Anchors Aweigh: S.S. Greater Detroit Anchor Recovered

ss-greater-detroit

Launch of the SS Greater Detroit,  courtesy Great Lakes Maritime Institute

Thanks to an alert reader who let me know that the dredge in yesterday’s photo was on the way back from a mission to retrieve a 6000-pound anchor from the Detroit River for the Great Lakes Maritime Institute. There’s a video below and you can get the story via mLive:

The anchor emerged from the river just before the sun set behind the Ambassador Bridge, catching its first glimpse of daylight for the first time in 60 years.It once belonged to the luxury steamer Greater Detroit, one of the two largest side-wheel steamers ever built, which ferried passengers around the Great Lakes in style from the mid-1920’s through the mid-1950’s.

The Great Lakes Maritime Institute has a nice history of the SS Greater Detroit aka “Leviathan of the Great Lakes” that says in part:

The Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company was planning on expanding after World War I by providing more daily commercial traffic on Lake Erie between Buffalo, New York and Detroit, Michigan.

…In 1922 the naval architect Frank E. Kirby provided the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company with a architectural drawing for a massive side wheel steamer that would carry passengers and freight on the Buffalo to Detroit route. The plan called for the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation company to construct two vessels, the S.S. GREATER DETROIT and the S.S. GREATER BUFFALO which would provide continual service across Lake Erie.  The length overall of the vessels was 536 feet and with the side paddle wheels the overall width of the vessel was ninety six feet.

…The Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company was so proud of the Steamer GREATER DETROIT that when they issued new stock certificates in 1925 the image of this vessel was engraved at the top of the certificates. The vessel could not only carry some 2,127 passengers, but provided 625 staterooms and made allowances for the storing of 103 automobiles on the main deck.

There were excellent accommodations provided for the passengers and the crew. In the pilothouse there was a separate steering wheel for the bow rudder to help navigate the narrow rivers and harbors. The bow rudder also helped when the steamer left the Detroit dock. At 5:30 P.M. the captain would ring the telegraph to the engine room and request the engineer to start the engines and to back away from the dock. Using the Detroit River current and the bow rudder the vessel would swing out into the current and turn around headed downriver to Lake Erie.

Read on for lots more including some cool old brochures and click to their homepage for more in the recovery!

4 thoughts on “Anchors Aweigh: S.S. Greater Detroit Anchor Recovered

  1. Extremely interesting. Have you by any chance heard of the Aquarama ? What happened to that ship; it ran from Detroit to Cleveland and vice-versa. Again, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading about the S.S. Greater Detroit – – – Thank’s to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Farlane…Imagine the elegance and romance of sailing across Lake Erie during the heyday of the Greater Detroit. Thank you so much for sharing all of the accompanying photos of this amazing piece of Michigan history. What a grand old lady she was!!!

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. I used to take the Badger across Lake Michigan all the time when my dad lived in Wausau. I loved it, and you can tour the City of Milwaukee in Manistee and it has great woodwork and really cool staterooms!

      Like

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