Just about the best piece of news we have ever been able to bring you in these pages concerns the possibility that one day soon we may have a sidewheel passenger steamboat operating again on the Great Lakes. And right here on Toronto Bay, too! What ship is this? Why, none other than the old ferry TRILLIUM. But, you say, TRILLIUM has been up in Lighthouse Pond at Gibraltar Point for fifteen years, and her cabins are in the last stages of decomposition. Right. Your editor was aboard the old girl in February and she does leave a bit to be desired - the decks rotting, the boat deck carried away on one side by the falling of a rotten willow tree on the shore, items of equipment "appropriated" by passers-by. This could, however, all change very soon! At the urging of the Toronto Historical Board which has long had its eye on TRILLIUM, the Executive Committee has recommended to Metro Council that the sum of $1500 be spent on retaining the necessary persons to do a full survey of the condition of the ferry. (A survey some years ago showed that her steel hull was still reasonably sound and that the major portions of her machinery together with the boilers were still serviceable.) If it should be found that hull and machinery are still good, the Board hopes that the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto through its Parks Department (operators of the Island ferries), will agree to pay the cost of refurbishing TRILLIUM's equipment, stripping her to the hull, rebuilding her superstructure as it was and putting her back in service on the route that she served for 46 years prior to her retirement in 1956. All of our members will, we know, join us in congratulating the Toronto Historical Board in getting action on the TRILLIUM started and in hoping that the job will be seen through to a successful conclusion. All efforts in this direction will have the full support of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.
The sale for scrapping of some of the older Kinsman Marine Transit Company vessels has begun. The first to go is R.E.WEBSTER, formerly the ELBERT H. GARY of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. The WEBSTER has spent the last two years in layup, primarily as a result of boiler troubles. In addition, she is a coal-burner. We understand that WEBSTER has been sold to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, and that UHLMANN BROTHERS may soon follow in the same direction as she is next on the list for disposal. Contrary to earlier reports that she would be scrapped, we now learn that JOE S. MORROW may operate again in 1973 due to a resurgence of the grain trade which will also keep JAMES E. FERRIS in operation.
Scrapping operations continue at Ramey's Bend on ALPENA. Meanwhile, HENRY G. DALTON, moored alongside, has had her bowthruster removed and it appears that she is being sealed in preparation for a sale overseas. We don't know whether there is any connection, but at Toronto the NORTHERN VENTURE of Upper lakes Shipping is being fitted with a bowthruster and we wouldn't be surprised if it is the same unit that was taken from the DALTON.
Speaking of Marine Salvage, it seems that their UNITED STATES GYPSUM, recently bought from the American Steamship Company (although the sale has yet to be approved by the U.S. Maritime Administration), is to be resold to Vado Scali E. Baciai, Sp. A., Genoa, Italy. She will, therefore, be making the long trip across the big pond instead of being cut up at Humberstone.
We understand that an organization called the Narrows Park Group of Point Edward, Sarnia, has been pushing, along with the Great Lakes Heritage Museum, for the development of a land and water museum hopefully to be located on the site of the present C.N.R. - C.S.L. freight terminal below the Blue Water Bridge at Point Edward. With the support of the Mayor of Sarnia, the groups have approached Canadian National with a view to obtaining as exhibits the carferries HURON and LANSDOWNE which are currently in use as carfloats at Windsor but which soon will be retired altogether when C.N. drops its Windsor-Detroit crossing. The ships are not suitable for use in the railway's ferry service at Sarnia and would be interesting exhibits for the museum except for the fact that both steamers have been butchered in their conversion to barges. For instance, LANSDOWNE has now lost not only her pilothouse, but the whole bridge structure and her funnels. In any event, we wish the Sarnia groups the best of luck in their efforts.
While on the subject of the carfloats, it seems that the winter has been interesting for OGDENSBURG which, under tow of her old tug PRESCOTONT, has operated sporadically in the container trade across the Detroit River. In the early morning hours of February 1st, ice tore her from the C.P.R. dock in Windsor. She struck the N & W barge DETROIT moored at the some location and also attacked the tug R. G. CASSIDY which, with only one of her two diesels operating, was sent out to catch the barge. The other N & W tug, F. A. JOHNSON then was sent out but she broke a steering cable while groping through the heavy ice. Finally her own tug PRESCOTONT was sent out and the errant barge was finally captured. In a minor incident occurring on February 28th at Detroit, we understand that a somewhat less than steady Detroit Harbour Terminals crane deposited a container in the River instead of on the deck of OGDENSBURG.
In our December issue, we reported that the Ford Motor Company had sold its veteran collier ROBERT S. McNAMARA to Dale Osborne of the Detroit Bulk Dock Company for use as a dock in the River Rouge. It now seems that the vessel's new owner has gone into bankruptcy and it would seem logical to assume that Ford will regain ownership of the McNAMARA and sell her for scrapping. In latter years the McNAMARA, with her specially designed deck, operated only on the Toledo to Detroit coal run and hence was almost inaccessible to photographers. For the benefit of those who may wish to get a shot of her before anything happens to the ship, we can report that she is currently lying in the Rouge just above the Jefferson Avenue bridge facing downstream, a good location for photos in an otherwise impossible area.
One more of the "Head Line" vessels that served Toronto for many years has been sold. The Ulster Steam Shipping Company Ltd. of Belfast has disposed of TORR HEAD to the Ocean Tramping Company, Hong Kong. Renamed SHENGLI, she now flies the flag of Somali. The only Head Line lake veteran still in service is the relatively new INISHOWEN HEAD which, converted to a container ship, operates to east coast ports only.
It has been confirmed that the Ford Motor Company will proceed with its plans to convert the motorship HENRY FORD II to a self-unloader this coming winter. The FORD got the 1973 season off to an early start by sailing about March 1st on the Toledo to Detroit coal service. The HENRY has always been a good looking ship but we doubt that the conversion will help things any. By the way, as most of our readers will know, HENRY and her sister ship BENSON FORD have long been known for the odd rhythm of their diesels which produce a series of beats to which some wags have set the words "Making Money, Making Money." Maybe now, with the conversion, Ford should have the HENRY's diesel rebuilt so that it would keep time to "Making More Money, Making More Money"....... if so, they need only look to the old CAPTAIN C.D.SECORD, for she had that beat down pat!
The Interlake Steamship Company really seems to have started something with its lengthening of the ore carriers CHARLES M. BEEGHLY and JOHN SHERWIN, the latter ship being due to emerge from the Fraser yard at Superior this spring. The Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton & Company, has now jumped on the bandwagon and has announced that its ore carriers ARMCO and RESERVE will each be stretched by 120 feet, this job going to Fraser as well. ARMCO is to get the treatment during the coming winter of 1973-74, while the yard will take RESERVE in hand the following winter. The 629.4 foot ARMCO was built in 1953 at Lorain by the American Shipbuilding Company, while RESERVE, the same length but rather more traditional in appearance, came from the Great Lakes Engineering Works at Ecorse, Michigan, likewise in 1953. With the lengthening, the Columbia pair will join the growing ranks of "superlakers" among which are now numbered only STEWART J. CORT, ROGER BLOUGH, CHARLES M. BEEGHLY and JOHN SHERWIN, together with the as yet unnamed barge abuilding at Erie.
A number of lake shipping companies have announced the sailing dates of their various ships from winter quarters in order that the Coast Guard may arrange the necessary icebreaking operations. This listing gives us a good chance to see how many vessels each company will run this year. Among those fleets which had reported by mid-February, the following are planning to operate all their ships in 1973: Bethlehem Steel Corp., Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company, Ford Motor Company, Hanna Mining Company (excluding the GEORGE R. FINK which is currently in the process of sale to the Hindman fleet), Huron Portland Cement (including even J.B. FORD, E.M. FORD and LEWIS G. HARRIMAN), Inland Steel Company, Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., N. M. Paterson & Sons Ltd., and the American Oil Company.
The U. S. Steel Great lakes Fleet this year will reactivate HOMER D. WILLIAMS which was idle last year with shaft problems. CLIFFORD F. HOOD, WILLIAM J. FILBERT, GEORGE G. CRAWFORD, PETER A. B. WIDENER, J. P. MORGAN JR., and WILLIAM P. PALMER will remain in layup at Duluth where they likewise spent 1972. Contrary to rumours which have been circulating, there will be no wholesale retiring of older vessels in the fleet and the only other Tinstack steamer that will not operate in 1973 is PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR. Incidentally, mention of the craneship CLIFFORD F. HOOD above reminds us that there are indications that this veteran may soon be sold to another firm for operation. The prospective buyer has not been identified and our readers may turn their imagination loose on this problem.
A pleasant surprise comes with the word that the Interlake Steamship Company (Pickands Mather) will operate all its vessels except COLONEL JAMES PICKANDS. This means that PM will reactivate WALTER E. WATSON and SAMUEL MATHER (both idle in 1972) and will continue to run ROBERT HOBSON whose future had been in doubt as a result of collision damage sustained last year in an argument with the Peerless Cement dock at Port Huron,
Our faces are red and so are those in the offices of the Hall Corp. As we announced recently, Hall's subsidiary, Algonquin Corporation Ltd., had purchased the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR and was in the act of having her name changed to CURLEW. As the papers were being processed, the Canadian Government brought it to Halco's attention that there already was a fishtug by the name of CURLEW on the register and accordingly this could not be used as the new name for the tanker. Since CURLEW was to be named for a former Hall vessel, the company did some quick checking into their fleet lists and came up with the name CARDINAL which will now be used. The new name will honour not only the town of Cardinal on the old St. Lawrence Canals, but also a wooden tug, built in 1875, which served the Hall fleet for a short period around 1911.
We have learned that the self-unloading bulk carrier building at Sturgeon Bay as Hull 711 for the American Steamship Company (BoCo) will be christened H.LEE WHITE. BoCo will then have to rename the current vessel of that name (the old JOSEPH S. YOUNG) and here we go again. This fleet has long been known for the periodic shifting around of the names of its ships.
Speaking of American Steamship, we have heard talk that the current owners are attempting to dispose of their interest in the operation. As yet we have no other details whatsoever and shall be most interested to see who tho prospective buyers may be.
In our last issue, we reported that all was not rosy for the future of the steam tanker TEXACO-BRAVE, At the time of writing this, however, it is a virtual certainty that the tanker will operate during 1973 as fit-out crews have already been aboard and we understand that she is due to sail in early April. Although she will probably spend almost all her time running downriver from Montreal, she may make a few trips on Lake Ontario before she leaves these waters.
It seems that Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. are not only anxious to get rid of their surplus package freighters, but would like to sell the 623 foot straightdeck bulk carrier COVERDALE as well. The vessel, completed in 1950 as Hull 34 of Midland Shipyards Ltd., and powered by 4-cylinder Unaflow engines, operated for a number of years under the Hamilton, Bermuda, C.S.L. subsidiary, Ocean Lines Ltd., but was brought back into Canadian registry in 1972 under another subsidiary, Pipe Line Tankers Ltd.
The salt water bulk carrier NORSE VARIANT, a familiar visitor to lake ports, foundered in heavy weather off Cape May in the Atlantic on March 22nd while en route from Norfolk to Bremen with a cargo of coal. At the time of writing, only one crewman had been found alive on the storm-tossed waters, NORSE VARIANT was a 541.5-foot stemwinder built at Uddevalla, Sweden, in 1965, and registered at Oslo. She came to the lakes in her first year of operation and returned annually. When last seen in Toronto during 1972, she was unloading automobiles in the Turning Basin.
On the weekend of March 17-18, the Southern Ontario area was struck by a most severe and unexpected spring storm which brought havoc and destruction in the form of heavy snow, high winds, and serious flooding of shoreside areas already threatened by extremely high water levels. Very little information appeared in the press about one aspect of the storm which caused anxious moments in Goderich. It seems that high winds screaming in off Lake Huron during the height of the blizzard tore loose a number of the vessels wintering at the port. A number of collisions ensued and the most seriously damaged vessel was PATERSON which apparently had a hole punched in her engineroom. We should like to learn more about the incident.
Last month we mentioned that the self-unloading barge MARQUIS ROEN had been sold for off-lakes use. We now learn that the buyers are the Burnside Terminal Company, New Orleans, who intend to use her as a grain lighter.
A recent visit to Whitby harbour gave us a view of ISLE ROYALE whose conversion from the self-unloading bulk carrier OREFAX, to a sludge carrier for the North Traverse dredging project is nearly completed. The ship is being painted in McNamara colours except for the stack which is all black. The Halco "H" is gone, but the V-design in white remains.
The new Welland bypass channel of the Welland Ship Canal was officially opened on March 28th with the upbound passage of the Canadian icebreaker GRIFFON. The first commercial passage came the same day with the passage downbound of Mohawk Navigation's stemwinder SENNEVILLE which had wintered at Humberstone. The St. Lawrence section of the Seaway also opened on the 28th as the salt water vessel DAVID MARQUESS OF MILFORD HAVEN passed up the St. Lambert Lock. Strangely enough, the same day saw the opening of the American locks at Sault Ste. Marie as U. S. Steel's self-unloader JOHN G. MUNSON passed upbound with coal for Duluth.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.