Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Scanner, v. 36, no. 6 (March 2004), p. 8

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Ship of the Month - cont'd. 8 . was downbound from Detroit to Cleveland with a cargo of automobiles. No pas­ sengers were aboard. It is interesting to know that the chief engineer of the disabled boat is Leonard Nattress, a native of Amherstburg, son of the late Rev. Thomas Nattress who for many years was pastor of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. " The D & C managed to survive the bad years of the Great Depression which killed many of the last North American nightboat lines, but only barely. Things were so nasty in 1938 that GREATER BUFFALO remained in lay-up for the entire year while GREATER DETROIT made only a few special trips. They both were back in service in 1939 but, in 1942, the BUFFALO was requisitioned by the U. S. Navy and was converted to the training aircraft carrier (b) U. S. S. SABLE. The government paid the D & C $2, 500, 000 for GREATER BUFFALO, and this money undoubtedly helped keep the rest of the D & C fleet running. The war years brought the big passenger loads back to the D & C boats, but they deserted the ships again once peace returned and the automobile truly became king. The "Amherstburg Echo" of Thursday, August 15, 1946, reported: "The D & C steamer CITY OF CLEVELAND III, downbound on Monday [the 12th], caused consi­ derable damage to the dock at the waterworks dock. It is charged she didn't slow up while using the Amherstburg Channel and the swells almost took away the dock. There is talk of entering an action against the steamship company. " The same paper's edition of September 12, 1946, noted: "Over $1, 000 damage was done to the dock at the Municipal Swimming beach on August 15 [sic] when the D & C steamer CITY OF CLEVELAND III passed too close to the wharf [at a narrow section of the Detroit River between Bob-Lo Island and the old Am­ herstburg town waterworks]. This information was given to the Amherstburg Council on Friday evening after a letter had been read from the D & C Navigation Company on the matter. The letter stated that the captain's log showed there was no violation of the speed limit and pointed out there was a sweep scow in the vicinity at the time, and it was necessary for the boat to pass closer than usual to the dock. The matter has been referred to the in­ surance company, the letter concluded. " The report went on to indicate that the $1, 000 estimate for the wharf re­ pairs had been obtained from the McKenzie Engineering Company, but the in­ surers wanted a further breakdown of the damages. Council left the matter in the hands of Mayor F. T. Pickering and there were no further press reports concerning the outcome of the issue. In 1946, James Thayer McMillan died and, by 1947, the McMillan family inte­ rest in the D & C was acquired by George J. Kolowich, a banker from Ham­ tramck. He tried to keep the line running but he did not have the experience that previous owners and managers had. By this time, EASTERN STATES and WES­ TERN STATES were running the Detroit - Cleveland route, while GREATER DE­ TROIT, CITY OF DETROIT III and CITY OF CLEVELAND III were pooled on the Buffalo line and one of the three almost always was pulled out for cruise service. Not only had trim on the steamers' upper decks become white by this time, but by 1948 CITY OF CLEVELAND III had been painted all white, probably in an effort to make her more fashionable for the cruise trade. Some sources have stated that the C III was all white only for the 1948 season, although GREA­ TER DETROIT, painted white in 1948, would keep the white hull for the rest of her life. However, photos prove that the CLEVELAND was white in both 1948 and 1949. The white CITY OF CLEVELAND III spent the summer of 1948 running seven-day cruises from Buffalo to Chicago, and likely did the same in 1949. She was back in dark green livery in 1950. The D & C boats all were converted to burn oil fuel at about this time in an effort to reduce coal soot and to make the ships more economical to operate. The CLEVELAND'S stacks remained all black throughout this period, but there had, in fact, been two stack colour changes over the years. Just for the

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