Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Grace McMillan (Steamboat), U85595, 3 May 1879
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      The smaller of the two boats being built at Wyandotte was successfully launched yesterday afternoon in the presence of a large gathering of people, many of whom went down from Detroit on the steamer FORTUNE, which, therefore, carried the broom for running on the first excursion of the season. It was expected that the boat would be launched at 3 o'clock, but unavoidable delays occurred, so that the hour was much later when it was accomplished. At 15 minutes before 5 o'clock, however, the last prop was knocked away, the boat began to slide down endways, slowly at first, then faster and faster, until finally the " GRACE McMILLAN," which was announced by the burgee being unfolded simultaneously with the first move of the craft, was in her native element, while the cheers of the crowd, the firing of a small cannon and the blowing of whistles betokened the delight of those who witnessed the event of her successful debut as a pleasure boat. There was not a hitch of the slightest moment, and a more graceful sight, for one of the kind, probably was never looked upon. At present only the hull is finished and the gallow frame in place, but on Monday the hull will be towed to Detroit, where work will be prosecuted with all vigor, it being the intention of her owners to have her completed by June 15. The following description will be of interest:
      The dimensions of the boat are: Length of keel, 153 feet; over all, 160 feet. Beam of hull, 26 feet; entire beam including guards, 50 feet. Depth of hold, 9 feet. The hull is entirely of iron, until the deck beams are reached, which together with the deck, are of white pine. The engine frame is of Georgia pine, purchased in New York. The hull, for beauty, cannot be excelled. Forward, the lines are simply perfect, then widening out until the extreme fullness of the boat is found, which is at the paddle boxes, they lead astern in a graceful manner, indicating that speed will be one great characteristic. The engine for the boat is the one formerly in the well known wrecking steamer MAGNET. It is from drawings prepared by Mr. Joseph Belknap, of New York, and though well along in years, will be, when its thorough overhauling is completed, every particle as good as new. Its cylinder is 32 inches in diameter and 10 feet stroke. The shaft is nine and a half inches in diameter, and the wheel 22 feet 6 inches in diameter and 17 feet face. Messrs. Fletcher, Harrison & Co., of New York, will set up the engine, and men to do the work are already here.
      The boiler is entirely of Otis steel, was built by the Detroit Locomotive Works, is similar to the one in the CITY OF DETROIT, is 8 feet diameter of shell and 16 feet long, with two furnaces. It contains two main flues of full width of fire boxes, with two Galloway tubes in each flue, and 109 return tubes. On the top of the boiler is a horizontal steam dome 30 inches in diameter and 12 feet long. The boiler will have a steam capacity of from 55 to 60 pounds pressure to the square inch, and it is expected the wheels will make from 28 to 30 revolutions per minute.
      In her cabin accommodations and appointments the boat will be perfect. On the main deck, aft, will be a ladies' saloon and a nursery, both elaborately fitted up, and furnished with all the modern improvements. The space in front of the ladies' cabin will be known as "Social Hall," and arrangements are so perfected that it can be closed in by sliding doors, closing the entrances from the gangways and the passage ways on each side of the engine, a la North River style. On one side of " Social Hall," immediately abaft the wheelhouse, will be the Clerk's office, and on the other side, a baggage room. In the center will be stairs leading to the upper deck. Forward, on the main deck, will be the kitchen, pantry, smoking and wash rooms, etc. The quarters for the crew will be aft, under the ladies' cabin. The main cabin, or saloon is to be 90 feet long, 26 feet wide, and 7 feet 6 inches in the clear. Around the sides will be a black walnut wainscoting, about 4 feet high, and above this will be plate glass windows, only divided by the necessary frame to hold them in place. The sash and inside blinds will be of cherry. The Gardner bent furniture will be used, but instead of being fastened to the deck will be left loose, so that it may be moved at will. In the after part of the main cabin will be located two state-rooms, furnished with elegant bed-steads, dressing-stands, etc., of the Queen Anne style. The hurricane deck will extend the whole width of the boat, from the stern to the forward part of the cabin, thus forming a stationary awning for that portion of the cabin deck outside the cabin.
      "Great expectations" are expected of this boat, and her owners confidently believe she will make at least 17 miles an hour. When her keel was laid it was for a boat to run between Detroit and the mouth of the river. She has, however, been chartered by the Lake Side Company to run between Toledo, Put-in-Bay, Lake Side and Sandusky, commencing as soon as completed. If she fulfills expectations she will run 150 miles between the hours of 5 A. M. and 10 P. M., making all landings. Her owners are Messrs. James McMillan, John S. Newberry, John Owen and D. Carter. It is also understood that Mr. Frank Kirby will have an interest in her. Mr. Kirby planned the boat, and thus far has superintended her construction, a fact that attests for him the highest mechanical skill. Capt. Duddleson, formerly connected with the Northern Transit Line, will sail the boat.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Sunday, May 4, 1879

NOTE:- later renamed IDLEWILD

      When the GRACE McMILLAN is finished she will show about one foot of green above the water and the rest of her hull will be white. Those are fast colors generally.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Monday, May 12, 1879

      GRACE MCMILLAN* Built May 3, 1879 Sidewheel Passenger - Iron
U. S. No. 85595 312 gt - 232 nt 160.9 x 26.0 x 7.9
      * Renamed (b) IDLEWILD - US - 1881
      Lenpthened 26' in 1889. Dismantled at Detroit in 1914; hull reduced to barge in 1919. Enrollment surrendered at Peekskill, N.Y., March 3, 1923, as "exempt."
      Detroit/Wyandotte Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio.

Item Type
launch, Wyandotte
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Grace McMillan (Steamboat), U85595, 3 May 1879