The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), May 8, 1891

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Success of Wheeler's Boats on Salt Water

The boats built at Wheeler's yard at West Bay City for the ocean trade seem to be a success, judging from the encomiums that are being heaped upon them. Mr. James Jerome, secretary and treasurer of the Saginaw Steamship Company, of New York, wrote the Frontier Iron & Brass Works, as follows:

"The Mackinaw leaves to-night for Pergreso, Yucatan, after a load of hemp. Her engine made 89.5 turns for twenty-four hours, the boat being loaded to twenty-three feet."

This is about the average speed of engines in lake boats when drawing fifteen feet. The Mackinaw proves to be a first-class sea boat. She has been out in very heavy weather on the Atlantic coast, and during it all has never spilled a drop of water from a glass which has been kept filled and standing on a sideboard in her cabin. She carried from New Orleans to Philadelphia on one trip 16,500 barrels and 500 hogsheads of sugar, said to be the largest cargo ever shipped from that port.

The Mackinaw is the only American-built vessel belonging to the class known in England as "tramps," and which constitute a great portion of the boasted English marine wealth. The cost of getting the Mackinaw to the Atlantic was nearly $10,000 and and it required nearly two months from the time she left Bay City for her to reach New York City. It was the first time anything of the sort had been attempted by an American shipbuilder, and there were many things connected with getting the vessel to the seaboard that could be learned by experience only, and which will prove useful in bringing the next vessel to the Atlantic.

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On nearly the same day as the above article, the KEWEENAW left Bay City for the coast, and the papers followed HER journey as well. One of the lessons learned was that she was towed all the way from the Saginaw River to Montreal in two pieces, with no stop in Buffalo. The tugs GLADIATOR and JUSTICE FIELD towed her for at least the first leg of the journey, and the vessel arrived in New York in late June. One quirk was that the steamboat inspectors decided that it was impossible to inspect and measure her in two parts, and inspection was delayed until the boat was reassembled in Montreal. MACKINAW had a long saltwater career, operating on the East Coast until sold to Japanese shippers in 1916 and renamed SAWA MARU (JPN#19192). She was a war loss in 1917. KEWEENAW was not so fortunate - she went missing in a gale off treacherous Cape Flattery, Washington, about Dec. 7, 1894.
Date of Original:
May 8, 1891
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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), May 8, 1891