We return to the Marine Museum for our next series of meetings, the first two of which will be held on Friday, December 3rd, and Friday, January 7th,
Our Autumn Dinner Meeting, held at the King Edward Hotel on November 5th, was a great success in every way. We were served an excellent meal and all enjoyed the address on lake shipwrecks delivered by Mr. Robert MacDonald of Erie, Pennsylvania. Our thanks to Bob for his assistance in coming to speak to us. We were particularly pleased to see so many of our out-of-town members, especially from the Detroit area, and we hope that they may be able to come to more of our gatherings.
Greetings Of The Season
About this time of year, those of us who frequent the Welland Canal area on Saturdays are beginning to wonder whether they will be able to make it over and back without getting snowed in. The ships coming in off the lake have coatings of ice on the bows and the decks. Their steam hangs in the cold air in long, wispy trails, as they make their way to port with the final cargoes of the season.
Yes, all these things show us that winter is on the way. And the lighted evergreens making their annual appearance on pilothouse or unloading boom remind us to wish to all our members and their families a very Merry Christmas and all possible happiness in the New Year. We trust that 1972 will be a good year not only for yourselves but also, with your help, for the Toronto Marine Historical Society.
A very warm welcome goes out to our most recent additions to the membership roll, David Kohl of Waterford, Ontario, and Mike Nicholls of Allen Park, Michigan.
In these days of galloping dieselization, the sight of a steam tug at work is enough to cause even the calmest ship fan to let out a yelp and grab for the nearest camera. So it was on November 21st when the big (136 feet) steamer CHRIS M. appeared at Port Colborne to pick up the idle tanker ALFRED CYTACKI. The tug has been bought by the owners of CYTACKI which will now be returned to the St. Clair River service which she left in early autumn. CHRIS M. was built in 1943 at Willington Quay-on-Tyne as ASHFORD and came to the lakes after the war, being operated for many years in the Lake Superior logging trade by the Great Lakes Paper Co. Ltd. Some two years ago she was sold to Gravel and Lake Services Ltd., Port Arthur, but saw little if any service. She now appears to have a new job ahead of her pushing ALFRED CYTACKI, An oil burner, CHRIS M. has recently had a streamlined "coffee pot" style stack fitted, but strangely enough, she was observed carrying the old funnel lashed to the deck on the starboard side! In view of the almost complete disappearance of steam tugs from the lakes, we wish her many years of service.
The shipping business being what it is, accidents of one sort or another are bound to occur once in a while. One of the strangest shipboard occurrences of which we have heard took place on October 26th when the U.S. Steel self-unloader ROGERS CITY was unloading a cargo of stone at Carrollton, Michigan, on the Saginaw River. For some unexplained reason the ship's A-frame collapsed and let the unloading boom come down across the starboard side of the deck. No injuries were reported, but damage to the unloading equipment was severe. The boom had to be cut into pieces for removal and other equipment was called to the scene to complete the unloading process, ROGERS CITY was then moved to the Defoe Shipyard at Bay City for the job of repairing the A-frame and we understand that the boom will be replaced over the winter months. The collapse or buckling of self-unloader booms is not altogether a rare occurrence, but we must admit that we have never before heard of the failure of the A-frame itself.
Another strange accident occurred at Goderich on November 9th while the bulk carrier THORNHILL was unloading grain at the Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. elevator in the Lake Huron port. The unloading leg was right down to the tanktop in an effort to clean the last bit of grain from one of the holds when a large swell of undetermined origin hit the ship. As the vessel rose on the wave, the elevator leg hit the tanktop and, instead of puncturing the ship's bottom, was forced upwards until it burst right through the roof of the elevator's work house. When the ship fell on the receding water, the leg slipped back into the hold. The company was faced with a delicate problem in that the leg had to be cut away and a new section installed before the rest of the cargo could be removed.
Another old laker has made the last voyage to the scrapyard. G.G. POST arrived at Port Colborne on November 21st in tow of HERBERT A. and there was joined by the tug ARGUE MARTIN for the downbound trip through the canal and over to Hamilton. The POST has lain idle at Ojibway since 1968 and was last operated by Silloc Limited. She was known for her very noisy steam dock cranes and for the great clouds of coal smoke that she constantly emitted.
Two units of the Hall Corporation fleet, inactive this year, have been sold to a consortium of dredging firms for use in the removal of sludge during the current St. Lawrence improvement program. The two ships, HUTCHCLIFFE HALL and OREFAX, will operate east of Quebec City where the channel is being dredged to a depth of fifty feet to permit the entry of large tankers. The companies involved are the McNamara Construction Co. Ltd., the J. P. Porter Co. Ltd., and Marine Industries Ltd. There has been no definite word as to whether the ships will be used under their own power or as barges.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority has extended the closing date for the Welland Canal to December 31st in an effort to accommodate Canadian operators planning late sailings. Meanwhile, strict priorities have been instituted to regulate the passage of salt water vessels, increased numbers of which have been pouring into the lakes as a result of coastal labour problems. Lineups of up to two dozen ships at both ends of the canal were frequent throughout November and the situation was worsened by a shortage of pilots. An early freeze could conceivably trap many vessels in the system as a number of ships will obviously not complete their business in the lakes until the last moment before the closing of the lower canals.
Upbound in the St. Lawrence River on October 15 with a cargo of Christmas decorations for Chicago, the British freighter SINGAPORE TRADER ran aground about two miles above Clayton, New York. Although things did not look too serious at first, it proved impossible to refloat the ship with the equipment at hand and a salvage contract - no cure, no pay - has been awarded to Murphy Pacific Marine Salvage Co., Merritt Division. The company will try to float the ship after lightering the cargo and bunkers. More recent reports indicate that the hull may be in bad shape. SINGAPORE TRADER was built in 1944 at Wilmington, N. C., and is of the C-2 (S-AJ1) standard type. She previously sailed as (a) TORRANCE, (b) ALCOA ROAMER, (c) ELDORADO and (d) RICHMOND.
Although no official announcement has yet been made, it has become evident that Canada Steamship Lines' new self-unloader currently building at Collingwood will be christened NEKOUBA. Other names were apparently suggested but visitors to the shipyard report that NEKOUBA has been cut into the steel plating on the bow, so there appears to be little doubt. The rather strange name is said to be a continuation of the series of Indian names given to upper lake self-unloaders in recent years. Following completion of this hull, Collingwood has orders for two more self-unloaders the first for the Algoma Central Railway and the second for C.S.L.
Ramey's Bend in the Welland Canal at Humberstone has another guest. On October 21st, the tugs HERBERT A. and G. W. ROGERS brought in the Gartland Steamship Company's veteran self-unloader W. E. FITZGERALD and, at the time of writing, Marine Salvage Ltd. had already begun to dismantle the vessel. The steamer was a 1906 product of the Detroit Shipbuilding Co., Wyandotte, and was converted to a scraper type self-unloader in 1928 at Cleveland. She had the distinction of being the first upper lake self-unloader to trade into Lake Ontario after the opening of the present Welland Canal. She also takes the dubious honour of being the first bow-thruster-equipped laker to be scrapped. W. E. FITZGERALD has not operated since the purchase of Gartland by the American Steamship Co.
Incidentally, we hope that all our local members took advantage of the opportunity to photograph the two Sullivan steamers W. E. FITZGERALD and HENRY R. PLATT JR. together at Humberstone. Never again will the chance to see two vessels of this fleet side by side be available. PLATT was recently loaded with stone at Port Colborne and on November 10 was taken down the canal by G. W. ROGERS and HERBERT A., arriving in Hamilton on November 11. There she will be used as a retaining wall along with GROVEDALE. The steamer had been stripped of all her superstructure prior to being loaded.
The Ford Motor Company has confirmed rumours making the rounds for some time, that it has no intention of again operating its collier ROBERT S. McNAMARA, currently laid up in the River Rouge. The ship was built in 1909 for the Stadacona Steamship Co. and was christened STADACONA. She later passed to an American subsidiary of C.S.L. and in 1920 became W. H. McGEAN of the Pioneer Steamship Co. Upon the dissolution of the Hutchinson fleet in 1962, she was bought by Ford and has been used primarily in the Toledo-Detroit coal run, having last operated this Spring.
Not only has the American coal miners' strike reduced coal shipments on the lakes it has also led to some ships being laid up due to the scarcity of bunkers. Hardest hit has been the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad's fleet of Lake Michigan carferries. All five steamers presently available for service, PERE MARQUETTE 21, PERE MARQUETTE 22, CITY OF MIDLAND 41, BADGER and SPARTAN, are powdered coal burners and all were put to the wall by November 5th. A sixth vessel, CITY OF SAGINAW 31, is currently lying a Manitowoc pending the outcome of a dispute regarding the cost of repairs necessitated by a recent fire.
Layups in the American fleets continued during November as ore demands fell off even further from their previous low levels. As of mid-month only Bethlehem and Cleveland Cliffs could boast of having all available vessels in commission.
Two issues ago, we reported that the Canadian Pacific tug and barge combination PRESCOTONT and OGDENSBURG had moved to Windsor from their old station on the St. Lawrence. We have now received official confirmation from the Windsor-Detroit Barge Line, a new company formed by Mr. Joe Carollo, that it is negotiating for the vessels under a rental-purchase agreement that should see the ships under its ownership before the end of the year. Once in operation (as soon as salt water traffic declines enough to make dock space available in Detroit), the barge will load on each trip, nine flatcars in Windsor. These will be ferried across to the Detroit side where their cargo of containers will be removed by crane and replaced by others bound for the Quebec City C.P.R. container port. The barge will then be moved back to Windsor where the flatcars and their containers will be rolled ashore. Earlier reports that the carfloat MANISTEE would also be used on the service are not correct.
Disturbing word comes from New York where it seems ALEXANDER HAMILTON has been put up for sale by the Hudson River Day Line. Most observers had been under the impression that upon retirement the ship would be placed in the South Street Seaport Museum. She is pictured in a large advertisement circulated recently and is described as "ideal for restaurant, night club, convention halls....," somewhat optimistically we feel! The brokers involved are Hughes Bros. Inc., who advertise themselves as a "clearing house for marine difficulties." Who would ever have thought of the grand old lady of the Hudson as a "marine difficulty" ?
A tentative list of layup ports for the U.S. Steel fleet shows the A. H. FERBERT wintering at Bay City, Michigan. This has led many observers to speculate that the vessel may receive major work on her machinery.
The local troubles of the Wellington Transportation Co., operators of the Soo carferry SUGAR ISLANDER, seem to be continuing. Not only is the company still engaged in litigation over a new fare structure which aroused the ire of some members of the Sugar Island community, but Island residents are now pushing for increased service on winter evenings. Considering the ice conditions that have plagued Little Rapids Cut during recent winters, it seems to us that the Islanders are lucky to have any winter service at all!
The first grain cargo shipped from the port of Huron, Ohio, in seven years was loaded on November 11th from the recently reactivated Pillsbury elevator into the Reoch self-unloader AVONDALE, The load of soybeans was destined for Toronto's Victory Soya Mills.
Le Sault de Sainte Marie Historic Sites Inc. is moving ahead with plans to rebuild the former Kemp Coal Dock and Johnstone Street slip in the Michigan Soo to provide a permanent home for the museum ship VALLEY CAMP. It would be the first step in a proposed comprehensive restoration of the Water Street-Fort Brady area of town.
We have received word that the former Mohawk Navigation Co. motorship BELVOIR, latterly operating in the Caribbean for the Bamar Marine Co. Ltd., was sold in 1970 to Cia. Peruana de Vapores and renamed NAZCA. She now sails under the Peruvian flag.
The details of the sale of another former laker, the Halco tanker GULF TRANSPORT, have now been clarified somewhat. Originally sold by Hall Corp. late in 1970 to Cia Aramtoriale Palermitana "Cabrilla" S.A., she was resold the same year to Cisterniera Azionaria Sicula Adriatica S.p.A, and was renamed NONNA VALERIA.
Photographers at Sault Ste. Marie can usually time the arrival of ships by the rule of thumb that a passage across Lake Superior between Duluth and the Soo usually takes about 24 hours. It is, naturally, with some surprise that we learn that the Brazilian motorship ITAIMBE made the 380 mile upbound passage in 15 hours and 55 minutes on November 3rd, setting a record that may well stand for many years.
Many of our readers will be saddened to learn of the sale for scrapping of one of the most familiar salt water ships to trade into the Great Lakes in recent years, ROONAGH HEAD, a 1952 product of Harland and Wolff, Belfast, had traded here for over a decade under the flag of the Ulster Steam Shipping Co. Ltd., commonly known as the Head Line. Powered by steam turbine machinery, the ship was part of a trio that, up until a few years ago, also included RATHLIN HEAD and RAMORE HEAD. A handsome vessel fitted with beautiful passenger accommodations, ROONAGH HEAD was perhaps best known for her involvement in a collision on the foggy St. Lawrence on July 20, 1963, a collision that sent the ore carrier TRITONICA to the bottom. ROONAGH HEAD made her last departure from Toronto on July 21st amid a chorus of salutes, the significance of which was not then known to observers, and has since made the one way trip to Spanish breakers.
The schooner HARRY W. ADAMS, a feature of the Toronto waterfront for several years until sold this autumn, made a return visit to the port early in November. Her new owner, Chicago contractor John Mosele, was taking her back to salt water on the first leg of a globe-circling voyage. It is extremely doubtful that we will ever see her back.
Faced with a fine each time she enters Wisconsin waters, the riverboat DELTA QUEEN will be fitted this winter at New Orleans with a revolutionary new water purification system. The plant will convert sewage water into clean water suitable for washing or boiler feed.
Ever since the sale of EMPRESS OF ENGLAND, many observers felt it would be but a short time before Canadian Pacific would cease deep sea passenger service altogether but the recent announcement that the last White Empress would be retired because of a lack of patronage was still a shock. The upcoming Caribbean winter cruising schedule for EMPRESS OF CANADA has been cancelled and, in fact, the November l7th sailing from Montreal for Liverpool will be the last trip for the ship under the C.P. flag. EMPRESS OF CANADA was a fairly new ship having been built for C.P. in 1961 by Vickers-Armstrongs. For a number of years, the C.P.R. has made it abundantly clear that it wanted out of both the rail and sea passenger business and that purpose is not far from being accomplished. Afloat, only the British Columbia and Bay of Fundy services are still operating and we fervently hope that the axe does not fall on PRINCESS PATRICIA.
Friday, October 29th, was a big day around the Toronto waterfront for that was the day that the steam tug NED HANLAN was moved to her new home beside the Marine Museum of Upper Canada in Exhibition Park.
Preparations for the move had been going on for quite some time before the ship was taken from the water. The MacDonald Tobacco Company donated the funds necessary to take care of the numerous expenses involved and John N. Brocklesby Transport Ltd., a subsidiary of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., arranged for the actual transportation of the tug from the Metro Marine yard to the C.N.E. A large hole was dug to the west of the museum building to receive the tug and cradles were specially constructed to fit her hull.
On October 27th, Brocklesby cranes lifted the vessel from the murky waters of the Rees Street slip and she was placed on the cradles which had been positioned on a huge flatbed trailer. Then, two days later, once the Friday morning rush hour traffic had cleared, the trailer and its strange cargo began the long haul. The tug, gaily dressed in signal flags and wearing the Pilot Jack at the bow, the C.S.L. house flag at a sidepole, and the once-familiar Red Ensign at the stern, had attracted many observers and, with these recording the event, the stately procession moved off along Queen's Quay.
With the Police Department closing off the necessary roads and city and hydro crews removing or lifting electric wires and traffic light equipment, the HANLAN proceeded west on Queen's Quay and Lakeshore Blvd. and entered Exhibition Park from behind the Automotive Building. Here were encountered the only major problems of the operation. Several trailers were blocking the roadway at this point and once they had been removed, mechanical troubles with the HANLAN'S own tractor unit delayed the last leg of the move. Eventually, however, the tug was placed next to her new berth. She was lowered into the hole the next week and work on landscaping will now be put in hand. The tug herself will be sandblasted clean and then restored to her original operating condition.
The people of the City of Toronto owe a great debt to the Toronto Historical Board for its perseverance with this ambitious project and also to those who contributed to the effort. We hope that NED HANLAN will long serve to remind the populace of the steam tugs that worked so hard for so many years in our harbour.
Ship of the Month No. 17
In this section of our journal, we try to feature vessels which, for one reason or another, were particularly well known around the Great Lakes. Our ship for this month had a long life in lake service but one that was marred by more than her fair share of misfortune.
In 1902, a young man by the name of George Ashley Tomlinson, a native of Lapeer, Michigan, who had worked as just about everything from a reporter to a performer in Buffalo Bill Cody's circus, and who had built himself a small vessel agency in Duluth with the assistance of his wife's family, the Davidsons of Bay City, decided to go into the lake shipping business in earnest. During the next decade, he built many steamers and clearly established the Tomlinson Fleet Corporation as one of the leading independent American vessel operators. In fact, the company remained in business right up until 1971 and is currently involved in the process of winding up its affairs, having disposed of its last three vessels only recently.
The year after its founding, the Tomlinson fleet took delivery of the bulk carrier SAXONA which had been completed in July 1903 as Hull 416 of the Cleveland yard of the American Shipbuilding Co. The new steamer, registered as U.S. 200036, was 416 feet long, 50 feet in the beam and 24 feet in depth, with tonnage of 4716 Gross and 3441 Net. Her hull was divided into four compartments and she was given twelve hatches on 24-foot centres. Steam from two coal-fired Scotch boilers measuring 13'2" by 11'6" fed her triple expansion engines which had cylinders of 20", 33 1/2" and 55" and a stroke of 42".
It was Tomlinson's custom to give some of his ships names beginning with the letter "S" and ending with the letter "A", and SAXONA joined this series which already included SULTANA, SONORA, SINALOA and SONOMA. Several more were to follow. Tomlinson, true to form, did not register SAXONA in his name. The early vessels of the fleet were actually owned by as many as a dozen small Tomlinson-controlled companies and SAXONA was registered in the name of the Zenith Steamship Co., Cleveland. She bore the usual colours, a dark red hull, white cabins, and a red stack divided into thirds by two silver bands, but in addition she carried, under the name on the bow, a pennant bearing the letter ""Z".
Her career was relatively uneventful until the 14th day of April, 1906. On that day, SAXONA was downbound in the St. Mary's River with a cargo of flaxseed loaded in Duluth and destined for Lake Erie. At the same time, the steamer EUGENE ZIMMERMAN, owned by L. S. Sullivan et al. of Toledo and operated by the Toledo Steamship Co., was upbound on her maiden voyage having left the yard of her builders, the Toledo Shipbuilding Co., only a few days previously. She was bound for the head of the lakes with coal. Below Neebish Island, the two vessels met. SAXONA allegedly turned into the path of the other vessel and struck the ZIMMERMAN about twenty feet back of the bow on the port side. The latter vessel received the more spectacular and severe damage, her entire bow being crumpled back as far as the pilothouse and a gaping hole cut on the port side. EUGENE ZIMMERMAN sank at once in about twenty feet of water on the Canadian side of the river while SAXONA continued on downstream for a short distance until she filled, settling to the bottom on the west side of St. Mary's.
SAXONA was easily pumped out, patched, and taken to drydock for repairs but the ZIMMERMAN was in bad shape. With great difficulty, her bow was covered with protective material and she was eventually raised. Once her coal was removed, she was taken to Cleveland where she stayed until the shipyard completed repairs in July 1906. She operated for many years after her inauspicious start in life, latterly serving the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Co. as GRAND ISLAND. She was scrapped in Germany in 1964. In her later years, she often gave one the impression of being slightly twisted and perhaps this was a souvenir of SAXONA.
SAXONA was returned to service and sailed for Tomlinson until 1917 when she again met disaster in the form of collision. Ironically, the accident scene was once again the St. Mary's River, only a few miles below the location of the 1906 accident. On May 14, 1917, SAXONA, collided head-on with the Pittsburgh Steamship Company's 1903-built steamer PENTECOST MITCHELL just above the village of DeTour in the Pipe Island Channel. SAXONA had been upbound with coal and sank in some fifty feet of water. To make matters worse, the two vessels had remained locked together by the bows as they settled. The Zenith Steamship Co. abandoned SAXONA to the underwriters from whom she was purchased, cargo included, for a sum of $75,000. by the Reid Wrecking Co. of Sarnia. While another salvager had great difficulty with the MITCHELL, Reid raised SAXONA relatively easily by means of two cofferdams which were placed over the deck, allowing her to be pumped dry. She was taken to Collingwood under tow and was rebuilt by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.
At this time, the vessel was sold to R. M. Wolvin, Capt. J. W. Norcross, and Harold Smith, three of the parties who held interests in the shipyard. They resold the ship to Albert Ernest Mathews of Toronto and in 1918 she entered service for the Mathews Steamship Co. Ltd., Toronto, having been rechristened LAKETON, the name she would carry for the rest of her days. Her tonnage was now listed as 4423 Gross and 3248 Net and her Canadian registry number was 137906.
With the Mathews colours on her stack (black with two silver bands) and the big "M" monogram on her bow, LAKETON served in the Canadian grain and ore trades for more than a decade. Her appearance had been altered by the addition of a much larger texas cabin and pilothouse and she was one of the better vessels in the Mathews fleet. However, the Depression years hit Mathews hard. LAKETON was laid up at Port Colborne but was moved during the summer of 1932 to Toronto. By this time, the company was in the hands of receivers and during 1932, LAKETON and other units of the fleet were used for grain storage by Toronto Elevators Ltd. The following year, the last remains of the Mathews Steamship Co. Ltd. were sold and LAKETON passed to Capt. R. Scott Misener's Colonial Steamships Ltd. of Port Colborne. She retained her old funnel colours since the black and silver design was adopted by Misener for use in his operations.
The Misener years were generally uneventful for LAKETON. She ran regularly in the Canadian ore and grain trades and does not appear to have been involved in any further mishaps. The onset of World War II brought an increased demand in the United States for iron ore and American vessels were not able to keep up with the demand. As a result, emergency legislation was passed in 1941 to allow foreign ships to carry ore between two American ports. LAKETON made the news when in July 1941, she became the first Canadian ship to carry an American domestic iron ore cargo. She loaded at Duluth and took her ore to the C. & P. Dock at Cleveland.
By the end of the war, LAKETON's machinery was beginning to show the strain of over forty years of service. In 1946 her engines and boilers were removed and she was fitted with the machinery salvaged from the corvette PORT ARTHUR which was decomissioned and scrapped after the cessation of hostilities. Her two new boilers were of the water tube variety and had been made by the John Inglis Co. in 1941. The steam produced by them fed 1942-vintage Inglis four-cylinder triple expansion engines having cylinders of 18 1/2", 31", 38 1/2" and a stroke of 30". This power plant gave LAKETON a new lease on life and she continued to serve the Misener fleet for almost twenty years, being a frequent visitor to Toronto, especially with winter storage cargoes.
One of the low points of LAKETON's career came during the winter of 1958-59 while she was laid up at Toronto in the Turning Basin. Colonial Steamships was reorganized as Scott Misener Steamships Ltd. and, whether in an effort to give the company a progressive image or whether the management simply fell victim to the fad then popular among certain operators, LAKETON's stack was chopped down to roughly half its former height. The funnel had been rather handsome, moderate in height and with a slight rake, but now there remained only an ugly stump from which protruded the liner in a most ungraceful fashion. For her remaining years, LAKETON had a decidedly unbalanced profile as a result of this operation.
In the 1960's, the Misener fleet embarked on a new project of modernization and it was only natural that the veteran upper lakers should start to fall by the wayside. LAKETON completed the 1964 season and laid up at Goderich with a cargo of storage grain. She was subsequently retired and was sold in 1965 to Crosbie Shipping Ltd., St. John's, Newfoundland, for grain storage. She passed down the Welland Canal under her own power in August 1965 en route to her new duties. Her ownership soon passed to Lundrigan and Lundrigan's Ltd., Corner Brook, Nfld., and she was used as a feed storage hull for Hillcrest Turkey Farms, being kept in the harbour at St. John's, the capitol of the island province.
She did not maintain this lowly status for long, however, for in 1967 she was sold to Steel Factors Ltd., a Montreal scrap metal firm. She was resold to Italian breakers and early in January 1968, was towed from St. John's by the tug KORAL, her destination being Vado, Italy. Her partner in the tandem tow was the former Canadian Coast Guard steamer SAUREL which had been renamed G.S.S.NO. 2 for the trip. The scrappers apparently did not bargain for the weather that the old ships would meet out on the wintry North Atlantic. On January 13th, the seas became particularly nasty and LAKETON took matters into her own hands, breaking tow and drifting off into the storm. The tug could not recapture the steamer and she foundered in a position 39° 42' North, 30° 36' West. This time there were no salvagers to snatch her from her resting place on the bottom.
The Lake Michigan Breakwater Fleet
The Sixties saw the exodus of a large number of lake steamers from our waters, bound for European scrapyards. Not so well known is the fact that numerous others made a one-way trip to the Lake Michigan area for use as breakwaters and piers, both temporary and permanent. For several years now we have been trying to compile a complete listing of the present whereabouts of the many hulls so used, but have not met much success.
We appeal to any readers who may have knowledge of this subject to drop us a note giving us what information they can. If we receive sufficient assistance, we may be able to produce a directory for publication in this journal. If not, your Editor may have to make a trip over there to find out for himself!
T. M. Kirkwood - Steamship Operator
During the early 1920's, T. M. Kirkwood and his sons formed the Kirkwood. Steamship Lines, Toronto, the intent being to engage in the package freight trade between Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton in direct opposition to the well established services of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. Kirkwood, however, might better be remembered for pioneering a unique direct freight service between Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver via the Panama Canal.
T. M. Kirkwood grew up in the lake shipping trade. As a teenager, he served on the CORINTHIAN of the Royal Mail Lines in the 1870's as she plied between Hamilton, Toronto and other North Shore Lake Ontario ports, and Montreal. He was aboard when she stranded near Grafton in 1876. Later, in association with one D. L. McKinnon, Kirkwood operated the propeller CITY OF WINDSOR and the sidewheel CITY OF OWEN SOUND. Both vessels were of wooden construction and operated in the passenger and freight business between Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie.
CITY OF WINDSOR (Can. 94843) was built at Detroit in 1883 as a combination passenger and freight steamer. She measured 117 x 24 x 9.5 and her tonnage was 403 Gross, 236 Net. Originally known as (a) E. K. ROBERTS, she was purchased by Kirkwood and McKinnon in 1890 at a marshal's sale in Toronto after she had damaged a lock in the old Welland Canal. They rebuilt her in 1890 as (b) CITY OF WINDSOR and put her to work. Eventually, after several sales in the interim, she came into the fleet of the Owen Sound Transportation Co, and was renamed (c) MICHIPICOTEN, operating in freight-only service to the North Channel. She finally burned at Gore Bay on the north shore of Manitoulin Island on October 11, 1927.
CITY OF OWEN SOUND (Can, 107598) was originally the paddle tug METEOR built in 1866 at Sorel for the Allan Line for use in conjunction with their transatlantic liner service. After some years in service on the lakes as a tug, she was rebuilt as a passenger and freight steamer at Owen Sound in 1900. Measuring 129 x 24 x 11, her tonnage jumped from 336 to 754 Gross with the rebuild. She was licensed to carry 250 passengers. In 1906 she was renamed (c) ERINDALE but burned on August 9 of the same year at Port Darlington (Bowmanville) to the east of Toronto,
But we have strayed from the Kirkwood Steamship Lines of the twenties. They acquired the British coaster GREYPOINT (Br. 121234 (a) RATHLIN, for the Toronto-Montreal service and she maintained a weekly service each year through 1926. She had been built at Glasgow, Scotland, by W. Beardmore & Co. Ltd. in 1905 and with dimensions of 252 x 35 x 17, she grossed 1128 tons. GREYPOINT was a typical "three island" type salt water vessel and carried fitted topmasts on her tall spars. She brought to Lake Ontario the Kirkwood colours - black hull, white cabins and a black funnel with a white band.
For the Toronto to Vancouver run, Kirkwood acquired the J. H. PLUMMER (Can. 114447). She had been built in 1903 by Armstrong Whitworth & Co. Ltd. at Walker on Tyne (Newcastle). With a length of 246.4 feet, a beam of 36.6 and a depth of 21.7, her tonnage was shown as 1643 Gross, 1238 Net. A typical turn-of-the-century steel canal package freighter with her bridge off the forecastle, she was originally owned by the Canadian Lake and Ocean Navigation Co. Ltd. along with her sisterships A. E. AMES and H. M. PELLATT. All three were named for prominent Toronto financiers. By 1910 she was operated by the Merchants Mutual Line Ltd., a forerunner of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. which was formed in December 1913. She was requisitioned for salt water service during World War I and, while still on the Atlantic in 1920, she passed from C.S.L. to Belgian owners and was renamed (b) VAN EYCK. Brought back to the lakes late in 1922 by Kirkwood, she reverted to her original name. After a very short period of operation on the Toronto-Vancouver run, she was sold to Vancouver interests for service on the Pacific and renamed (d) AMUR. In 1941, she was owned by the Coastwise Steamship and Barge Co. Ltd., Vancouver. In 1946, she was sold to Chinese buyers and renamed (e) FAR EASTERN CARRIER. The same year, she passed to the Tung An Shipping Co. Ltd., Shanghai, and was renamed TUNG AN. She passed out of registry about 1950.
To replace J. H. PLUMMER, Kirkwood acquired CANADIAN LOGGER, a typical World World I "Laker" with modified superstructure. She had been built in 1921 at Midland by James Playfair's Midland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. for the ocean-going fleet being built up by the Canadian Government Merchant Marine. With a length of 251.0 feet, a beam of 43.6 and a depth of 23.6, she showed a tonnage of 2410 Gross, 1460 Net. Kirkwood bought her in 1923 for $100,000 with the help of Sir Thomas Wilson of Belfast. Renamed (b) TORHAMVAN (from the first syllables of Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver), she was placed in regular service between Lake Ontario and Vancouver. Due to the length of her run, she made only a few trips each year into the lakes. On the eastbound voyages from Vancouver, she often carried lumber consigned to east coast ports or even into the lakes and it is presumed that she engaged in this sort of trade during the winter months when the Great Lakes were inaccessible.
The service continued until 1926 when the competition from the Canadian Government fleet from whom TORHAMVAN had been purchased, forced the abandonment of Kirkwood's operations. GREYPOINT and TORHAMVAN were sold, the latter to the Lakefield Steamship Co. Ltd., of Montreal. Soon thereafter, TORHAMVAN stranded on the rugged coast of Newfoundland, becoming a total loss.
(Ed.'s Note: For many years we have been trying to pin down the eventual disposition of GREYPOINT mentioned in this article, but without success. We solicit the assistance of any readers who may have knowledge of the subject. Your help will be much appreciated.)
Sixty-four Years Ago
The January 3rd, 1907, issue of the "Marine Review" states that:
"The steamer WILLIAM B. KERR which was launched at the South Chicago yard of the American Shipbuilding Company, on Saturday last for the Weston Transit Company, North Tonawanda, New York, is the largest vessel on the lakes and indications are that she will continue to be so for some time to come. The two sister steamers, LeGRAND S. DeGRAFF and WILLIAM M, MILLS, are building at the Lorain yard."
The size of these ships must have been their salvation since, while many vessels of their age have long since been retired, all three units of this trio built for the Mills fleet are still on the lakes. DeGRAFF and MILLS are now GEORGE G. CRAWFORD and WILLIAM J. FILBERT of the U. S. Steel fleet and spent the 1971 season in reserve at Duluth. The first ship, WILLIAM B. KERR, is still active as KINSMAN INDEPENDENT.
Two issues ago, we reported on the retirement of ALEXANDER HAMILTON stating that she was the last sizeable sidewheel excursion steamer of North America. We erred of course, in not mentioning PRESIDENT (l924) and ADMIRAL (1907), somewhat modernized river excursion boats operating in New Orleans and St. Louis, respectively.