Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Scanner, v. 24, no. 6 (March 1992), p. 5

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Ship of the M o n t h No. STONEFAX 195 The decade of the 1960s was a p a r t i c u l a r l y intere s t i n g one on the Great L a kes. True, those years saw the re ti rement of man y of the more v e nerable lake steamers, e s p e c i a l l y on the U . S. side of the border, and the exodus of old lakers to overseas sc ra pyards began. Muc h to the del ig ht of sh ip wa tchers, however, a s i g n i ficant numb er of reti re d U . S. ve ssels were ac quired by C a n a dian fleets and given a new lease on life in the vari o u s C a n adian lake trades. Most of these ships that cr ossed into C a n a d i a n r e g istry (some of them via foreign e nrollment in Berm ud a or the Ba hamas to avoid C a n a d i a n g overnment import regulations) had been use d hard over the years and were ver y nearly at the end of any pos si bl e usef ul ne ss . However, the C a n a d i a n fleets needed more a d ditional tonnage than could be p r o d u c e d in the form of new c o n s t r u c tion from the shipyards, and for a few years, these older ships served their new owners well, even though they were far from econo m i c a l to operate. As well, in those years of the 1960s, there were c o n s i d e r a b l y more C a n a d i a n fleets in existence than there are today. Some of them were small "shoestring" operations, wit h only one or two boats, while others were larger concerns, some of w h i c h had been in business for m a n y years, but which, for one reason or another, did not survive the leaner years that were to come. Back in the mi d- Si xties, how m any of us w ould have said wit h any ce r t a i n t y that we w ould see the de mise of such longtime and r e spected fleets as those operated by Hindman, Reoch, Que be c & Ont ar io Tr ansportation, and even the v e nerable Hall Co rp or ation? The steamer w h i c h we have cho se n to fe ature in this issue was a hands o m e old ship, and one that fell into both of the groups we have m e n t i o n e d above. She crossed the border at the outset of the 1960s (in fact, she was one of the first to do so in that period), and her new owner was one of the fleets that since has gone out of operation. As well, all but one of her previ ou s owners are no longer in existence. So now seems to be an a ppropriate time to feature her in these pages, p a r t i c u l a r l y as she has been gone from the lakes for just over twenty years. Our steamer began her life as Hull 609 of the West Bay City Ship Bu ilding Company, w hich c o n s t r u c t e d her at its yard on the Saginaw River at West Bay City, Michigan. This s h i p b uilding firm was fo rmed in June of 1899 as the succes sor to F. W. Wheeler & Company, and was an affi li at e of the A m e r i c a n Ship Building Company. Hull 609 was laun ch ed into the Sagi n a w River on S a t urday, April 18, 1903, and she was chris t e n e d SINALOA. First en rolled at West Bay City, she was given U . S. Offi ci al Num be r 117248. An almost exact sistership, named SONOMA, was the yar d ' s Hull 610, lau nc he d on Ma y 23, 1903. SINA L O A was a s t e e l - h u l l e d bulk carrier, 4 1 6 . 0 feet in length, 50. 0 feet in the beam, and 2 4 . 0 feet in depth, wit h tonnage of 4539 Gross and 3503 Net. She had four cargo holds, wit h 23 eigh t- fo ot hatches on twel ve -f oo t centres. She was powe r e d by a t r i p l e - e x p a n s i o n en gine w ith cy linders of 20 1/4, 33 3/4 and 55 1/8 inches di ameter and a stroke of 42 inches, whi ch was rated at 1 , 310 I n d ica ted Horse p o w e r or 196 Nominal Horsepower. Steam at 170 pounds per square inch was pr oduced by two coal-fired, s i n g l e-ended Sc otch boilers w h i c h m e a s u r e d 13'2" by 11'6". The engine and boilers wer e all made for the ship in 1903 by the De troit S h i p b u i l d i n g Company. (Incidentally, we should note that altho u g h Lloyd's Re gister and most other sources always showed the stroke of the engine as 42 inches, the A m e r i c a n Bureau of S h i pping c o n s i s t e n t l y re corded it as 40 inches. In the same vein, the A . B . S. always showed the steam er 's lengt h as 4 2 3 . 0 feet, while Lloyd's, the U . S. Merchant Vessel s listing, and all other sources showed it as 4 1 6 . 0 feet. For various reasons, we choose to bel ie ve the data given by Lloyd 's and the other sources, over those re ported by the A m e r i c a n B u r e a u . ) The first owner of SI NALOA was the Super io r Steam sh ip Company, of Duluth, Minnesota, one of the man y small a ffiliated compa ni es mana g e d by George

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