This cool old photo from the Library of Congress shows ships at dock on Mackinac Island, including the black hulled steamer Juniata. Head over to the LOC for a lot more from Mackinac.
Above is a portrait of Elsie Schuenemann at the wheel of the Christmas Ship, near the Clark Street Bridge on the Chicago River in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. The boat carried Christmas trees to Chicago from Michigan. Her father, Captain H. Schuenemann, died when the Rouse Simmons, a ship carrying Christmas trees, sank in 1912.
The trees behind her likely came from the woods of Escanaba. Though the story of Barbara Schuenemann and her three daughters carrying on the tradition of the Christmas Tree Ships has perhaps been a little over-romanticized, there can be little doubt that the Schuenemann family and the many others who participated in the difficult trade of hauling Christmas trees south as the storms of winter closed in were heroes cut from a cloth that isn’t found too often today.
If you’d like to read more about all the Christmas tree ships (there were many more than just the famous Rouse Simmons) I recommend Christmas Tree Ships from Fred Neuschel. He has also written a book called Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships (available from UM Press). The National Archive also has The Christmas Tree Ship: Captain Herman E. Schuenemann and the Schooner Rouse Simmons that details the Schuenemann’s story.
You can also see Rich Evenhouse’s cool video of diving the Rouse Simmons.
The sun rose on Lake St. Clair at about 6:30 AMthis morning. If you were there, maybe you were lucky enough to see something like Tom’s photo of the Cuyahoga headed into the sunrise. If not, at least we can be happy that there’s folks like him willing to get up and out for incredible shots like this.
Have a great weekend everyone!
The S.S. Aquarama was the largest passenger ship ever to operate in the Great Lakes. We’ll head to Ohio (gasp) for this article on the Aquamara from Cleveland Historical:
The Aquarama began its life in 1945 as a transoceanic troop carrier called the Marine Star: 520 feet and 12,733 tons. It made only one Atlantic Ocean trip before combat ceased. Eight years later, the ship was purchased by Detroit’s Sand Products Company and taken to Muskegon, Michigan, where it underwent an $8 million, two-year conversion, and was reborn as a nine-deck luxury-class ferry capable of carrying 2,500 passengers and 160 cars. The rechristened Aquarama also touted five bars, four restaurants, two dance floors, a movie theater, a television theater, and a playroom. Special events often were held in conjunction with day or evening cruises. For example, on June 10, 1962, passengers were treated to a style show from Lane Bryant’s Tall Girl Department. The next month, evening cruisers on the Aquarama could watch the Miss World finals. Regular shipboard entertainment included musical performances, dancing, marionette shows, games, and contests.
The cruise portion of the ship’s life actually began in 1955, with tours to various Great Lakes ports and a brief stint as a “floating amusement palace” docked along Chicago’s Navy Pier. Soon after, service began focusing solely on runs between Cleveland and Detroit: six hours “door to door” with Cleveland-based passengers embarking in the morning from (and returning in late evening to) the West 3rd Street pier. For the next six years, the Aquarama was extremely popular but never profitable. Part of the problem may have been frequent “incidents”: One summer, the Aquarama backed into a seawall. A year later, it hit a dock in Cleveland. A week after that, it banged into a Detroit dock, damaging a warehouse. Alcohol issues also were recurrent: Accusations included untaxed booze and liquor sold in Ohio waters on Sunday. Still, the ship’s most likely death knell was simply high operating costs.
The Aquarama made its last trip on September 4, 1962. It then was towed back to where it had been rebuilt–Muskegon, Michigan, ostensibly to continue as cruise vessel. Unfortunately, a prohibitively large dredging investment was needed to accommodate the harbor. The Aquarama thus sat dockside—residing (but not operating) later in Sarnia, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, where entrepreneurs hoped in vain to convert it to a floating casino. In 2007 the Aquarama was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, where it was broken up for scrap.
This photo from Boatnerd shows the Aquarama unloading passengers from Cleveland at Detroit’s city park next to the J.W. Westcott Co. dock, 1963. Another view. Hartland Smith, William Hoey collection. More pics at Boatnerd.com.
Read more about the Aquamara at Wikipedia.
St. Marys Challenger lived up to its name by defying that assertion longer than its counterparts. But after 107 years, the laker was taken out of service in November 2013 to be converted to a barge. Built in 1906, Challenger was the oldest operating freighter on the Great Lakes.
The decision to convert the 551-foot cement carrier followed a series of upgrades spanning several decades, including extensive hull rebuilding, installation of a self-unloading cargo system and a myriad of other structural upgrades. In the end, the owner was left with a Skinner Marine Uniflow four-cylinder reciprocating steam engine burning heavy fuel oil, outdated DC electric and an aged mechanical propulsion system that made operating the boat an ever-increasing expense.
…Port City Marine, based in Muskegon, Mich., considered its alternatives, including retrofitting Challenger with a diesel engine. Not only would that have cost about $20 million — nearly double the barge conversion project — but it would have saddled the company with ongoing expenses. And while a crew of 25 was needed to operate Challenger, the articulated tug-barge (ATB) can operate with 11.
Read on for lots more!
Capistrano has their swallows, but a sure sign of Spring in Michigan is when the freighters return to the Great Lakes. One of the best places for shipwatching is right where Krystal took this photo: Mission Point at the mouth of the North Channel near the Soo Locks.
We move from a Coast Guard photo yesterday to a Navy photo today. While this photo showing a starboard bow view of the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS Michigan (SSBN-727) was taken sometime before June of 1982 in the north Pacific, I’m going to allow it. mLive reports that the USS Michigan nuclear submarine is now operating in Korean waters:
The USS Michigan is more than 560 feet long and weighs more than 18,000 tons when submerged and is regularly deployed throughout the Western Pacific from its home port of Bremerton, Wash.
It was first launched in 1980 and commissioned two years later. It was built to carry the Navy’s third generation submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Trident C-4. The Michigan carried out its primary mission of deterrence for nearly two decades in over 60 missions.
At the end of the Cold War, it was spared from decommission and converted with two other ships to the Ohio-class sea frame. In 2007, it followed the USS Ohio, Florida and Georgia as a guided missile submarine.
The vessel is capable of hitting speeds of over 20 knots while submerged and can drop over 800 feet below sea level. It also contains 22 tubes that carry seven Tomahawks each.
…The Michigan is the third ship to bear the name in the U.S. Navy’s history. The original Michigan was the first iron warship in the U.S. Navy and likely the first iron or steel warship of its size in the world, according to a biography on the Navy’s website.
View the photo bigger and see more pictures at the USS Michigan photo archive from the Navy.
The USS Edson is located at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in Bay City. The say (in part):
The keel for the Forrest Sherman class destroyer USS EDSON (DD-946) was laid at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, on 3 December 1956. EDSON is one of the relatively few ships of the U.S. Navy named for a United States Marine, in this case Major General Merritt Austin Edson.
Edson was launched on 4 January 1958 by General Edson’s widow, Ethel Robbins Edson, who broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the ship’s bow. EDSON’S final fitting out and sea trials occupied the next ten months, and on 7 November 1958, EDSON was commissioned under the command of CDR Thomas J. Moriarty, USN. She then sailed in early 1959 to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal to reach her original homeport of Long Beach, California, on 2 March 1959.
For the next two decades, EDSON served as a valuable member of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, earning a reputation as a Top Gun ship and the nickname, “The Destroyer.” Her ship’s crest included a skull copied from the shoulder patch worn by then Colonel Edson’s First Marine Raider Battalion.
Note that the Museum itself is closed for the winter until March!
More ships & boats on Michigan in Pictures!
via today’s Five Things you need to know about Michigan on Absolute Michigan comes a Detroit Free Press report on the potentially dire consequences for the US & Michigan if the Soo Locks fail:
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report indicates a 6-month shutdown of the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, if one occurred, would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation.
The report, obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act, paints a grim picture of the outcome of any long-term shutdown of the Poe, the only one of the so-called Soo Locks able to handle the 1,000-foot-long vessels that each year move millions of tons of iron ore from mines in Minnesota and northern Michigan to steel mills dotting the lower Great Lakes and beyond.
….But what is also clear from the Homeland Security report is that while a longer-term shutdown would be catastrophic, even a shorter one could have a much wider impact than previously thought: If such a closure occurred at the Poe during the March 25-Jan. 15 shipping season, for instance, as much as 75% of the nation’s steel output could be halted within two to six weeks.
Read on for more, including a video of a ship going into the locks.
More Soo Locks on Michigan in Pictures!
The website Michigan History was produced by someone at MSU. While I have no idea who or why they gave up on what was shaping up to be a cool website, the history checks out. The page on Port Huron’s Blue Water Bridge says:
Perhaps Port Huron’s greatest claim to fame is the Blue Water Bridge, a historic arcing bridge that serves as a means of transportation between Canada and the United States. The bridge is located over the St. Clair River, and connects Port Huron, Michigan, to Sarnia, Ontario. In 2013 the Blue Water Bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary, and a closer look at its history show why Port Huron residents take pride in the structure.
The original Blue Water Bridge was constructed in 1938, and was built by the American Bridge Company of New York, and the Hamilton Bridge Company of Ontario. The original bridge is an arch cantilever bridge, which was designed to not only support large amounts of traffic, but also to have an aesthetic arching look. In the late 1980s the border crossing became so popular that plans for a new bridge were brought up. However, instead of demolishing the old bridge, a new one was built in 1997 beside the old bridge, to support eastbound traffic.
The Michigan cost for building the new bridge, and renovating the old one was $62.6 million dollars. (Michigan Department of Transportation) The project was considered an enormous success and won awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Ontario Institution of Steel Construction, and the Federal Highway Administration. For Port Huron residents the bridge signifies the close connection with Canada, and the willingness of the two sides to work closely together.
Click for more about the history of Port Huron. If you want to get really in depth, The Construction History of the Blue Water Bridge (pdf) is an excellent account that details the political maneuverings and construction challenges of both bridges.
There’s more Michigan bridges on Michigan in Pictures, and since you’ve read this far, Boatnerd’s page on the Saginaw has everything you’ll want to know about the self-unloading bulk carrier that was launched May 9th, 1953 as the John J. Boland. It’s one of three near sister vessels built by this shipyard: The John G. Munson which is still plying the lakes and the Detroit Edison that suffered a career-ending grounding in Lake Michigan in December of 1980.