Back in 1909, the Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, Michigan, built for Sandusky Bay service, a double-ended sidewheel steamboat, which was christened G. A. BOECKLING (U.S.206423). She was 155.2 x 30.0 x 9.1, 328 Gross, 157 Net, and a most handsome ferry indeed, with three decks and flying bridgewings. She spent her entire active lifetime running the five-mile round trip between Sandusky, Ohio, and the Cedar Point amusement park for the Bay Transportation Company. But she made her last trip in the autumn of 1951 and, on July 10, 1952, the tug JOHN ROEN IV took her in tow and hauled her to Sturgeon Bay, where she became a floating parts warehouse for Peterson Builders Inc.
BOECKLING has languished at Sturgeon Bay ever since, with her open decks closed in and with her pilothouses and inclined-compound engine removed, but otherwise in relatively good condition. Sandusky residents, however, began to wonder whether it would be possible to bring the old steamer back to her home port and, to this end, The Friends of the BOECKLING, a charitable and historical foundation, was incorporated on March 31, 1981. Through the good efforts of Peterson Builders, the society has arranged for an exclusive purchase option, valid until April 1, 1982, which gives the group a very good chance to purchase the ferry under favourable financial conditions.
The BOECKLING has been inspected by marine surveyors who indicate that she is in sufficiently good condition to withstand the tow back to Sandusky and subsequent restoration for historical display purposes. (With her machinery long since removed, there is no present likelihood of a return to active service.) Fundraising efforts are now under way to cover the purchase of the vessel, drydocking her for preliminary work, and the tow home. If all goes well, it is hoped that she will arrive back in Sandusky, amid gala celebrations, on July 10, 1982, the 30th anniversary of her departure for Sturgeon Bay .
This project certainly seems worthwhile and, we believe, deserves the support of lake marine historians. Unlike the municipally-funded restoration of TRILLIUM, the return of BOECKLING must be financed by public contribution (which is tax-deductible in the U.S.). Annual memberships are available in the following categories: Deckhand - $5.00; Watchman - $10.00; Wheelsman -$25.00; Engineer - $50.00 and First Mate - $100.00. Payment may be made to Friends of the BOECKLING, and mailed to P.O. Box 736, Sandusky, Ohio 44870. As well, T-shirts promoting the return of the BOECKLING are available for $6.00 from the Star Cafe, Sandusky, and large ($75.00) and small ($25.00) prints of an excellent painting of the steamer can be ordered from The Erie Bay Company In The Bay Gallery, 111 East Shoreline Drive, Sandusky. All proceeds from the sale of these items will go directly to The Friends of the BOECKLING to assist the financing of the project.
We wish The Friends of the BOECKLING every success with their ambitious restoration plans, and we shall look forward to seeing G. A. BOECKLING back on her home waters of Sandusky Bay in the near future.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.