Headed Out with the Cason J Callaway

Cason J Calloway

headed out, photo by Susan H

The Cason J. Callaway made an appearance this winter when she was locked in the ice on Lake Huron. Boatnerd’s page on the Callaway says that the 767′ ship took her maiden voyage on September 16, 1952, draws 36′ and is able to haul over 250,00 tons:

The Cason J. Callaway was one of the eight “AAA” class vessels which entered service during 1952 and 1953. She was the last of the trio of vessels in this class (the Philip R. Clarke and Arthur M. Anderson were the first two) built for Pittsburgh Steamship Company, who originally developed the blueprints used for all eight members of this class.

…Initially, the Callaway was used almost exclusively in the iron ore trade. In the early 1960s, the Callaway occasionally visited the St. Lawrence Seaway, often hauling grain from Toledo to ports on the St. Lawrence River and returning with iron ore. By the end of the 1960s, the Callaway returned to the traditional U.S. Steel iron ore trade route. She remained on this route regularly until her conversion to a self-unloader. After the conversion, the vessel began loading a wider variety of cargoes and visiting an even greater variety of ports. Ports such as Ashland and Green Bay, Wisconsin and Ontonagon and Dollar Bay, Michigan would occasionally become part of the Callaway’s trade route. By the late 1980s, the Callaway fell into a somewhat regular trade route, including a trip from either Duluth or Two Harbors with iron ore to a Lower Lakes port, often Lorain; one or two intermediate trips between ports on Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Erie; and a limestone load from quarries at Rogers City (Calcite) and Cedarville (Port Dolomite), Michigan back up to Duluth. An occasional odd cargo or port remains a possibility.

Susan had a great view of the Callaway as the ship headed out to the open water near Cedarville. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in her slideshow.

The Oldest Ship on the Great Lakes: The St. Mary’s Challenger

Departing........

Departing…….., photo by smiles7

7 years ago I shared the story of the Southdown Challenger on Michigan in Pictures. I was happy to see that the oldest operational freighter on the Great Lakes is still in action. The feature on the St. Marys Challenger on Boatnerd.com begins:

Currently holding the honors of being the oldest lake boat still trading on the Great Lakes, the self unloading cement carrier St. Marys Challenger was built as a traditional Great Lakes bulk carrier as hull #17 by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse (Detroit), MI in 1906. This veteran of the lakes was launched February 7, 1906 as the William P. Snyder for Shenango Steamship & Transportation Co. (subsidiary of Shenango Furnace Co.), Cleveland, OH. Retaining her original overall dimensions, the St. Marys Challenger is now powered by a Skinner Marine Unaflow 4 cylinder reciprocating steam engine burning heavy fuel oil rated at 3,500 i.h.p. (2,611 kW) with 2 water tube boilers. The power is fed to a single fixed pitch propeller and the vessel is equipped with a bow thruster. The vessel is capable of carrying 10,250 tons (10,415 mt) in 8 holds at mid summer draft of 21’09” (6.63m). Cargoes of bulk or powdered cement can be unloaded by a fully automated system including air slides, conveyor equipment and bucket elevators feeding a forward mounted 48’ (14.63m) discharge boom.

Of note, the St. Marys Challenger is one of only two remaining U.S. flagged vessels still active on the Great Lakes to be powered by the classic Skinner Marine Unaflow steam engine. The other vessel is the car ferry Badger (2) which is powered by two of these engines and, in turn, remains as the only coal fired vessel still in active service on the Great Lakes. The only remaining Canadian-flagged steamer powered by a Canadian-built (Vickers) Skinner Unaflow engine is the James Norris.

Read on for more and also check out this set of photos by Wade Bryant, who served aboard the Challenger.

Julie took this shot as the St. Marys Challenger steamed out of Charlevoix last week. Check it out bigger and see more in her boat slideshow.

Many more Michigan ships & boats on Michigan in Pictures!

Edmund Fitzgerald, 1975

Edmund Fitzgerald 1975

Edmund Fitzgerald 1975, photo by The Open Lake Group LLC

Wade writes that this photo by Roger LeLievre of the Fitzgerald as she passes downbound in the St. Mary’s River off Six Mile Point is one of his all time favorite views the Fitz. See it on black and in his Edmund Fitzgerald slideshow. Wade works the lakes and has some really cool photos of all kinds of ships in his photostream. He had this to say about the Fitz:

The 729 foot Str. Edmund Fitzgerald was launched into the Detroit River in 1958. Over the next 17 years she was considered to be the ‘best among the best” as the flagship of the Columbia Transportation Line. Sailors that worked on her took immense pride in their opportunity and she was a favorite of sailors and people ashore as well.

Lots more Edmund Fitgerald on Michigan in Pictures and definitely check out The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Joseph Fulton on Absolute Michigan – a masterful video that accompanies Gordon Lightfoot’s tribute with great footage.

The Edmund Fitzgerald in the Soo Locks

Never before published photo of the Edmund Fitzgerald, taken only months before it was lost with all hands in Lake Superior. Remember, you saw if first on Flickr! My father-in-law took this shot. He told my wife that he wasn't taking a picture of the Big Fitz; he just wanted a photo of the locks, and this happened to be in the photo. Unfortunately, the negative is long gone and this photo was printed on some sort of rough-coated matte paper so that it could be mailed as a postcard. My father-in-law didn't realize until months after the sinking that he had a picture of this vessel. The photo was taken in August 1975; the Edmund Fitgerald sank in November of that year. It was, ironically, the sinking that made this ship famous. After it was built it was the largest ship on the Great Lakes, but other than that, it was just another anonymous working vessel plying the waters between Wisconsin and Michigan.

The Edmund Fitzgerald in the Soo Locks, photo by bill.d.

Through Gordon Lightfoot’s song, the Edmund Fitzgerald has become an icon for the power of the Great Lakes. Nowhere can you see it better than Joseph Fulton’s video of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a fantastic piece of film-making that you need to see if you haven’t already.

What I suspect that a lot of people forget (because I know I do) is that the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was just one of many ships plying the Great Lakes. About the photo above, Bill writes:

My father-in-law took this shot. He told my wife that he wasn’t taking a picture of the Big Fitz; he just wanted a photo of the locks, and this happened to be in the photo. Unfortunately, the negative is long gone and this photo was printed on some sort of rough-coated matte paper so that it could be mailed as a postcard.

My father-in-law didn’t realize until months after the sinking that he had a picture of this vessel.

The photo was taken in August 1975; the Edmund Fitzgerald sank November 10th of that year. It was, ironically, the sinking that made this ship famous. After it was built in 1958, until 1971, it was the largest ship on the Great Lakes, but other than that, it was just another anonymous working vessel plying the waters between Wisconsin and Michigan.

Check it out background big and see the back of the postcard. Visit the links below for more about the SS Edmund Fitzgerald:

More shipwrecks on Absolute Michigan and Michigan in Pictures.

50th anniversary of the launch of the S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald

Hull 301 Launch 3

Hull 301 Launch 3, photo courtesy The Open Lake Group, LLC

I was initially going to use another photo of the Edmund Fitzgerald for this post, but when I asked about that one, Wade showed me this one from the launch of “Hull 301”. How cool is it that I would happen to contact someone who had an unpublished photo of the launch? You can see a couple more photos from the launch (including one that shows the huge crowd) in his Edmund Fitzgerald set.

Saturday June 7th marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of what’s probably the most well known Great Lakes ship. Over on Absolute Michigan, SSEdmundFitzgerald.com posted “Celebrating the launch of the S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald”. Reading it made me realize that our remembrance of what was once the largest ship ever to ply the Great Lakes ignores almost two decades of service and countless hours of hard work and craftsmanship.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon on June 7th, 1958, as more than 10,000 people lined the banks of the Detroit River. They had come to witness the launching of Hull 301 at the Great Lakes Engineering Works of River Rouge, Michigan. Mrs. Edmund Fitzgerald, wife of the president of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company for which the ship was named, christened the brand new ship and at 12:34 p.m. the 729 ft. “Edmund Fitzgerald” slid gracefully into the basin amid cheers, salutes, and well wishers.

For many of those in attendance, it was a spectacle that they would never forget.

The shipyard workers who constructed “Big Fitz” felt a deep sense of satisfaction as they anxiously watched the launch of this marvelous vessel. Being a prideful lot, they often endured long hours and harsh conditions. This was their “crowning achievement” and the beauty of their craftsmanship was truly evident to all those present.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of that memorable event. It is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate a joyous time in our lives. It is also a chance to recall the great pride and cherished memories experienced by the ship workers, the community, and all who had the opportunity to witness the launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

On this historic occasion, let us joyously share our personal stories, renew old friendships, and fondly remember the day when the “Queen Of The Lakes” was born.
June 7, 2008 Detroit MI

Great Lakes Ship Builders (Detroit Area) host the 50th Anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald Launch and Down River Celebration from 11 AM – 4 PM on Saturday, June 7 2008. The celebration will include a chance to meet the designers and others who worked on the Fitz, workshops on shipbuilders, and ships built in the downriver during the last 200 years. There will also be a Salute to Excellence Award, launch commemoration, and lots of art and artists. For more information, call Roscoe at 810 955-4305 (and poke around SSEdmundFitzgerald.com).

As often, there’s a Wikipedia entry for the SS Edmund Fitzgerald and you can see a gallery of photos from the building of the Fitz and this Zapruder-class video of the launch of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Wyandotte shipbuilding, the Fitzgerald brothers and the launch of the Little Fitz

Launch of the W.E. Fitzgerald at Wyandotte

Launch of the S.S. W.E. Fitzgerald at Wyandotte, Detroit Publishing Co.

I have no idea how I ended up at this photo (and why I suddenly feel like Paul Harvey), but here’s what I’ve learned through Boatnerd.com and a forum with a brief article from Boatnerd by Dick Wiklund about the “Little Fitz.”

William and Julia Fitzgerald of Marine City, Michigan sired six sons. The sons were fascinated by the wooden sailing ships and early steamboats on the St. Clair River, and all six became captains of Great Lakes ships. The youngest of these was John Fitzgerald, who started a shipyard in Milwaukee. His son, William E. Fitzgerald, took over the business in the 1890s but died just a few years later. William’s close friend, Captain Dennis Sullivan, built and christened the W.E. Fitzgerald in Wyandotte in his honor in 1906.

The Wyandotte Historical Museum’s history page says that Wyandotte’s shipbuilding industry was started by Eber B. Ward:

Wyandotte produced over 200 ships, varying from small tugs to large steamers and passenger ferries. Under the name of the American Shipbuilding Company the Wyandotte yards flourished. Hulls were constructed in Wyandotte and were taken up the Detroit River to Detroit, Michigan were they were outfitted. Smaller companies such as the E.H.Doyle Hoop & Stave Works(1889)who provided the city’s first electric power, the Regeant Stove Company, the McCord Corp. and the Beals & Selkirk Trunk Company soon made Wyandotte a famous industrial town.

In 1953, the WE Fitzgerald became known as the Little Fitz when the massive freighter named after William’s son was launched. His name, of course, was Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Library of Congress index of Wyandotte photos is heavy ships & shipyards (you may need to go to this page and search for “Wyandotte”). If you’re in the mood for a ton of Great Lakes freighter information (and a little music and “Laker” cooking), head over to Absolute Michigan’s word of the week: Freighter.