The Graham & Morton Co. was formed under a partnership with Andrew Crawford, of Chicago, J. H. Graham, of St. Joseph, and J. Stanley Morton, of Benton Harbor, as partners, in the spring of 1875, but soon after was changed to a stock concern and the name made the Graham & Morton Transportation Co. Mr. H. W. Williams being added to the company. The fast-sailing propeller Messenger was placed on the Chicago, St. Joseph and Benton Harbor route and she did good service until the fall of 1883, when she was sold. The Sky-Lark also held position in the line during 1880-81-82, when she was changed to a barge, and soon after sold. In the winter of 1881-82 the propeller Lora was built by the company, at Benton Harbor, at a cost of about $53,000. She commenced trips on July 2, 1882, and continued on the route until the fall of 1889, when she was sold to Messrs. Wheeler & Co. of West Bay City, and is now in service on the Bay City, Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo route. In the winter of 1882-3 the propeller City of St. Joseph was built by the company, also at Benton Harbor, at a cost of about $40,000, and took her place on the route on June 1, 1883. She was sold to Mr. Williams on his retiring from the company in the spring of 1885.
In the winter of 1885-6 the speedy Puritan was built at a cost of about $68,000. She commenced trips on July 4, 1886, is still on this route and is a great favorite with the traveling public. She is 175 feet in length, 33 feet beam and 13 feet depth of hold. She is four hundred tons burden and is rated A1. She has about fifty state rooms, can accommodate about one hundred regular passengers and is licensed to carry five hundred excursionists. She is staunch and speedy and is grandly finished and well equipped in every respect. She has ample protection against fire and accident. She has made the trip across the lake from St. Joseph pier to Chicago pier in three and a half hours. She just "skips" over the lake and always "gets there," as the saying goes, in fair or rough weather. A full description of this fine craft has already appeared in these columns, and a good cut of her appears in the company’s advertisement in this paper. Her captain is Edward Stines, a St. Joseph boy, who has worked his way from a cabin-boy with the Goodrich Company through a mate’s position on the Corona and Messenger to that of captain. He has been with the G. & M. Co. about a dozen years. He is a pleasant, faithful and plucky officer, and is well liked by the company and the public generally. He has excellent officers and crew with him, the former being as follows: First mate, Neil Simmons; Second mate, William Russell; Clerk, William Hancock; First Engineer, Charles Olsen; Second, William Davis; Wheelsman, Arthur Rounds; Steward, Richard Waters; Stewardess, Gertie Ward; Cook, Joseph Mitchell; Porter, Jessie Davis.
Always showing in a practical way a disposition to meet the needs and demands of this section and route - the enterprise of the Graham & Morton Transportation Company was again most notably displayed by the production this spring of one of the finest and best side-wheel steamers - a steel craft - that ever sailed the waters of this chain of lakes. The contract for her construction was let to Wheeler & Co., of West Bay City, in September last. In the same month her keel was laid; in February following she was safely launched in the midst of an immense crowd of enthusiastic and cheering citizens. On Sunday, June 1, about 3 a. m., after having been tested by a trial trip on the bay a day or two before and found worthy, a large party of people enjoying the ride with her builder and President Graham she left her native dock for her home port, St. Joseph, where she arrived safely after a grand trip at about 3:45 p. m. Monday. Captain McIntosh and the regular crew manned her.
The steamer and party aboard of her were given a royal reception, and afterwards she was thoroughly inspected by thousands of citizens of St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and Chicago, since when she has been making regular trips on this route. (A full report of her arrival and the reception given to the boat with banquet to President Graham and Congressman Wheeler, the builder, and party at the Whitcomb, etc., appeared in the Saturday Herald at the time of her arrival.) To say that she is a floating palace is simply stating a fact; to say that our people take much pride in her is also uttering another fact, and that St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Chicago and the traveling public appreciate her is apparent. Her name, "City of Chicago" is appropriate in every [word obliterated]
The dimensions of the vessel are: Length over all, 223 feet; molded beam 33 feet; breadth over guard, 60 feet. Though she is built of heavy plate steel the new boat draws but 8 feet of water when loaded. She is supplied with two boilers 11 feet in diameter and 13 feet long, each boiler having a steam dome 6 feet and 8 inches in diameter and 7 feet long. The boilers have a working pressure of 110 pounds. The engine is of the compound pattern, of 1,600-horse power and will propel the boat at the rate of about 17 or 18 miles an hour. The high pressure cylinder is 36 inches in diameter and has a stroke of 6 feet 8 inches. The low pressure cylinder is 54 inches in diameter and has a stroke of 10 feet. A steam capstan aft and a capstan windlass forward are for handling the anchors. The grand saloon, on the saloon deck, is 175 feet long. The walls are of paneled mahogany, each panel filled with heavy embossed work. The whole vessel is heated by steam. The Edison system of incandescent electric light is used. She has 72 state rooms, is licensed to carry 500 regular passengers and 1,500 excursionists, and is provided with all conveniences and safety appliances. She carries the Graham & Morton flag at her mast, and bears the company’s monogram "G. & M." in large letters between the smoke stacks. She has four side colors bearing "St. Joseph," "Benton Harbor," "Grand Rapids," "Indianapolis." The decorating of the interior was done by the Church Plastico Company, of Grand Rapids, who finished the work in white plastico and gold, in glazed and crystalline effects, bringing out perfect flowers and outlines of landscapes in relief. Nelson, Matter & Co., also of Grand Rapids, supplied the carpets and furniture, which are as handsome and substantial as it is possible to make them. The carpets are a heavy fine moquette in two shades of terra cotta. The furniture comprises many upholstered pieces, including chairs, settees and general boat furniture. A beautiful center-piece graces the main cabin - a novel design embracing six seats, covered with fine mohair plush. The smokers’ room is provided with substantial furniture of antique oak, upholstered in leather. The cost of this magnificent steamer is about $200,000. She is commanded by Captain McIntosh, an experienced sea captain, pleasant, genial gentleman, well liked by all who know him. In the short time our people here have known him they have learned that he is one in whom they can put their confidence. He has had thirty years’ experience as master, twenty years of this time on side-wheel steamers. The other officers are as follows: First Mate, Bert Simmons; Second Mate, Riley Phillips; Clerk, Charles L. Young; Chief Engineer, W. R. McClure; Second, John Gostage; Wheelmen, Abe Walker and T. Dailey; Steward, C. P. Tibbits; Stewardess, Mrs. Ward; Head Waiter, Ed Obert; Cook, Robert Garnett; Porter, Will Elliott. Ed Weaver has charge of the fruit and lunch stand. The principal officers are well assisted by competent persons in all departments of this grand steamer.
The Graham & Morton Transportation Company have always shown a disposition to do the right thing for shippers and the traveling public generally and no company of men could have given better or more faithful service. They deserve words of praise and encouragement from all, and hearty support from our people in their efforts to meet the just wants and demands of the public generally.
The president of the company is Mr. J. H. Graham, who gives close attention to his arduous duties and resides in St. Joseph. The secretary and treasurer is Mr. J. Stanly Morton - he lives in and is an active citizen of Benton Harbor. Mr. A. Crawford, the other member, is a lawyer and capitalist, and has his office and residence in Chicago, but this spring he purchased the 89 farm on Niles road in Lincoln township, is building a fine home thereon, and he and his family will hereafter spend their summers here. The members of the Graham & Morton Company have personal interests in one or all of the three cities named on their card, and are therefore more closely interested in the welfare and growth of all of them. In brief it is a home company.