The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Door County Advocate (Sturgeon Bay, WI), 10 Aug 1904

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Look For Shorter Seasons. The following from the Milwaukee Sentinel of Tuesday will prove interesting reading:

"Lake seasons will not be so long as in the past," said Alfred Pearce of the Lake Seamen's union. "I would not be at all surprised if as the years go along vessels would lay up before December 1st; at any rate I do not think we shall see navigation open as late as Christmas, as has been the custom in other years. In spite of this, bigger business will be done every year on the lakes, but the large-tonnage boats will drive out the small freighters and take care of all cargoes offered more expeditiously than these. These monsters of the lakes carry more tonnage at comparatively less expense than it is possible for the smaller traders. They need fewer men and can handle their cargoes in faster time, advantages that appeal to every vessel owner.

"It is not so many years ago that the Helena, built by the Starkes of this port, was considered and I believe actually was, the largest freighter on the lakes. She had a gross tonnage of 2,083 and was 275 feet in length, of 40 feet beam, and 20 feet depth. She now belongs to the Gilchrist fleet and s (sic) one of the smallest of the holdings of that company. When the Helena came into the port of Milwaukee and took on her first cargo of grain more ado was made of it than when the Augustus B. Wolvin came in here recently with the record-breaking cargo of coal. It would cause no excitement whatever if she came into port today. The truth is that scores of boats have been built since that time of more than twice the size of the Helena. And yet that is not twenty years ago.

"No one can predict what the next twenty years will bring. One thing is certain, there will be need for fewer sailors. Their seasons may be shorter, but all will find plenty to do. Increased wages will follow, especially since the lake seaman of today must be of a more intelligent type than he of a score of years ago. He must have some mechanical instinct. It is more brains and less brawn today."

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10 Aug 1904
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  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 44.83416 Longitude: -87.37704
Eric Bonow
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Door County Advocate (Sturgeon Bay, WI), 10 Aug 1904