Friday March 2nd - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. Members' Open Slide Night. Each member is invited to bring about 20 slides of marine interest.
Friday, April 6th - 8:00 p.m. at the Museum. A Pictorial Visit to Sault Ste. Marie - an illustrated program by Dyke Cobb. This showing of photos will include many ships which do not frequent the lower lakes.
The Editor's Notebook
Our January meeting was most successful and we had a large attendance including a number of our Niagara area members. Mr. Jursa of the Harbour Commission showed a film, the highlights for marine enthusiasts being some old scenes of vessels wintering in the harbour prior to the redevelopment in the 1920's, and then gave us an address on the subject of harbour planning and the future of Toronto as a port. The address was followed by a rather spirited question period during which a number of subjects were debated.
It appeared that most of those in attendance approved of the serving of refreshments at the meeting and this practice will be continued providing always that we must keep the museum clean, and not make any additional work for its staff. Our thanks to Bruce Smith for his help with the coffee.
We hope that our readers will like the double photopage in this issue. We have included this month the photos which we had to omit from the January number due to the effects of the holiday season on our printer's workload. In particular, the photos illustrating the Lloyd Tankers fleet list may be of interest.
Any members who may be interested in obtaining back issues of SCANNER should arrange to contact the Editor as soon as possible, as the supply will soon be exhausted and we cannot keep stencils forever due to a storage problems.
Our readers will recall that, over the past several years, we have expressed the fear that Upper Lakes Shipping's veteran steamer GODERICH, (a) SAMUEL MATHER, (b) PATHFINDER, would shortly be discarded unless she were converted to oil fuel, a step which her owners seemed reluctant to take. It is, therefore with some considerable pleasure that we report that the conversion is being done this winter while the vessel is in winter quarters in Toronto's Turning Basin. Although no announcement of the job was made, the work is currently being put in hand by Ship Repair & Supply Ltd. This does, however, make one wonder whether, if GODERICH should be worth the expense of such a conversion, why RIDGETOWN and WIARTON did not receive the same treatment which would undoubtedly have prolonged their otherwise short service under the Upper Lakes flag.
Another Upper Lakes ship was in the news recently, this being the self-unloading stemwinder CANADIAN PROGRESS. She suffered a serious fire in her engineroom on January 4th but damage does not appear to have been too extensive. The firemen's job was made all the more difficult in that the ship is laid up for the winter across the face of the Richard L. Hearn hydro generating plant at Toronto, an area almost inaccessible to vehicles. Her storage cargo of grain was not damaged.
We have received confirmation that the laker MICHIPICOTEN was under tow of the Polish tug KORAL when she foundered off Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on November 17th, The KORAL has participated in a number of tows involving old lakers bound for European scrapyards.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications is proceeding with its plans to improve service on the Tobermory-South Boy Mouth ferry route currently operated by the Owen Sound Transportation Co. with its steamer NORISLE and motorship NORGOMA. It is planned that construction will begin this spring on a new three-acre dock complex situated to the west of the current ferry dock in the "Little Tub." The new docking facilities will be required since the new ferry, a 361-foot 500 passenger ship, will be a bow and stern loader, rather than a side loader as are the present ferries. No contracts have been let for ferry construction as yet, and since it will be some time before the new docks are ready, it seems that NORISLE and her newer running mate are secure for several seasons, (By the way, we are wondering whether our members might be interested in giving consideration to a group outing on NORISLE such as the S.S.H.S.A. staged in 1971. Comments please.)
The closing of the St. Lawrence section of the Seaway for the winter turned out to be a bit of a frost, if you will pardon the expression. Heavy ice caught the laker OTTERCLIFFE HALL in the Beauharnois Canal and eight other ships, including five salties rushing to reach salt water before closing, were stuck behind her. The icebreakers ERNEST LAPOINTE and NORMAN McLEOD ROGERS had to be despatched to the scene and they finally broke the plug. The salties managed to clear the system eventually, and OTTERCLIFFE HALL cut her trip short, going into layup at Valleyfield, Quebec.
Although this item has nothing to do with the lakes, we thought our readers might be interested to know that the Canadian Pacific Railway has brought to a close eighty years of shipping on Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, and the C.N.R. is also giving up operations on the lake. The C.P.R. operated a number of vessels, including sternwheel passenger steamers like SICAMOUS on the run from Okanagan Landing to Penticton, but in latter years has run only the 110-foot tug OKANAGAN and the car barge C.P.R. BARGE No. 8. Both these vessels have now been sold, and freight will be taken by road transport.
We understand that the dispute over salvage claims on the small salt water vessel RUMBA are continuing. The vessel, bound with locomotives from Toronto to Yugoslavia, was abandoned in the Atlantic on December 14th when a number of the engines broke loose, three being lost overboard. The crew was removed and the vessel taken in tow by the Dutch tug SMIT-LLOYD 103 which was in the area servicing oil rigs. The RUMBA was moored safely in the harbour at St. John's, Newfoundland, but the tug's crew and owners have laid salvage claims against the ship. Any of our members who watched RUMBA being loaded here prior to the trip are no doubt wondering, along with your Editor, how they ever got 16 locomotives stowed away in such a small ship to begin with.
In a previous issue, we reported the sale of the idle tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR to Beauchamp Investments Ltd. of Corunna, Ontario. It appears that she has been renamed GOLDEN TITAN and, if readers remember the sale several years ago of IMPERIAL CORNWALL and her renaming as GOLDEN SABLE, it will be obvious to all what use Mr. Beauchamp had planned for the WINDSOR. However, plans have now been changed and the WINDSOR will be chartered to a major Canadian tanker operator who will soon change her name. The name GOLDEN TITAN was painted on the vessel but was not officially registered and hence any of our members who have caught her on film bearing the name will indeed have a rare photo. More details on WINDSOR-TITAN, or whatever you wish to call her, will be published in these pages as soon as possible.
Rumours about the breakup of the C.S.L. package freight fleet are flying fast and furious, with observers talking about possible sales and conversions to tankers and cement boats. What is not rumour, however, is the fact that ESKIMO has been chartered to the Agence Maritime for coastal service. She cleared Montreal on her first trip on January 6th. It seems that of the remaining vessels, FORT WILLIAM, FORT ST. LOUIS and FORT CHAMBLY are those most likely to operate on the regular package freight route next season, but we shall have to wait and see.
A change of name has been made by the Hall fleet and should be recorded by historians for their records. The company has changed its corporate label from Hall Corporation (Shipping) 1969 Ltd. to Hall Corporation Shipping Ltd.
The salt water tanker CABATERN was a familiar visitor to the lakes during the past summer, operating under charter to the Hall Corp. We now learn that Halco is negotiating the purchase of the vessel and that the deal is expected to be completed by spring, there being a delay over a union grievance. The name chosen for the tanker is BAFFIN TRANSPORT and she will be renamed shortly.
We earlier reported that the Hindman tug DANA T. BOWEN had been sold to Don Lee and Francis McMillan. No sooner had she been moved to Port Lambton than she was resold, this time to John Purves of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She was taken to the Canadian Sault and is currently in winter quarters there.
A number of minor grounding incidents occurred late in the navigation season. GEORGIAN BAY went on near the upper entrance of the Iroquois Lock on November 15th and the salty IONIC (better known under her former name, ORIENT EXPORTER) at the same location on December 17th. Both were released without any serious problems. GOLDEN HIND struck bottom near Roberts Lending in the St. Clair River on December 5th but was freed the next day and obviously sustained little damage since she was able to complete the rest of her trips without repairs.
The self-unloader JACK WIRT received minor bow damage on December 15th when she struck a coal dock at Sandusky, Ohio. The WIRT was purchased during the summer by the Erie Sand Steamship Company as a replacement for the sunken SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. (II).
Two familiar German salt water vessels, units of the Poseidon Linien, will not be seen in these parts this summer, TRANSONTARIO has been sold British and is renamed NYANDA, while TRANSATLANTIC has been chartered to the Companhia de Navegacao Lloyd Brasileiro and is renamed LOIDE-HELSINKI.
The Upper Lakes Shipping self-unloader CAPE BRETON MINER, (a) CAPE BRETON MINER, (b) CONVEYOR, reverted to her original name during the past season and operated on the east coast along with ONTARIO POWER. She was to return to Port Weller Dry Docks this winter for refitting but she did not make it in time and we understand that she is in winter quarters at Lauzon. We assume that we shall see her come up first thing next spring.
Ever since the end of navigation, rumours have been rampant concerning a possible sale of Mohawk Navigation's bulk carrier GOLDEN HIND. At long last the news has broken, for on January 22nd, the Ontario Paper Company Ltd. announced that its subsidiary, the Quebec & Ontario Transportation Company Ltd., had purchased the vessel. This seems to confirm that Q & Q has no intention of getting out of the shipping business even though its main raisons d'etre, namely the pulp trade and the carriage of newsprint, have now been discontinued. GOLDEN HIND will be the largest vessel in the Q & O fleet and will bring the number of vessels operated by the firm to ten. GOLDEN HIND is 601.6 feet in length and readers will recall that she was built at Collingwood in 1952 as the tanker IMPERIAL WOODBEND. She was converted to a bulk carrier over the winter of 1953-54 at Humberstone after being sold to Mohawk. Her sale leaves Mohawk with only two vessels, the stemwinders SILVER ISLE and SENNEVILLE.
Late-season navigation has its dangers, but one would normally expect that any damage to a ship at this time of year would be a result of ice, not of collision. Strange things happen, however. It seems that on January 11th, the U.S. Steel orecarriers ROGER BLOUGH, PHILIP R. CLARKE and CASON J. CALLAWAY were labouring in heavy ice about nine miles East of Lansing Shoal located to the west of the Straits of Mackinac. At about 12:45 p.m. the CLARKE became stuck in the windrows and, before the BLOUGH could be stopped, she collided with the stern of the CLARKE. (We hope there were no cases of whiplash reported on the CLARKE!) The ships were upbound light at the time and were being escorted by the breakers MACKINAW and SOUTHWIND. The BLOUGH sustained only minor damage and temporary repairs were done at the Sault. The other steamer does not appear to have received any grievous damage.
The barge WILTRANCO will surely go down in the record books as the Jinx Ship of the Lakes for 1973 because of the number of accidents in which she was involved, but the tanker VENUS, a member of the Cleveland Tankers fleet, will perhaps run a close second. The motorship got the season off to a flying start when she suffered severe damage as a result of explosions which rocked her while lying at anchor in the St. Lawrence River on May 4th. Four crewmen were injured and her Master was killed in that incident. Now we have word that VENUS suffered a serious fire in her engineroom about January 10 while the vessel was in Little Bay de Noc. One crewman was lifted from the ship by helicopter but died en route to hospital. We do not as yet know the extent of damage to the ship.
With this issue, we continue our listing of the vessels wintering at some of the lake ports.
AVONDALE CANADIAN HUNTERCHARLES DICKW. M. EDINGTONFERNDALEFORT HENRYFRENCH RIVERMARTHA HINDMAN
LEADALEMANITOULINJ. W. McGIFFINRALPH MISENERNORDALEPINEDALEJOHN P. REISSOTTO M. REISS
FRANK A. SHERMANSILVER ISLEAlso hulls of threetugs for scrapping:FRANK DIXONA. M. GERMANSTRATHMORE
(In addition to harbour tugs, the following are also at Hamilton: tugs NIPIGON and D. LAUDER, dredge SHUNIAH, and tug JENNY T. II with bunkering barge S.M.T.B. NO. 7.)
E. B. BARBERBEAVERCLIFFE HALLCAPE TRANSPORTCEDARBRANCHCOVE TRANSPORTELMBRANCH
JOHN A. FRANCEFRANKCLIFFE HALLIMPERIAL COLLINGWOODIMPERIAL LONDONIMPERIAL WINDSORINLAND TRANSPORTIMPERIAL SARNIA
ISLAND TRANSPORTLAKESHELLJ. N. McWATTERSRED WINGV. W. SCULLYWILLOWBRANCH
HMCS ASSINIBOINE*BAYSHELLCABATERNEASTERN SHELLFUEL MARKETERIMPERIAL LACHINE
IMPERIAL VERDUNLIQUILASSIET.R. McLAGANMURRAY BAYP. S. BARGE NO. 1RIVAL (tug)
RICHELIEUSENATOR OF CANADA*SIMCOETEXACO-CHIEF*(* at Canadian Vickers)
AEGIS WISDOMBEAUPORT (D.O.T.)BLANC SABLONJEAN BOURDON (D.O.T.)FLO COOPER (tug)COTES DU NORD #DETECTOR (D.O.T.)EIDER (D.O.T.)FELICIA (tug)*
GLOBAL ENVOYHERBERT A. (tug)*ILE AUX COUDRESILE DE MONTREALILE D 'ORLEANSMARGRITMONTMAGNY (D.O.T.)NICOLET (D.O.T.)PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
PRINDOC*PUFFIN (D.O.T.)RADISSONSABLE ISLANDSPRUCEBRANCHTRANS ST. LAURENTVERENDRYE (D.O.T.)
(# under construction * in drydock)
AGAWA CANYONC. S. BANDF. H. DUNSFORDELMDALE
MONDOCLIONEL PARSONSPATERSONK. A. POWELL
For their help with these listings, our thanks to members Bill Bruce, David Kohl, Jim Marr, Dan Mccormick, Perry Haughton and Rene Beauchamp.
More on the Kinsman - Wilson Deal
We have recently had the opportunity to peruse the Judgment of the U.S. District Court with respect to the purchase by AmShip and the Kinsman Marine Transit Company of the vessels of the Wilson fleet and perhaps we should devote some lines to the terms of the decision so that our readers will know what to expect in the months and years to come.
Firstly, AmShip/Kinsman is allowed to purchase all the Wilson vessels on the condition that three of the ships in the group comprising THOMAS WILSON, J. BURTON AYERS, J. H. HILLMAN JR., FRANK R. DENTON, A. T. LAWSON, and BEN MOREELL be sold to a company not now engaging in lake transportation or to a Non-Captive American fleet. Kinsman has until December 15th to sell the three on its own, If they are not sold, then the U.S. Maritime Administration will set fair market values and Kinsman will have until December 15th, 1974, to sell the vessels at a price not exceeding the Determined value. If still unsold, Kinsman will have until December 15th, 1975, to sell them at the best price obtainable. If they still have found no buyers, a broker will be appointed to dispose of the ships.
It should be noted that C.L. AUSTIN, A.E. NETTLETON, B.F. JONES and EDWARD S. KENDRICK are not included in the above requirements although they have been purchased by Kinsman. The judgment requires that the JONES and KENDRICK be sold within one year, but specifies nothing with respect to either AUSTIN or NETTLETON. We night assume that JONES and KENDRICK will be scrapped since they have now been idle for some time. The judgment forbids Kinsman replacing the steamers once they are sold, and also prohibits replacement of the other three steamers which must be sold. (It appears the job of selling vessels will not be difficult, since the HILLMAN JR. has already been disposed of to the Columbia fleet.)
One of the terms of the decree requires that Litton Systems Inc. (the old parent of Wilson Marine) make a good-faith effort for three years to operate its Hull 102 (the barge now building at Erie, Pa.) but Litton will be permitted to bare-boat charter her to another operator during the specified period.
As for the future, the size of the Kinsman fleet will be strictly regulated and for five years the fleet will not be permitted to increase the number of vessels operated. It may replace vessels lost or sold (other than those the judgment requires to be sold) by similar tonnage, but if it decides to purchase a ship, it will have to dispose of one already in the fleet. Thus, for five years to come, the Kinsman fleet will have exactly twenty ships.
In the immediate future, Kinsman will have to weed out some of its older vessels in order to keep to the number of vessels it had prior to the Wilson acquisition. We can look for a number of scrappings, we fear.
The whole thing is really quite involved and, despite the fact that Kinsman is getting some good ships in the deal, we wonder whether the Steinbrenners will regret having become involved in the messy situation. One thing is good - it will keep making lots of news for us to report in these pages!
The Rescue of the Steamer Hamonic
It is hard to imagine that there could be even one reader of these lines who has not heard of the lake passenger steamer HAMONIC. She is considered by many to have been the most graceful and well-proportioned vessel of her type ever built and she was certainly popular amongst ship photographers of her era.
HAMONIC, phtographed by Capt. Wm. J. Taylor, is seen downbound on a late-season trip with a full load of flour.The story and photographs of her building at Collingwood in 1908 have been published elsewhere and almost everyone knows of her destruction by fire at the Point Edward terminal on July 17th, 1945. Not many would know that she came very near foundering in Lake Superior in 1925 when she threw her propeller during a violent gale.
The following account is reprinted from the September 1937 issue of "U.S. Steel News", house organ of U.S. Steel and the Pittsburgh Steamship Company.
"The wind was 55 miles an hour, and the seas were sweeping over us." Thus wrote the late Captain George H. Banker in his log, in describing the violence of a Lake Superior storm when he maneuvered the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. steamer RICHARD TRIMBLE to rescue the Canadian passenger steamship HAMONIC of the Northern Navigation Co. Ltd.
It was November 6, 1925, and the HAMONIC was being tossed about in the trough of the sea. It was difficult enough for Captain Banker to navigate his own ship without thinking of adding a tow.
The TRIMBLE had passed out of Whitefish Bay into Lake Superior the night before in a heavy northwest gale. At 11:00 p.m., when she was about 75 or 80 miles above Whitefish, the wind blew the vessel around, and the captain started her back for Whitefish Point under check. It was then that she first caught sight of the HAMONIC, but we shall let the captain's log tell the story.
"We ran only a few minutes when we saw the HAMONIC, which we had previously seen in the trough of the sea, blowing distress signals and showing a red flare light. When we saw the signals of distress, we changed our course over toward him and went down across his stern about 300 ft. away - this was about 1:30 a.m. Someone on board the HAMONIC sang out that their wheel was gone......
"At the time I went under the HAMONIC's stern ... the sea was washing all over us. It was an awful sea and blowing a gale from the Northwest, The wind varied from West to Northwest to West Northwest. We could do nothing in the night. It was snowing hard and for a while I could not see him. I could not hear anything in the pilothouse on account of the wind. I checked down to stay as near to him as possible and went at various speeds down before the wind, thinking to get back to him sometime before daylight.
"At 7:00 a.m. I turned around head into the wind. It was still snowing. I went back looking for the HAMONIC. Located him about 9:45 a.m., and at 10:30 a.m. went across his bow close to him and sang out for him to get his towline ready and we would try to pick him up,
"The Captain called out 'all right'. The wind was 55 miles an hour and the seas were sweeping over us. The seas seemed bigger than they had been. When we would turn, we would roll our decks under.
"We went down before the wind and turned around and went up to windward of him about two miles and turned again and came down close to his bow. He was lying in the trough of the sea heading about North Northeast. The wind was then from about the North Northwest. We went through the maneuver three times before we could get his line. He put out about 300 ft. of 3/4--inch line with a life preserver on the end, which floated dead to windward of his bow. This made the operation very dangerous. We had to pass within about 25 ft. of his bow to get the line. Our men about midships finally got hold of the line with grappling hooks and pulled it on deck. At about the same time one of our men forward got a heaving line to the HAMONIC over her bow. But seeing that the 3/4--inch messenger was the best, we hauled in the heaving line and hauled the HAMONIC's towline on board by means of the 3/4-inch messenger.
"The towline was a 10-inch line. I held the stern of the TRIMBLE as best I could about 75 or 100 ft. from the bow of the HAMONIC while we made the towline fast. The towline led from his bow to our stern chock. Seas were coming over our stern and the men were in constant danger from these seas. Even after we got the line the seas came right over our stern. After we got the line made fast we had to maneuver very carefully because both vessels were jumping and rolling very heavily. We had squalls of snow right along and the weather was very cold. Our thermometer was washed overboard from the front of our observation cabin and we were all covered with ice. The HAMONIC put out about 500 ft. of towline and we got him down abreast Whitefish Point at 6:21 p.m. November 6. At the time we passed Whitefish, the wind was about 30 miles per hour from the West and increasing. At the time we got to Iroquois, at about 9:00 p.m., the wind had increased to about 35 or 40 miles per hour from the Southwest and was increasing.
"We left the HAMONIC at Iroquois Point. He anchored there .... The towline was let go by us after the second mate called up over the phone that the HAMONIC had let go her anchor.
"The only talk I had with the Captain of the HAMONIC was when I told him to have his towline ready and I saw him standing on his bridge in a big fur coat and he replied 'all right'. That was just before we started to pick up the HAMONIC.
"We had water in the TRIMBLE until she was drawing about 19 ft. aft and about 13 ft. 6 in. for'd.
"Practically our entire time from 2 a.m. to 9 p.m. November 6 was devoted to the HAMONIC. I was 48 hours without sleep and for 30 hours I didn't even have a meal.
"The topworks of the HAMONIC were badly battered and I later heard at the Soo, on the way down, that she was badly smashed up. She was rolling so hard that it would make you sick to look at her and they could hardly walk on her decks."
(Ed. Note: RICHARD TRIMBLE still serves the U.S. Steel fleet. She is a 580-footer built in 1913 at Lorain by American Ship.)
A Return Visit For Lloyd Tankers Limited
There's nothing your Editor likes better than to get mail about articles we have run in our journal. And boy, did we get mail about our story on the Lloyd Tankers fleet. We were pleased to see that our efforts brought enjoyment to so many readers.
As you all know, we take pains to correct any erroneous information that may creep into SCANNER, and we also publish any additional information which may come to light on a subject we have written up. With these ideas in mind, then, the following information should be added to our January Fleet List.
BRUCE HUDSON - It seems that we were a year out in our story of the HUDSON's second escapade on Lake Ontario. It should read as follows: The HUDSON in tow of ETHEL, was cut adrift on November 16, 1935 (not 1936) while ETHEL went to Cobourg (not Port Hope) for bunkers. When the tug returned and could not find HUDSON, she went to Oshawa from which port the crew telephoned the Port Credit office, only to learn that the steamer BRULIN had picked up the barge and towed her to Port Weller. In addition to BRULIN, the package freighter ELMBAY and the tanker SIMCOLITE also stood by the drifting HUDSON.
ROY K. RUSSELL - They say that there is many a slip, etc., but how we managed this goof we will never know. Somehow we managed to pick up a couple of completely erroneous registry numbers for this ship even though we had the correct ones in our records. Anyway, as JAPAN, she carried official number U. S. 75323 (not 161767), and when she came Canadian she was given number Can. 126526 (not 133752). The numbers we quoted the first time actually belonged to the tug MUSCALLONGE (q.v.) Russell actually purchased the vessel in 1928 and then resold her immediately to Ohio Tankers Corp. (Secord). They had her converted to a tank barge at Buffalo by the King Iron Works during the winter of 1928-29. She did not come back into Canadian registry until 1932. It would appear that Russell had some interest in the ship even during the period when Secord owned her, but this cannot be proven at the present time.
RIVAL - The date of the sinking of this Sin-Mac tug in the Welland Canal should read November 10, 1932 (not 1931). She was, of course, subsequently raised and on December 8th, 1932, she was towed into Port Dalhousie by CHAMPLAIN. RIVAL wintered in the Port and was taken in the Spring of 1933 to Sorel, Quebec, where she was repaired and refitted to resume her duties.
MUSCALLONGE - Fortunately, we now have some more information on the owners of this tug during the second decade of the century. She was first brought into Canadian registry in 1913 when she was owned by Norton Griffiths Dredging Company Ltd., Montreal. She was sold in 1916 to Roger Miller & Company (P.E.I.) Ltd., Montreal. In 1917 she was sold to the Sincennes McNaughton Line Ltd., Montreal, and in 1928 this firm changed its name to Sin-Mac Lines Ltd. and the ownership of MUSCALLONGE was accordingly altered.
Our thanks go to Jim Kidd and George Ayoub for their help with much of this information. We welcome comments from any other readers who may have something to add.
Ship of the Month No. 28
During the late 1890's, the fleet of John D. Rockefeller's Bessemer Steamship Company went through a period of great expansion and constructed many steamers and barges. Although they were neither the largest nor the last vessels built for Bessemer, it would be fair to say that SAMUEL P. B. MORSE of 1898 and her near-sister DOUGLASS HOUGHTON of 1899 were by far the most impressive Bessemer steamers. True, they were surpassed in size by the later CHARLES R. VAN HISE and GENERAL ORLANDO M. POE, but the MORSE and HOUGHTON were distinctive in appearance and outstanding by way of the power they possessed.
In 1909 the camera of A. E. Young caught DOUGLASS HOUGHTON, still with two funnels, upbound above the Soo Locks.SAMUEL F. B. MORSE appeared in 1898 from the West Bay City yard of F. W. Wheeler & Company and was followed by the large bulk barges JOHN FRITZ and JOHN A. ROEBLING. The DOUGLASS HOUGHTON made her appearance in 1899, the order for her construction and for the largest barge of all, JOHN SMEATON, having been placed with the Globe Iron Works of Cleveland. The HOUGHTON was their Hull 78.
Given Official Number U.S. 157552, DOUGLASS HOUGHTON measured 456.0 feet in length, 50.0 feet in the beam, and 23.9 feet in depth. Her tonnage was 5332 Gross and 4034 Net. Since she and the MORSE were designed to tow the largest barges, they had to be very powerful and were, in fact, the most powerful ore carriers on the lakes for a number of years. HOUGHTON was fitted with quadruple expansion engines built by Globe and having cylinders of 18 1/2, 26 1/2, 39 and 56 inches, and a stroke of 42 inches. Her Indicated Horsepower was 2300. Presumably because of the large number of stokers required to feed her furnaces, the steamer needed an unusually large crew of thirty men.
DOUGLASS HOUGHTON was a very distinctive vessel in her appearance. For her entire career, her bridge structure was set back off the forecastle, being located aft of number one hatch. While this improved her appearance, she was undoubtedly cursed by many an unloading gang whose job was made more complicated by the arrangement. The bridge structure consisted of a texas cabin and a small three-windowed pilothouse, the vessel being conned from an open bridge atop the pilothouse. In early photos, the HOUGHTON can always be readily distinguished from the MORSE since the former's pilothouse was rounded whereas her sister's was squared off. Both ships kept the same pilothouses for their entire operating lives, although in later years another deck was added between the texas and wheelhouse.
The most distinctive features of the two vessels, however, were their funnels. Due to the large number of fireboxes they possessed, they were each given two very large and tall stacks. One might have expected these to be mounted athwartship in usual lake fashion, but instead they were carried in tandem and looked all the more imposing in Bessemer colours, painted black and carrying the large white letter "B". These stacks may have been impressive but they hardly could have enabled one to call either ship handsome as they made the steamers look overly heavy aft.
The HOUGHTON was named for Dr. Douglass Houghton, the first State Geologist of Michigan, and one of the members of the Schoolcraft expedition to Lake Superior in 1832. Houghton located large quantities of copper in Upper Michigan in 1840 but more important, he was largely responsible for the first major discovery of iron ore in the Lake Superior area in 1844. The find was located at Negaunee on the Marquette Range, Tragedy struck in the autumn of 1845 when Houghton was accidentally drowned near Eagle River while continuing his explorations. The Bessemer ships were all named after famous gentlemen, most being inventors.
But back to the ship herself. She was commissioned by Bessemer in July of 1899 and within two months she was to be the cause of the largest shipping jam ever seen on the Great Lakes!
The date was September 5th, 1899, and DOUGLASS HOUGHTON, towing the barge JOHN FRITZ, was proceeding downbound in the St. Mary's River with a cargo of iron ore. Fate had it that she parted her steering chains while she was in the narrow Middle Neebish Channel a short distance north of Sailors' Encampment. Having lost her ability to steer, the HOUGHTON veered off to starboard and found the shore on the American side of the channel with her bow. As soon as the steamer's plight was observed, the barge dropped her stern anchors but they did not hold and the FRITZ rammed the HOUGHTON amidships, tearing a hole seven feet by three in the steamer's starboard side. JOHN FRITZ ran ashore but remained afloat. The HOUGHTON, however, immediately settled to the bottom and, with her stern protruding well out into the river, she completely blocked off the navigation channel. As a result of the accident, both upbound and downbound traffic was halted for five days and about a hundred ships were held up in what was to be known around the lakes as "The Houghton Blockade". There are numerous photos in existence showing row on row of delayed steamers and schooners waiting in the lower harbour at the Sault.
The Great Lakes Towing Company quickly despatched tugs, lighters, divers and wrecking equipment to the scene, including the large salvage tug FAVORITE. The barge was easily removed by salvage crews but the steamer presented a more difficult problem, After the hole in the ship's side was patched, part of the ore cargo had to be removed and the hull pumped free of water. Rock was blasted away from around the bow and tugs finally pulled the freighter free at 3:30 p.m. on September 10th. Largely as a result of this traffic stoppage, the Neebish Rock Cut (West Neebish Channel), was constructed as an alternate shipping route around the area.
In March 1901, J. P. Morgan and Elbert H. Gary, who were forming the United States Steel Corporation, bought out Rockefeller and thus DOUGLASS HOUGHTON passed to the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. She continued operation for this, the largest American lake fleet, until 1945. In 1910, however, it was decided that she and the MORSEL were more powerful than necessary and hence were uneconomical to operate. Accordingly they were each reboilered, this operation reducing their power somewhat, HOUGHTON received two single-ended Scotch boilers built in 1910 by the American Shipbuilding Company. They measured 14 feet by 11 1/2 feet, and like their predecessors, were coal fired. It was at this time that the second funnel was removed and thereafter, she and her sister looked more like regular bulk carriers.
DOUGLASS HOUGHTON was rebuilt about 1928 and at this tine her tonnage was altered to 4515 Gross and 3070 Net. Her carrying capacity was 7000 tons at a mid-summer draft of 19' 6". Despite the addition of many new vessels to the Pittsburgh Steamship Company's fleet during the 1920's and 1930's, she continued in operation and could frequently be seen towing one of the company's barges. She and her sister survived the purging of older tonnage which occurred early in the Second War when Pittsburgh traded a number of its older vessels to the U.S. Maritime Commission in return for newly-built steamers.
In June 1945, however, her career in the Pittsburgh fleet came to an end for, at that time, she was sold, along with the steamer MAUNALOA and the barges JOHN A. ROEBLING and JOHN FRITZ (her previous partner in misfortune) to the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd., Toronto, for use in the Canadian grain trade. She was enrolled as Can. 174976. For the next twenty-two years, the HOUGHTON was a familiar visitor to Canadian lake ports, and especially Toronto. She frequently towed the ROEBLING and on many trips the barge would be left to unload at Sarnia or Port Colborne while the steamer went on to Toronto with her cargo, returning later to pick up her barge or one left by another steamer.
The owners of DOUGLASS HOUGHTON changed their name in 1959 to Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. and have been known as such ever since. The company discontinued the use of barges in the early 1960's and was, as a matter of fact, the last lake shipping company to tow barges with bulk steamers. Thereafter, the HOUGHTON carried on alone, but she was in good company since Upper Lakes still operated several other veterans which, had been her running mates during the Pittsburgh years. The HOUGHTON was growing old, but she bore her years gracefully and her lines, if anything, improved with age. With her tall bridge structure set back to leave her bow uncluttered, with the jaunty rake to her by now more reasonably sized funnel, and with her bow lifting proudly with the sheer of her deck, she presented a most majestic appearance.
In 1967, however, she came to the end of her operating life and at the end of the season was laid up at Toronto. She was held in reserve during 1968, being tied up in the slip at the foot of Spadina Avenue along with HOWARD L. SHAW. In early 1969, the HOUGHTON, the SHAW, and another Upper Lakes Shipping veteran, VICTORIOUS, were sold to the Toronto Harbour Commission, They were all soon resold to the Government of Ontario and were moved to a slip just behind the east pier of Toronto's Eastern Gap. Here, during the summer months, they were one by one stripped of their cabins and machinery and the hulls loaded with stone. They were then towed to the site of the Ontario Place development on the shore of Lake Ontario outside the Western Gap, just off the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The ships were then sunk onto a prepared bed of stone to form a breakwater across the unprotected front of the growing complex. Their decks were capped with cement and visitors may now walk along a promenade atop the trio of steamers that served the lake trade for so long.
The three hulls form a long curve, sunk stern to bow, and the HOUGHTON is the most easterly of the three. The government, apparently anxious to preserve some memory of the vessels' past, has left the name visible on the HOUGHTON's bow which protrudes out past the landfill and on the forecastle has been erected a double-deck observation platform shaped very much like a ship's bridge. On clear summer nights, when the sun is sinking in the west, an observer looking out from the inner harbour into the sunset can spot the silhouette of DOUGLASS HOUGHTON's new "superstructure" and, with a little imagination, can picture her once again making for the Western Gap with another cargo of grain.