March 12, 2007
Crossing the Detroit River in winter c. 1904, LC-D4-22154
Under the headline of “Things I found when looking for something else” comes this photo from the massive Detroit Publishing Co. collection in the Library of Congress.
The ferry is identified as the steamer Lansdowne of Windsor, a vessel mentioned briefly in The Detroit River ferryboats in the Detroit News’ Rearview Mirror:
The old paddle-wheeled steamer, the Lansdowne, which by its retirement in 1956 was one of the oldest vessels still operating on the lakes, once carried passenger train cars across the Detroit River. It was resurrected briefly during the 1980s as a floating restaurant off downtown Detroit.
If you click the “More Photos” button at the top left of the article, you can see another (clearer) shot of the Lansdowne. The March 1970 edition of the Toronto Marine Historical Society’s Scanner had this to say:
For well over one hundred years there have been carferries operating across the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit, and a large portion of this period, 87 years in fact, could well be called “The Lansdowne Era.” For exactly this long, a major item on the Detroit River scene has been the paddle-driven railway ferry, LANSDOWNE.
This veteran, 294 feet in length, was completed in 1884 by the Detroit Dry Dock Co. at Wyandotte, where her iron hull was known as Hull 66. Her horizontal, low-pressure engines were built in 1872 by E.E. Gilbert & Sons at Montreal for the wooden carferry MICHIGAN (I) and they were placed in LANSDOWNE at the time of her completion. Originally equipped with four stacks and two pilothouses, the ferry now carries but two stacks and one bridge and looks somewhat gaudy in the Canadian National Railway’s new livery. Nevertheless, she is the last sidewheeler operating on the Great Lakes and holds a great charm known to anyone who has observed her or made a crossing in her.