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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



david k petersen

In our first installment we looked at the life and career of A K Hoxie up to the point that the Pere Marquette No. 3 sank in 1920 and being temporarily assigned to the PM No. 4. He became Master of the Nevada and served continuously in that position from 1922 to 1935. The Nevada was reportedly his favorite ship. According to Captain Robert Priefer when Hoxie moved on to become Master of the Clipper in 1941 he took the whistle from the Nevada to use as a back-up whistle to communicate with the engine room on the Clipper. Originally built for the Goodrich Transit Company with ice breaking capabilities in 1915 by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company she was sold 2 years later to the Russian government in 1917. The Nevada was then re-named the Rogday, but before it could be delivered the Russian Revolution had begun and the ship was held, moored and eventually transferred to the U.S. Navy in November of 1918 with plans to use the Rogday for her ice breaking capabilities The Rogday was moved once and then remained moored in Boston until June of 1921 when she was activated and was called out to assist a cargo ship at sea. Once that mission was completed the Rogday returned to dock and remained idle until September of 1921 when the boat was returned to the new Russian Government. She was purchased from the Russian Government, by the PM Steamers Line on that same day for service on the Great Lakes. Renamed the Nevada she served in this capacity until 1935 when she was cut down and refitted to carry additional cars, cargo and containers. Hoxie had a reputation on board ship to be a tough, demanding and strict taskmaster but Sylvia Kelly of Ludington recalls a different Captain Hoxie. Around 1928 her parents were shipping fruit from the farm to Milwaukee on the Nevada and that Captain Hoxie would take care of the shipments. In turn he would give a free pass to her father and she would on occasion ride across to Milwaukee with her father. Sylvia says that "Captain Hoxie took us under his wing and treated us like royalty, we had a special place to stay and it was a thrill of a lifetime for a young girl." In 1942 the Nevada was sold for use on the Atlantic Ocean and in December of 1943 the storm crippled ship foundered in the North Atlantic Ocean. The US Coast Guard ship Comanche arrived on the scene and was able to save 29 of the people on-board in a dramatic high seas rescue and 34 were lost. Interestingly enough Rogday is the name of a Knight in a Russian fairytale who met his death in battle attempting to [of course] save a princess and he fell into the raging waters of the Dnieper River. The Pere Marquette Line and the Pere Marquette Carferries operated by the Pere Marquette Railway Company were two separate business concerns that are often mixed up. Gus Kitzinger purchased the PM 2,3,and 4 in 1903 and formed what would be known as the Pere Marquette Line Steamers of the Michigan Salt Transportation Company. The Pere Marquette Line of Ships included the Virginia, Nevada, Georgia, Mark B Covel [PM-6] and others were often contracted work for the Pere Marquette Railroad. According to Carferry Historian Art Chavez "The Pere Marquette Railroad allowed Gus Kitzinger to maintain the name "Pere Marquette Line Steamers" in its advertising. This was advantageous to the PM Railroad, because Kitzinger's PM Line Steamers acted as a feeder line delivering break bulk and less than carload (LCL) freight to the PM Railroad's freight house at Ludington." Hoxie worked from 1910 until 1934 until the Pere Marquette Line Steamers merged with the Wisconsin Michigan Transportation Company and he continued with the new Wisconsin Michigan Steamship Company until his retirement in 1954. Hoxie was also Master of the Illinois in 1936 and 1940, the Illinois was built in 1899 by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company and operated by the Wisconsin Michigan Steamship Company and the Sand Products Corporation from 1933 to 1940 when she was laid up and eventually scrapped in 1947. Of the three great storms of the first half of the 20th Century Hoxie reported that he missed the first one in 1905 because he was "summer sailor" and all 3 of the storms occurred in November. In 1940 during the Great Armistice Day Storm he was Captain of the SS Illinois and left Milwaukee about 1 pm heading for Muskegon along with the City of Flint bound for Ludington. "Quoted from the Port Huron Times Herald May 27th 1956 Hoxie says "I realized as soon as we cleared the Milwaukee breakwater that we would never make the harbor at Muskegon so we turned around and went back to Milwaukee". The City of Flint under the command of Jens Vevang missed the harbor entrance, struck bottom and drifted, she became stuck on the sand bar just north of the Ludington break-wall. It was the correct call for Captain Hoxie to turn back that day but undoubtedly a hard call for a Captain who ran his ship under the mantra that "a ship can't make money at the dock" END part 2

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