At long last, the Chessie System seems to have made progress in its rather unpopular battle to gain permission to abandon its Lake Michigan carferry services. Chessie has wanted to get rid of the ferries for years but until now, it could not get approval from the appropriate authorities. On November 16, however, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved what has come to be known as the "Kewaunee Plan", a compromise which does little but postpone the evil day when the ferries will disappear completely. Under this plan, Chessie would be allowed to abandon its service between Ludington and Milwaukee but would be forced to continue service from Ludington to Kewaunee and Manitowoc for a period of five years, at the expiration of which period the economics of the latter two routes would be reassessed. Abandonment of the Kewaunee and Manitowoc routes would probably be approved at that time unless a marked increase in business could be demonstrated, but with Chessie working hard to discourage the routing of rail freight via the ferries, such an increase could hardly be anticipated. Needless to say, the "Kewaunee Plan" does not seem to please anyone but Chessie and it is expected that opponents of the plan will appeal the I.C.C. decision.
During the summer of 1978, the I.C.C. also considered an abandonment petition submitted by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad with reference to the Muskegon - Milwaukee service operated by its subsidiary, the Grand Trunk - Milwaukee Car Ferry Company. The G.T.W. petition did not evoke as much opposition as had that of the Chessie System because the Grand Trunk route did not carry nearly as much traffic and its vessels did not carry passengers on a regular basis. The petition was approved and G.T.W. given permission to discontinue its service across the lake as of November 1. Quite naturally , Grand Trunk wasted no time in putting the termination into effect and, on November 1, the last run was made by the 47-year-old steamer CITY OF MILWAUKEE. This vessel will be chartered to another line (please read on) for future service and her continued operation seems certain. On the other hand, it is not known what will become of MADISON, a sistership of CITY OF MILWAUKEE but four years older. MADISON was long the mainstay of the route but has not operated recently due to her need of extensive repair. Grand Trunk's third boat, GRAND RAPIDS, was sold for non-ferry use several years ago.
With the Chessie and Grand Trunk carferry services apparently going down the spout, it is interesting to note that the third carferry operator on Lake Michigan seems to be doing very well indeed. This is all the more surprising in that we are speaking of the Ann Arbor Railroad which has suffered from severe financial problems for many years. The Michigan Interstate Railway Company, which operates the Ann Arbor, has announced that not only will it continue to operate between Frankfort and Kewaunee, but that it will also institute a new route between Frankfort and Manitowoc during the summer of 1979. The company also has obtained the carferry CITY OF MILWAUKEE from Grand Trunk on a lease-purchase agreement and she made her first run for Ann Arbor on November 22nd. Her arrival on the scene meant that Ann Arbor's own VIKING, (a) ANN ARBOR NO. 7, which dates back to 1925, could be withdrawn temporarily for drydocking. In addition, the company has begun work on the rehabilitation of ARTHUR K. ATKINSON, (a) ANN ARBOR NO. 6, a veteran of 61 years, which has been idle since 1973 because of mechanical difficulties. The ATKINSON should be back in service in time for the opening of the new route.
When the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company, bought the Hanna steamer ERNEST T. WEIR (II) last spring, it did not rename the vessel and observers generally conceded that the ship's name fitted in very well with other historic names in the fleet. All we can say is that we hope that all our members were able to get good photos of the WEIR in Columbia colours during 1978. When she enters service in 1979. she will be renamed (b) COURTNEY BURTON in honour of Oglebay Norton's board chairman.
There will be at least one other new name on the lakes when traffic begins to move come the breakup of ice in the spring of 1979. The Soo River Company has decided to rename its veteran (1909) steamer GEORGE G. HENDERSON, (a) SHENANGO (58), (b) B. W. DRUCKENMILLER (64), (c) A. T. LAWSON (75). During the winter, she will be given the name (e) HOWARD F. ANDREWS in honour of a gentleman who, although long associated with the Hanna interests, is not related to Matthew Andrews, for whom other ships have been named. It has been learned that the Hall Corporation's newly acquired tanker ARSENE SIMARD will be renamed (b) GASPE TRANSPORT. Several other names were considered by Halco but were rejected for one reason or another. Hall was scheduled to take delivery of the motorship on December 15 while she was in drydock at Montreal.
During late December, the former steamer PETER ROBERTSON (II), now renamed (d) MARINSAL and chartered by Marine Salvage Ltd. to the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority, was moved to a position below Lock One at Port Weller. This move is in anticipation that testing of the two prototype shunters might begin in the lower reaches of the canal immediately after it closes for the season, ice conditions permitting. MARINSAL has retained her Kinsman red hull but her stack is now blue with a black top. She has been ballasted down to simulate conditions that might prevail were the shunters to handle a normal lake vessel.
The sale of WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE by United States Steel to S & E Shipping Corporation (Kinsman Lines) was finalized during the week of December 10 and she is now officially a part of the Kinsman fleet. In the interim, she has been the object of attention from Fraser Shipyard workers who have been doing certain work for the new owner. The McGONAGLE will probably have a grain storage cargo at the American Lakehead during the winter. Despite the prognostications of numerous observers, we understand that there is a distinct possibility that Kinsman will not rename the vessel.
The Honduran owners of the steam tanker TEGUCIGALPA, (a) IMPERIAL LONDON, have encountered unexpected difficulties in fitting out their new acquisition. Despite having raised steam back in October, the boat had not yet turned her engine by mid-December and her owners conceded that there was no chance of getting her out of the lakes before the close of navigation. Instead, fit-out crews will work at her during the winter and the ship herself will be removed from the Ramey's Bend scrapyard and moored at a location more suitable for the engine work. Her place in Ramey's Bend will be taken by the self-unloader AVONDALE.
Last year's winter navigation season was not such a happy one for the Interlake Steamship Company. Its bulk carrier CHARLES M. BEEGHLY was a victim of the January 26th windstorm, getting into trouble in the ice of Middle Neebish Channel. She punched a large hole in her bottom, bringing traffic on the St. Mary's River to a standstill and forcing the lightering of part of her cargo. This year, Interlake has been handed grief by both BEEGHLY and her sistership, JOHN SHERWIN (II).
In mid-December, the SHERWIN was downbound in the St. Mary's River when she snagged the Mission Point ice buoy. The buoy did a good job of denting the ship's side plates, but the worst damage was done by the buoy's anchor which tore a nasty gash in the SHERWIN's bottom. With the AmShip workers still on strike, the job of repairing JOHN SHERWIN to get her ready for the winter season was taken on by Fraser Shipyards, Superior, Wisconsin. The boat was sent to the Fraser yard after unloading at Cleveland. CHARLES M. BEEGHLY waited a few days after her sister's accident before she had one herself. On the afternoon of December 22, the steamer was caught in a nasty snowstorm whilst trying to negotiate the Duluth harbour entrance. The lake was calm but the visibility bad, and BEEGHLY ran onto one of the pierheads. She damaged a number of hull plates and was dispatched to Fraser Shipyards for repairs so that she might be ready for late navigation.
December 22 was a bad day for lakers trying to negotiate harbour entrances. During the afternoon, the CHARLES M. BEEGHLY got hers at Duluth. That evening, the 73-year-old Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. steam bulk carrier MARTHA HINDMAN was approaching Goderich with her last cargo of the season, storage grain. A heavy sea was running as the boat entered the Goderich pierheads and, with her speed checked so that she might safely pass ALGOWAY which was loading at the salt dock, she lost steerageway and was swept down onto the south pier. MARTHA HINDMAN tore a 25-foot hole in her starboard bow near the waterline and began to take water rapidly . With the aid of tugs, she was placed alongside the elevator and the local fire department was called to the scene to help pump water from her forward end. The water gained, however, and MARTHA HINDMAN gradually settled with her bow on the harbour bottom in about 25 feet of water. The unloading of her cargo was started the next day and we understand that there was little if any damage to the grain. As she was unloaded, of course, the puncture rose above the waterline. It is to be hoped that Q & O will consider the aging steamer to be worth the cost of repair. MARTHA HINDMAN, (a) LYMAN C. SMITH, is a particularly handsome boat and one of the oldest vessels still operating on the lakes. It would be unfortunate indeed should her career be ended by an accident of this nature.
This has not been a good year for the Paterson canaller TROISDOC (III). Back in the spring, she got into an argument with a Welland Canal lock wall and flattened her bow nicely. Then, on December 7, whilst downbound in the Neebish Rock Cut, St. Mary's River, TROISDOC strayed out of the channel and opened a 50-foot gash in her hull plating. She was brought back up the river and was taken to the Government Wharf in the Canadian Soo where temporary repairs were made. On December 9, she departed the Soo for Collingwood and there the damage will be permanently repaired by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. during the winter months.
A particularly disturbing report reached us earlier from sources connected with Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. The word was that while POINTE NOIRE is in good condition and will have considerable money spent on her during the next few years, both MEAFORD and GODERICH may be very near to the end of their operating careers. The latter steamers, both built in 1906, are showing their age, and MEAFORD, in particular, has been suffering from boiler problems. Much to our gratification, however, we now learn that Upper Lakes has made no formal decision on the future of either boat. MEAFORD will run at least through until July 1979 when she is due for survey and inspection, but whether she will be given the necessary drydocking and maintenance is an altogether different question. GODERICH, like MEAFORD, is presently laid up at Toronto for the winter and was given a good lay-up which would tend to indicate that she may fit out in the spring. We sincerely hope that Upper Lakes will decide to keep these veteran steamers in service.
We are indeed happy to report that IMPERIAL SARNIA has once again been granted a reprieve from the woeful fate which has been forecast for her during the last four years. Imperial Oil Limited has decided to expend the funds necessary for the replacement of much of her deck and this extensive work will guarantee her future for a good many seasons to come. The SARNIA is presently ensconced in the yard of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. where the work will be put in hand over the winter.
The Misener steam bulk carrier ROYALTON, built in 1924 at Collingwood for the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd., did not operate during 1978 and most observers thought that she had reached the end of the line when she was withdrawn from the Thunder Bay - Indiana Harbor ore trade which she had served for many years. To make matters worse, she suffered considerable damage at the hands of Hamilton vandals early in the fall. Not to worry. It seems that Misener Transportation Ltd. will have need of ROYALTON's services during 1979 and present plans are that she will fit out in the spring.
Some years back, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd. dropped what had long been a lucrative package freight route, that between Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton. For many years, this run had been served by the line's "express steamers", mainly the boats of the "City" class. In due course of time, however, the lower lake service was discontinued and, for the through service, the stop at Toronto was abandoned in favour of Port Credit. Then the call at Port Credit itself was dropped and all freight destined for this area was handled through Hamilton. Recently, it has even looked as if C.S.L. might be on the verge of quitting the package freight service entirely. Under the circumstances, therefore, it was with considerable surprise that we received the news that the Montreal-Toronto-Hamilton service will be revived by C.S.L. in 1979. Granted, the operation won't be exactly the way it was before; the "City" boats are all gone and the general cargo will be carried in containers. But who complains? The run will be made by the newly-refurbished motorship FRENCH RIVER which has now emerged from many years of idleness spent at Hamilton. In fact, FRENCH RIVER was placed on drydock at Port Weller during December and has since been returned to Hamilton for the winter. We understand that FRENCH RIVER was chosen for the new service because of the fact that her side ports are large enough to permit the movement of containers, a requirement which none of the other C.S.L. package freighters could meet. FRENCH RIVER is not the most beautiful ship on the lakes, but we will be glad to see her back in service and the old route reestablished.
In the December issue, we mentioned that the Branch Lines Ltd. tanker EDOUARD SIMARD would be rebuilt and lengthened by 18 feet during the present winter. We reported that the work would be done at Lauzon, Quebec, by Davie Shipbuilding but we now learn that Davie will not be doing the work. Apparently, the contract for the rebuilding of the motorship was let before the takeover of Branch Lines by the interests who own Davie and hence the ship was still under the control of Marine Industries at the time. As might be imagined, the contract was accordingly let to Marine Industries Ltd. and the work will be done at the Sorel shipyard despite the change in management of the fleet which has occurred in the interim.
The first of the new U.S. Coast Guard tugs, KATMAI BAY, arrived at Buffalo on December 7th. Commissioning ceremonies are scheduled to be held on January 8 at Cleveland. She is due to arrive at her base in the Soo on January 16, whereupon she will take up regular duty. For the duration of the winter, the aging tug NAUGATUCK will be retained at the Soo as well but, when spring arrives and the winter's ice problems have passed, NAUGATUCK will be sent off to a base in the New England area.
As part of its preparations for assuming the task of hauling Republic Steel iron ore, the Interlake Steamship Company had intended to have its bulk carrier ELTON HOYT 2nd converted to a self-unloader during this winter. A contract for the work had been let to the American Shipbuilding Company which was to attend to the job at its Lorain shipyard. The AmShip work force has, however, been on strike since August and it now seems unlikely that work on the HOYT will begin as scheduled in January unless some other yard can take on the job.
During the late autumn of 1978, rumours were making the rounds concerning the possible retirement of certain vessels of the Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Company. In particular, mention was made of the self-unloaders SYLVANIA and J. R. SENSIBAR and the craneship BUCKEYE (II). Well now, it seems that we have good news and we have bad news, the latter not really unexpected. First of all, the Columbia management has no present intention of withdrawing either the 1905-built SYLVANIA or the SENSIBAR which was built one year later. While it is true that both boats are getting well along in years, they are still of use to Columbia and should continue to operate, at least for the time being, unless some unforeseen problem of a major nature should develop.
BUCKEYE, however, has had the biscuit and will not operate again for Columbia. This most interesting steamer, converted to a craneship and self-unloader in 1958, was built at Cleveland back in 1910 and sailed previously as (a) LEONARD B. MILLER (37), (b) CHARLES W. GALLOWAY (58), and (c) ROBERT C. NORTON (I)(74). Since the conversion, she has carried just about every cargo known to lake shippers, and years of having such things as pig iron and railway wheels dumped into her holds have taken their toll on her internal steelwork which is now greatly deteriorated. In addition, she suffered damage in an April 20, 1978, grounding in the Middle Neebish Channel. BUCKEYE was given minor repairs but only enough to permit her a temporary extension of her certificate to the end of the navigation season. Columbia has no intention of spending the serious money that would be required to put the aging steamer into operating condition.
The retirement of BUCKEYE will have two very interesting side effects. The first is that with her will go her big triple-chime steam whistle, the last still in regular use on a lake freighter. (The only other one still used regularly is on the tug EDNA G. The Cliffs steamer THOMAS F. PATTON has one but uses it for ceremonial purposes only.) The second effect is that with her retirement, we see the disappearance of the last of the major American lake craneships. BUCKEYE was frequently called upon to render lightering assistance to vessels in trouble and we have no idea what will take her place.
ALGOBAY, her bow in considerable disarray after her argument with the tug POINTE MARGUERITE at Sept-Iles on November 14, was taken to the shipyard at Thunder Bay (Port Arthur) for repairs. The work was expedited so that ALGOBAY would not lose the entire remainder of the navigation season and, in fact, she was back in service in late December. POINTE MARGUERITE and two of her three crewmen, however, are still lying on the bottom of the harbour at Sept-Iles. It is expected that the tug will eventually be raised.
The McAllister lightering barge MAPLEHEATH was apparently in some kind of trouble on Lake Ontario near Port Weller on November 27. We saw a brief news report to the effect that she had broken away from her tug in heavy weather whilst en route to Hamilton with a load of taconite, and that her crew had been removed by helicopter, the barge subsequently roaming around the lake without lights. We have no idea how this escapade began or ended, nor do we know what MAPLEHEATH was doing in these parts at all. Can any of our readers assist us with this matter?
We reported previously that N. M. Paterson and Sons Ltd., Thunder Bay, has reactivated its canaller LAWRENDOC (II) and has sent her to the east coast after drydocking at Collingwood. The motorship will remain in service on salt water during the winter. Meanwhile, Paterson has also pulled out of lay-up her sistership, MONDOC (III), and she also has been sent eastwards. MONDOC, however, is not in as good condition as LAWRENDOC and Paterson will be seeking a buyer for MONDOC during the winter. Word of a finalized sale is expected shortly.
In the December issue, we commented upon the departure for scrapping of the former Westdale Shipping self-unloader LEADALE. We mentioned that she was bound for a stopover at Sorel, but instead she put in at Quebec City where she was lying on November 15. It has been confirmed that her destination is a Colombian port (Cartagena, perhaps?) where she will be dismantled.
Back in 1972, the city of Cleveland acquired the U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender WOODBINE for use as a training facility for students. The training programme was not successful and, during the autumn of 1978, the city offered WOODBINE for sale. While we would have thought that it was unlikely that WOODBINE would be sold for active service, it seems that this has, in fact, transpired. The vessel was sold for the princely sum of $28,000 to the Lake Towing Company Inc. of Avon, Ohio, which apparently plans to use her in commercial lake service. We have no details on the type of trade in which the firm plans to use WOODBINE and we shall be interested to see what may develop in this regard.
HERON BAY (II), now idle at Quebec City and renamed HERON B., has been sold by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company Ltd. to A. Ziff and Sons (Union Pipe and Machinery Ltd.), Montreal, for scrapping. It would seem likely that she will eventually be resold to overseas breakers. Meanwhile, SHELTER BAY (II) has continued to suffer from boiler problems and Q & O has decided that the cost of keeping her in service is no longer warranted. She arrived at Goderich on December 23 with a winter storage grain cargo and will henceforth be used as a storage barge by the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company Ltd. which has purchased the steamer.
With her sister PIC RIVER (now PIC R.) sold to United Metals for scrapping and laid up at Hamilton, BLACK RIVER continued to operate for Q & O through the autumn. She is apparently in somewhat better condition than was PIC RIVER at the time of the latter's retirement. BLACK RIVER arrived at Toronto on December 17 with a storage cargo and seems to have been given a good layup. Although Q & O had previously announced that both PIC RIVER and BLACK RIVER would be retired in 1978, we have since heard that Q & O may decide to run BLACK RIVER again in 1979 and also that they may try to find a buyer for her during the winter months. We find it hard to imagine that anyone would purchase an 83-year-old boat for anything but scrap! As frequently seems to be the case with stories involving Q & O, we will simply have to be patient and wait to see what happens.
Toronto's old Eastern Gap once sported two lighthouses, both of classical design. A large lighthouse, equipped latterly with a deep-toned foghorn, was located at the outer end of the east pier, while a smaller structure featuring only a fixed light and fog bell, sat at the inner end of the same pier. During 1973 and 1974, the Eastern Gap was deepened and widened so that it might become the main harbour entrance. The east pier was completely removed and the lighthouses placed in storage at Terminal 51. They were no longer needed as a new light had been built at the southwestern extremity of the eastern headland, a spit of manmade land extending into the lake from the foot of Leslie Street. On December 11, 1978, the Toronto Harbour Commission voted to fix up the two old lighthouses and place them on display in the aquatic park which will be developed at the tip of the headland. It is to be assumed that they will not be used for navigational purposes.
For some years now, a number of Toronto's salt water shipping terminals have been closed to marine traffic and relegated to use by trucking companies and, in one case, Harbour Commission office facilities. None of the general cargo wharves along Queen's Quay are now used by vessels except for winter lay-up purposes. Now comes word that the continued reduction in salt water tonnage using the port may force the Commission to close Terminal 35, commonly known as the Cousins Terminal. Located on Cherry Street between Villiers and Polson Streets, it was constructed since the opening of the Seaway and, in recent years, has been visited by Russian vessels which handle goods such as farm machinery. The terminal, however, seems to be unsuitable for container shipments and, in future, all salt water general cargo will be handled at Terminal 51 which is located at the inner end of the Eastern Gap. The only exception will be goods requiring the use of Atlas, the heavy lift crane, located at the south-east corner of the Cousins Terminal on the Polson Street slip.
We earlier reported that the Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. ocean bulk carrier CANADIAN TRANSPORT (I) cleared Tampa on October 5, 1978 bound for a Spanish scrapyard. We have since learned that, prior to being taken in tow by the tug JASON, the vessel was renamed TRANSPORT. The abbreviation of her name appears to have been made to free the name CANADIAN TRANSPORT for use on Hull 64, the new Upper Lakes self-unloader nearing completion at Port Weller.
The Bay Shipbuilding Corp., on December 5th, laid the keel for its Hull 723. a self-unloader ordered by the American Steamship Company. The new vessel will measure 728 x 78 x 45 and is scheduled to be ready for service in April 1980. There is no word on a proposed name for the ship as yet.
The deck crew for the new U.S. Steel self-unloader EDWIN H. GOTT was called to report for duty during the last week in December and the vessel should make her debut on the lakes during January, weather conditions permitting. The entry into service of the GOTT will surely mean the permanent retirement of more of the older boats in the tinstack fleet. It would be our guess that steamers such as WILLIAM A. IRVIN, B. F. AFFLECK, and HORACE JOHNSON may not see service again, and in this group we might even include the turbine-powered HOMER D. WILLIAMS and the motorship EUGENE W. PARGNY.
This last news item has been left to the end of our Marine News Section because we think that is exactly where it belongs. A Canadian group headed by actor, writer, sailor (etc.) Ratch Wallace has begun work on a film entitled "November Gale" which will be a somewhat "fictionalized" version of the loss of EDMUND FITZGERALD. Wallace and his crew have been filming on Lake Superior and, just before Christmas, made a trip on Algoma Central Marine's V. W. SCULLY which will play the part of FITZGERALD in the film. The FITZGERALD name was pasted onto the SCULLY and, in that state, she passed down through the Soo Locks on December 19. What class! From available accounts, it seems that the film will be less a documentary of the loss of the ship than it will be a fictional "view of a sailor's life". Sounds just wonderful, doesn't it?
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.