The parade of old lakers to European scrapyards continues and 1973 will surely go down in history as being one of the saddest years ever for those of us who have grown attached over the years to the lake steamer of traditional design. So many of the familiar old vessels have passed from the scene this past season that our shipwatching excursions in 1974 will be considerably less interesting. The latest to be towed down are JOE S. MORROW (reported as a late item in our last issue) which made the Welland passage on December 4th, 1973, in tow of C. O. PARADIS and OKLAHOMA, and HENRY LALIBERTE which was taken down on December 8th by OKLAHOMA and SALVAGE MONARCH. In addition, the Quebec & Ontario steamer OUTARDE was lying in the anchorage at Port Colborne during the evening hours of December 4th awaiting her turn for passage downbound on her last trip. We believe that she had a cargo of salt for delivery to a St. Lawrence port and it is our understanding that she will winter at Sorel, probably heading overseas in the spring. Two other vessels recently sold for scrap are the Columbia Transportation self-unloader CRISPIN OGLEBAY and the Erie Sand self-unloader JACK WIRT. The OGLEBAY came down the Welland on December 20th with a cargo of salt for Rochester. It was originally hoped that she could be taken down the Seaway this fall, but she was too late and instead proceeded to Kingston where she will spend the winter before heading down the big river. The WIRT (the ship Erie Sand bought from BoCo in 1972 to replace the lost SIDNEY E. SMITH JR.) was apparently drydocked in early December at Sturgeon Bay and was found to be in poor condition. She was immediately sold to Marine Salvage and the intention was to sail her to Hamilton under her own power where she would spend the winter before being towed to Quebec City in the spring. In fact, Capt. John Leonard of the sandsucker CHARLES DICK (laid up at Port Colborne for the winter) was engaged to take her down the canal. After being delayed by poor weather, she was finally taken down Lock 8 at Port Colborne on December 20. It was decided that she would go no farther and she was turned around at the point below Humberstone where the old canal and the new Welland bypass meet. She was then backed down into the old canal section and laid up along the west bank. There she will sit until spring.
For those of us who keep records on lakers departed this life, we can report the following statistics. J. CLARE MILLER and WILTRANCO arrived safely at Santander, Spain in tow of the tug FAIRPLAY X, on September 21st, 1973. UHLMANN BROTHERS and OTTO M. REISS, in tow of the tug JANTAR, arrived at Castellon, Spain, on September 20th, 1973.
It was rumoured late in the fall that the Upper Lakes Shipping bulk carrier THORNHILL was sold for scrapping as a result of damage sustained in her October grounding at the Soo. We are most happy to report that the ship sustained no damage in the accident and that it has been confirmed that her owners have no intention of disposing of this vessel. Reports to the contrary are completely erroneous.
The big day for the Toronto sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM came on Friday, December 7, for on that day she was towed from Lighthouse Pond (her home for the past sixteen years) down the lagoon and across the bay to the Metro Marine yard at the foot of Rees Street. There she has been placed very near the spot where her former running mate BLUEBELL was stripped of all her cabins during the conversion to a garbage scow over the winter of 1955-56. The first step in the rebuilding of TRILLIUM has been to remove the coal from her bunkers so that the plating behind the coal can be inspected. It is believed that the work of stripping off the rotten wooden superstructure will be commenced shortly and that job should be completed during the winter. It seems that the work will be done at the Rees Street slip rather than in the Keating Channel as we had earlier reported. We will use these pages to keep our readers up to date on the progress of this remarkable project right up until the day that TRILLIUM is once again crossing the bay under her own steam, and it is our hope that we will soon see that day.
The next vessel to be commissioned in the BoCo (American Steamship) fleet will be H. LEE WHITE, the next in the line of ugly ducklings that is currently receiving her finishing touches at the shipyard at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It is only natural that this name should be chosen for the vessel, but it creates a problem in that there already is a ship of this name in the fleet. This presents no real difficulties for the company, however, for BoCo has long been known for a tendency to shuffle names on its vessels quite frequently. In any event, the present H. LEE WHITE, formerly known as JOSEPH S. YOUNG (I), will be renamed SHARON in 1974 to honour the Sharon Works (located in Pennsylvania) of General American Transportation, the current owners of American Steamship.
It appears that the shortage of petroleum products south of the border may force a delay in the plans of Columbia Transportation to install oil burners in the steamers SYLVANIA and G. A. TOMLINSON. They were to receive equipment from the WYANDOTTE and HURON which were sold for scrapping during 1973. We understand that TOMLINSON and SYLVANIA will still receive bowthruster as planned. Many lake shipping fleets owned in the U. S. are experiencing fuel problems in that the government has put into effect a quota system for fuel which some operators find to be rather restrictive. The rule hits hard at companies that have increased the size of their fleets recently.
Speaking of oil conversions, the Hindman Transportation Company Ltd. has decided to take the big plunge and put oil in its HELEN EVANS, one of the last coal burning steamers seen regularly in the Welland Canal. The vessel is currently laid up for the winter along the West Street wharf in Port Colborne where the work will be done. We would have thought that the current oil problems might have weighed heavily against such a conversion, but then again we have so few bunker coal outlets on the Canadian side of the lakes that oil may have proven the lesser of the evils.
Another old familiar ship will soon be biting the dust if the information we have been given is correct. It seems that on December 18th the canal motorship CONISCLIFFE HALL was shifted back from the West Street wharf in Port Colborne to a spot north of the bridges where she is near NORDRILL. Equipment is due to be moved to CONISCLIFFE . HALL from the older vessel in the course of conversion to a floating drill platform for gas exploration. Once the job is finished, we understand that NORDRILL will be junked. NORDRILL was built in 1923 at Wallsend-on-Tyne as GLENCORRIE for Playfair's Glen Line Ltd, and in 1926 passed to Canada Steamship Lines who renamed her SIMCOE. She operated under that name until retired about 1960. In 1961 she was sold to her present owners and converted to a drill platform. She was first used solely as a barge (her original steam machinery being hardly practical in her present capacity) but several years ago was fitted with Harbourmaster outboard engines mounted astern.
The veteran Great Lakes Towing Company's steam tug ROGER was towed from Cleveland to Ashtabula during the week of October 29th. She will be (or by now may already have been) broken up for scrap by Acme Metal. ROGER was built in 1913 at Manitowoc and was long stationed at Milwaukee. She has been lying idle at the company's yard in Cleveland for some considerable period of time.
The new Litton tug-barge combination PRESQUE ISLE passed upbound through the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers on December 17th in what must surely be one of the latest maiden voyages ever recorded on the lakes. As had been suspected earlier, the vessel is operating for United States Steel. We never thought that we would be able to say this, but from the photos we have seen of the unit in operation she is not nearly as ugly as we had been led to believe she would be. Granted, she is very flat (no sheer at all) and all the superstructure with the exception of the unloading rig is located on the tug rather than on the barge, but all in all her lines are clean and she is a decided improvement over CHARLES E. WILSON. We understand that certain modifications had to be made to the bridge of the tug when, after coupling her up with the barge, it was found that visibility from the pilothouse was blocked by the barge's unloading equipment. In addition, there were minor problems in fitting the tug into the recess in the stern of the barge; however, these difficulties have also been overcome. Despite the long-term charter to U. S. Steel, the tug and barge have black hulls. The twin stacks of the tug are painted a robin's egg blue with black tops and they bear the Litton logo which also appears on the bow of the barge.
We have received a definite confirmation that McAllister Towing will not effect repairs to the machinery of the tug DANIEL McALLISTER whose problems were mentioned in our last issue. We assume that she will eventually end up in a scrapper's yard. Incidentally, we might mention that she was actually purchased by McAllister in October of 1965 and received refitting at Kingston and Montreal. She received her current name in christening ceremonies at Montreal on October 1st, 1966.
As many of our readers will no doubt be aware, the Owen Sound Transportation Co. Ltd was purchased during 1973 by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. The purchase includes the present Tobermory-South Bay Mouth ferries NORISLE and NORGOMA. These vessels will, however, be relegated to standby service in 1974 due to the scheduled appearance of the new ferry presently under construction at Collingwood for the route and due to be launched on January 12th. We have made the alarming discovery that the new boat will be christened CHI-CHEEMAUN, a name which presumably has some local significance on Manitoulin Island. Quite frankly, we preferred the O. S. T. Co's "NOR" series of names! (CHI-CHEEMAUN is actually an Indian word meaning "big canoe. ")
The 235-foot ferry being built at Sturgeon Bay for the Alaska service was christened on November 26th, being given the name LECONTE. Historians will have to alter their records as for months the vessel has been referred to as MENDENHALL and it had been supposed that this would be her official name.
The small Canadian tug AMERICO DEAN capsized and sank in the St. Clair River below Sarnia on November 30th, her two crewmen being rescued from the icy water of the river. She had not been raised at last report. The DEAN was one of the pieces of equipment being used in the landfill project at the end of Sarnia's government wharf, a project which included the sinking of the bow and stern sections of SIDNEY E. SMITH JR. as part of a breakwater.
Despite the fact that U. S. Steel will apparently be returning to service in 1974 some of the bulk carriers which have been lying idle at Duluth, the Corporation's craneship CLIFFORD F. HOOD will not be so lucky. The veteran steamer has been sold for scrapping overseas and will make her exit from the lakes next season. The HOOD was built in 1902 at West Bay City, Michigan, for the Hawgood fleet as BRANSFORD and was almost lost in the storm of November 28, 1905, when she took a terrible beating in the fury of Lake Superior and even struck Isle Royale damaging her bottom. She survived, however, and in 1915 passed to the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, being renamed JOHN H. McLEAN the following year. In 1943 she was given her present name and in 1944 she was rebuilt as a craneship. The vessel served the American Steel & Wire subsidiary of U. S. Steel for two decades before returning to the ranks of the rest of U. S. Steel's fleet. She has lain idle now for two seasons.
The Hall Corporation will be keeping a number of its vessels active on salt water during the winter months. Four of the smaller tankers will be operating on the east coast and one, CHEMICAL TRANSPORT, will be running to the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, BAFFIN TRANSPORT will be operating between Vancouver and the East Coast, a rather unusual trade encouraged by the oil crisis. At the time of writing, it was planned that the bulk carrier SCOTIACLIFFE HALL would operate between the U. S. Gulf coast and South America.
In our last issue we reported the upbound passage at the Soo of OLIVE L. MOORE and the barge SULTANA, speculating on the reason for their trip. We now learn that the barge was bound for Duluth where she will be broken up by Hyman Michaels. In addition, the former Mohawk Navigation barge ALFRED KRUPP will also bo scrapped by the same firm. The KRUPE arrived at Duluth in December, having been used as a breakwater unit on Lake Michigan for some years.
Agreement was reached on November 1st on the details of construction of a $25-million shipping facility for low-sulphur coal to be built at Superior, Wisconsin. Coal will be moved to the location by Burlington Northern unit trains and there will be loaded aboard lake vessels for movement down the lakes. The main receiver of such coal will be the various plants of the Detroit Edison Company.
Several issues back, we commented on an announcement to the effect that a firm known as Incan Ships Ltd. would begin transportation of railway cars by ship between Thunder Bay and Superior, Wisconsin. Details at that time were lacking, but it was thought that the service would be operated by a carfloat barge pushed by a tug. Since then it has been announced that a contract has been let to the Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd., Vancouver, for the construction of a 382-foot motorship which will be capable of carrying thirty-one 40-foot railroad cars or forty-five truck trailers. To be 66 feet in width, the vessel will have five sets of tracks. She will be powered by twin diesels generating 4360 h. p. and she should be completed by mid-1974. To be registered in Thunder Bay and operated by a Canadian crew, the vessel will make 36-hour round trips between the new C. P. Rail terminal on McKellar Island at Thunder Bay and a new facility being built at Superior. Incan Ships Ltd. is the operating subsidiary of Incan Marine Ltd., Montreal, a joint venture of Inchcape Ltd., a British firm, and Canadian Pacific.
We have learned a bit more about the lake cruises to be operated out of Chicago next season. The ship to be used is the Greek-registered and owned GALAXY and, although we have as yet been unable to run down her former name, we do know that she was built in 1957 at Belfast and originally served as a ferry to Irish ports. Apparently, demand for space on the 1974 trips has been surprisingly good and the first trip, scheduled to depart Chicago on April 13, is already a sell-out. Booking agent for the ship is the Chicago Travel Club. More on this later.
Our spies have reported that Columbia's recently purchased J. H. HILLMAN JR. was afloat at Toledo on December 5th and that her "A-frame" is progressing nicely. There is no sign of an unloading boom as yet. The same reporter observed J. BURTON AYERS on the drydock at Toledo as of the same date.
We are very pleased to report that after an entire season of operation down the St. Lawrence, the steam canal tanker TEXACO-BRAVE has returned to her usual berth in Toronto's Ship Channel for the winter months. It had been thought that we might not see her back in these parts again since, in the spring, her future was very much in doubt. However, with the tanker business booming at the present and all indications being that this state of affairs will continue for some time to come, any tanker operator would have to be out of his head to dispose of any vessel that is in condition fit for operation.
Some months ago we noted the moving of the long-idle Construction Aggregates Corporation sandsucker AMERICAN from Manitowoc to Kewaunee under tow. It seems that the Kewaunee city fathers did not take too kindly to the rusty old steamer being moored at their doorstep and so she has now been taken in tow once more, this time for Manistee where, hopefully, she will be allowed to rest in peace. Apparently her owners have no desire to sell her for scrapping.
Last issue we reported that the Lake Michigan carferry PERE MARQUETTE 22, which passed down the Welland Canal under tow during the last week of November, had been sold for scrapping. We have since learned that this was incorrect. The ferry has been taken to Sorel, Quebec, where she will be partially cut down and converted to a barge for general cargo use. She will then be taken to Kingston, Jamaica, where she will be placed in service for a subsidiary of the Construction Aggregates Corporation Inc., which is the firm which purchased her from the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. If PERE MARQUETTE 22 is a success in her new trade, indications are that PERE MARQUETTE 21, her sister ship also purchased by Construction Aggregates, will be sent east in the spring, cut down, and used in a similar role except that it is hoped to operate her from Puerto Rico.
In view of the number of vessels currently under construction at U. S. lake shipyards, it seems that a little breakdown of ships on the way would be in order to help clear the confusion. At the Lorain yard of American Shipbuilding, Hull 903 will be a self-unloader for the Kinsman Marine Transit Company. Hull 904 was to be a similar ship but, in view of a press of new construction at Lorain, this contract has been transferred to the AmShip yard at Toledo where the vessel has been given Hull number 201. Even so, there is some considerable doubt as to whether this ship will ever be built, Lorain's Hulls 905 and 906 will be the first two new vessels for the Interlake Steamship Company and number 907 and 908 have been allotted to the two contracts for which Interlake has options. Moving over to the Toledo yard of AmShip, there is, as mentioned, Hull 201 which may be built for Kinsman. Hull 202 will be a self-unloader for Boland and Cornelius and we assume that she will be similar in appearance to ROGER M. KYES. Then we come to Bay Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay, where three vessels are in the works. The first is H. LEE WHITE which has already been christened and which should by now be nearing completion. Next in line is another self-unloader for BoCo, this being the vessel designed for the purpose of carrying Detroit Edison coal. After that will come the ship ordered by Inland Steel for delivery in 1977.
Speaking of the vessels to be built for the Interlake Steamship Company, we understand that Pickands Mather has changed its mind and will build ships matching the current "new profile" look. Originally, they were going to be pilothouse-forward jobs, but we now learn that they will be the all-too-common stemwinders which might have been expected. The ships will have rounded bows and the difference between their keel length and overall length will be only ten feet!
During the autumn, we had heard a rumour to the effect that the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. would be purchasing the package freight motorvessel FRENCH RIVER from Canada Steamship Lines to replace the veteran OUTARDE recently sold for scrap. We are most happy to report that no such sale will be concluded. FRENCH RIVER passed the 1973 season laid up at Hamilton, a fate brought about by the cutback in C. S. L. 's package freight services.
The Roen Steamship Company's tug JOHN ROEN V and barge MAITLAND NO. 1 left Sturgeon Bay for Milwaukee on November 10th, both vessels having been sold to Eder Barge and Towing Inc., Milwaukee. The only vessel of any consequence left in the Roen fleet is the big tug JOHN PURVES and it is understood that Purves, her namesake who is now in control of Roen Steamship Company, intends to keep this 150-footer as long as possible.
On the evening of Friday, December 7th, 1973, an era ended. For on that night the last of the old ladies of the Atlantic still serving in American waters, the Holland America cruise ship NIEUW AMSTERDAM, sailed from Port Everglades on her last scheduled trip, a West Indies cruise. The steamer, which was built in 1938 at Rotterdam, was not only the pride and joy of the Dutch, especially during the agony of the Second World War, but was also a favourite during her years on the North Atlantic ferry service and has proved to be immensely popular in her last few years spent in cruising. Most fortunately, she was never subjected to the indignity of receiving the new Holland America colours and right up until the end sported the traditional gray hull and the yellow, green and white funnel marking. The line gave considerable publicity to the final voyages of the beautiful ship, inviting those who knew the vessel to return and "relive their fondest memories" on her decks. But now she is gone, and her passing marks the disappearance of the last of the traditionally styled liners. Gone forever is the atmosphere of pre-war elegance and the creaking of woodwork that was once so familiar. Her like will not be seen again. Hail and farewell NIEUW AMSTERDAM, old friend.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.