering. The Walter L. Frost is of the following dimensions: Length of keel, 235 feet; length on the main deck, 250 feet; molded beam 36 feet; molded depth, 24 feet; space between deck, 9 feet. Her frames are all double and molded out of 6-inch flitch. They are 18 inches at the keel, 13 at the bilge, 7½ at the main deck and 6 at the spar deck. They are spaced 22 inches from center to center. The beams for the main deck are molded 9 inches, sided 10, and spaced 33 inches from center to center, with a hanging knee to each beam. For the spar deck the beams are 5x6. The keel is of oak 6x12. The main keelson is 14x14, with a sister keelson on each side of 12x14, and two on top, each 12x14. There are six assistant keelsons on each side, running the entire length of the ship 14 inches high and from 8 to 12 inches in thickness. Between these are the planks which for the , together with the tops of the keelsons, the floor of the steamer. The six streaks of ceiling at the bilge are 6 inches thick, and the remainder 4 inches. There are four streaks of clamps 5x12. The shelf for the main deck consists of three pieces. The two streaks of garboard on each side of the keel are 6x12 and 5x12, the bottom planking is 4, the bilge 7 and the top sides 4 inches thick.

The steamer is diagonally strapped with half-inch iron 4½ inches wide. The straps are spaced 6 feet apart, are riveted together where they cross each other, and at the top are riveted to an iron stringer 16 inches wide and ¾ thick, which runs to within 20 feet of each end of the ship. The stringer is bolted to the upper ends of the frames, and extends upward flush with the top of the spar deck beams. Resting on the tops of the frames and extending inboard to support the deck beams is another iron stringer used as a shelf piece. It is 30 inches wide by 3/8 inch thick and is connected to the first stringer by 3½ inch angle irons. The iron straps extend around the turn of the bilge and are there securely fastened. The spar deck is 2½ inches thick and the main deck 3½ inches. The steamer has four double hatches 6½x6½ on the main deck, and corresponding with these are four on the spar deck 6½x9. She has five gangways, spaced to suit the railroad wharf at Ogdensburg. The accommodations for the crew are on the spar deck forward, and are roomy and well fitted up. The pilot house is 10 feet square and is one of the finest on the lakes. She is fitted with sliding steering gear of novel construction. In every particular this steamer is neatly finished and completely fitted out with all the modern improvements. Her motive power consists of a fore and aft compound engine, built at the Dry dock engine works. The cylinders are 28 and 44x40. The propeller is 10 feet 6 inches in diameter. She has two steel boilers, 15 feet, 6 inches long and 8 feet shell, built by Desotell & Hutton. She has one spar forward, rigged in the usual way for such steamers.

The cost of this magnificent steamer is $120,000 complete, and she is said to be a very good bargain at that price. It is expected that she will take 40,000 bushels of wheat through the canal without lightering, and will carry 1,200 tons on 12 feet of water, and 1,800 tons on 14 feet, 6 inches. She will run in the Ogdensburg and Chicago line in connection with the Ogdensburg and lake Champlain railway. In appearance the new steamer is extremely handsome, her lines being very fine for a vessel of her size. Her construction has been watched from the laying of the keel by Capt. John C. Parker, master builder for the Detroit dry dock company, who superintended the building of the steamships Iron Duke, Iron Chief and Iron Age, the schooner David Dows and other lake craft well known for their strength and seaworthy qualities. Her officers are: Captain, P. L. Millen; first officer, Dan Finlayson; second officer, Joe Saunders; chief engineer, J. H. Kendall; first assistant, E. W. Tilley; second assistant, Burt Kiroy; steward, Geo. Drake.

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Though this article is one of those typical dry-as-dust "new boat" descriptions, I include it because it is a fairly comprehensive description of a vanished breed that was once a significant part of Lakes commerce - the wooden package freighter. The WALTER L. FROST served her various owners well and profitably until she was lost off S. Manitou Island in a stranding Nov. 4, 1903. The much-visited wreck of the steel freighter FRANCISCO MORAZAN, which crashed into the FROST in 1960, lies on the same reef, adjacent to the FROST's remains.

A photo of the FROST in Rutland Transit livery, probably showing her stranded at the site of her demise, is on-line at Historical Collections of the Great Lakes' website at:
Date of Original:
July 7, 1883
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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), July 7, 1883