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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

Ships Wheel Fundraiser Historical items from our history abound in numbers and in distance from Ludington. As people move so do the artifacts, photographs and ephemera that help define the history of our area. Collectors try to root out and bring back those gems and our Historical Society also seeks out artifacts to preserve, interpret and display for our collective benefit. During the course of my correspondence with the family that provided all of the photos and background information on the articles I wrote about Captain Hoxie earlier this year I uncovered the location of the Ships wheel from the Nevada. It's a massive wheel weighing in the neighborhood of a couple hundred pounds with a large brass center. The owner has decided to sell the wheel for $3,000.00 and I am spearheading a fundraising drive to purchase this for the new Maritime Museum that is to be operated by the Mason County Historical Society. An account has been designated by the Society to receive donations toward this goal. Captain Hoxie had removed the Ships wheel, and had it at his home in Ludington where it remained until after his daughter passed away and it was then taken to the Detroit area where it has remained for roughly the last 25 years. Hoxie had also removed the ships steam whistle and had it mounted on the Milwaukee Clipper where it was used to communicate with the engine room until it was stolen a few years back while the ship was docked in Chicago. The nameplate from the Nevada also was removed and adorned the fireplace at the Hoxie home and that piece of local history has also disappeared some 35 years ago along with his uniforms that were most likely sold after his death. Different people still have fond memories of the Nevada, and Captain Hoxie. D. Allan Gavan whose parents traveled often aboard the Nevada became friends with Captain Hoxie were teased by Hoxie that if the baby were born on one of their many trips aboard the Nevada they should name him Allan. Out of respect or out of friendship the new baby boy's middle name was Allan. He does by the way claim the most crossings on the Nevada [19] before the age of one. As a young boy D. Allan Gavan also recalls that he was a favored passenger and remembers the gleaming brass fittings, white walls, the "wonderful powerful noise" of the engine room and the thrill of standing on an old crate to steer the Nevada. He recalls that same wheel and a brass plate from the Nevada graced the walls of the Hoxie home in Hamlin Township. Hoxie became Master of the Nevada and served continuously in that position from 1922 to 1935. The Nevada operated out of the Ludington port for most of its Great Lakes career. The Nevada was reportedly Hoxie's favorite ship up to that time. 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. 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. I would love to see this piece of our local history returned to Ludington for inclusion in the new Maritime Museum and whether it can happen or not will depend on all of us who love the boats and the history of our area. A donation may be made online by going to the Historical Societies Website at http://www.historicwhitepinevillage.org/net/Donations.aspx and donations may be made by mail as well by sending it directly to White Pine Village 1687 South Lakeshore Drive Ludington Mi. 49431. Please mark all donations for this purpose SHIPS WHEEL.

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