Many of our members will be familiar with the career of the steamer PARKDALE, which spent the 1969 season laid up in the Toronto Ship Channel, but for some amongst us her strange story may be new and it is for the benefit of these that wo have chosen her as the next in our series of individual histories.
On July 27th, 1910, the American Shipbuilding Co, at Lorain, launched its Hull No. 387 and the new vessel was named WILLIAM C. MORELAND by her owners, the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation. 580 feet in length, 58 in width and 32 feet in the bean, the bulk carrier was powered by triple-expansion steam engines and cost almost $450,000 to build. She was commissioned in September 1910, entering operation under the management of W. H. Becker, and her first four trips in the ore trade were uneventful.
Her fifth trip started routinely as she cleared Superior, Wisconsin, at 3:55 a.m., October 18th, 1910, under the command of Capt. C. M. Ennes with 10,722 tons of ore. She proceeded across Lake Superior in good weather, the only difficulty being a slight haze spreading over the lake from brush fires ashore. At about 9:00 p.m., and without warning, the ship, making full speed, struck the unlighted Saw Tooth Reef about one mile offshore near Eagle River, Michigan. Efforts were promptly made to free the vessel but she remained hard ashore and began to fill rapidly with water.
The crew was taken off by the Portage Ship Canal lifesaving crew the next morning as heavy seas began to run, whipped up by freshening winds. It was not until the morning of the 20th that the master was able to return and he found the ship sagging badly on the reef. Steam was raised but before anything else could be done, the ship cracked between hatches 10 and 11. The crew was again removed and on the 23rd the MORELAND broke a second time, between hatches 22 and 23 this time, so that the wreck was actually divided into three weakly connected sections. Patching and pumping operations were carried out and the lightering equipment which arrived on the scene on October 20th managed to remove about 7,000 tons of ore, but worsening weather repeatedly drove the men off the wreck and forced the salvage ships to seek shelter. The ship was abandoned to the insurers on November 2nd, 1910 and the MORELAND had the distinction of being the largest vessel "lost" on the lakes up to that time.
A contract for salvaging the WILLIAM C. MORELAND was let to Capt. James Reid of Sarnia and his crew arrived at the wreck on November 20th with the tug SARNIA CITY and the lighter MANISTIQUE. They continued to remove cargo from the hull during the winter but were frequently forced to retreat to the shelter of the Portage Canal because of very bad weather on the open lake. Finally she was patched and bulkheaded on each side of each break and the sections were lashed together, and at last on June 20th, 1911, she floated clear. Steam had been raised but the ship could not steer herself and a collision with the tug JAMES REID undid all the elaborate patching. The MORELAND filled and sank slightly to the west of the original point, but in much deeper water and this time only part of the superstructure was visible above the lake surface.
A severe storm on July 24th, 1911 completely severed the 278-foot stern section from the rest of the ship so the salvors were forced to confine their efforts to raising the valuable stern part of the wreck. It was floated on August 8th and was towed into Portage Harbour on September 1st, 1911. The forward section of the wreck slid off the reef into deep water during the winter.
The stern of the MORELAND remained in Portage for more than a year. The salvage contract specified delivery at Superior but it was decided to take the remains to Detroit for drydocking and so, on September 4th, 1912, in tow of the JAMES REID and MANISTIQUE, the MORELAND set out again on the voyage which she had commenced almost two years earlier. She was beached at Port Huron for pumping on September 16th and two days later she was moved to Point Edward where the remaining ore was unloaded. She entered the Great Lakes Engineering Works at Ecorse, Michigan, on September 29th, 1912.
No adequate bids for the half ship were received and late in November she was moved to the C.P.R. dock in Windsor where she lay until the railway voiced its objections to her presence. On October 7th, 1913, Reid tugs again took her in tow and she returned to Port Huron where she was beached. There she remained until the autumn of 1915 when she was again pumped out and cleaned up. A bid of $55,650 from Canada Steamship Lines was accepted and the new owners soon contracted for American Shipbuilding Company to reconstruct the boat at Superior, Wisconsin.
She arrived at Superior under tow on May 29, 1916, but meanwhile the yard had been building a new bow section 322 feet in length. The new section was designated Hull No. 524 and was launched on September 9th, 1916. In November 1916, the new ship made from the old stern and the newly-constructed bow, was christened SIR TREVOR DAWSON for the American Interlake Company, a wartime American subsidiary of Canada Steamship Lines. She was 600 feet in length overall, exactly the same size as the WILLIAM C. MORELAND. Her old registry under number (U.S.) 207851 had been surrendered May 15, 1911, and so she was now redocumented as (U.S.) 214499. Soon after the christening, she left for South Chicago with a cargo of iron ore, just a little over six years after her eventful last voyage for Jones & Laughlin.
The DAWSON was laid up after the war and was sold on December 23, 1920, to the Pioneer Steamship Company. Hutchinson & Co., Cleveland, managers, who renamed her CHARLES L. HUTCHINSON (II). Upon completion of the new CHARLES L. HUTCHINSON (III) in 1951 the older steamer was renamed GENE C. HUTCHINSON and operated as such through the 1961 season. Her years in the Pioneer fleet were largely uneventful. After 62 years of vessel operation, the Hutchinson interests went into voluntary liquidation in 1962 and the GENE C. HUTCHINSON was sold to Redwood Enterprises Limited, one of the Reoch companies. She was registered in Hamilton, Bermuda, as PARKDALE (II) and was, for a short period, the Reoch flagship. She was reregistered in Hamilton, Ontario, during the 1967 season.
Unfortunately, poor business conditions faced by Canadian operators have forced her owners to keep the PARKDALE laid up during 1969 but a return to a more normal situation could well see her resume active service next season. It is hoped that the lack of grain movements will not accomplish for this fine steamer what Lake Superior tried her best to do sixty years ago.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.