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Mason County Memories


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



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Ships of the Great Lakes History Column Dave Petersen There were many types of ships on the Great Lakes during the 20th century from the glamorous and lofty cruise ships to the hardworking tugs and lumber hookers. All played their role in an industry that employed thousands on the lakes and in the many industries that supported the lake trade. All of the ships illustrated today had important roles to play and were an important part of the lake trade and traffic. Lighthouse supply ships, whaleboats, passenger ships, all added to the kaleidoscope of maritime traffic. Ship watching was as much a past time as anything else you might think of today. Pic1 The Glen of Manistee was originally built as and named the Argo, and while it was not the ship that Jason sailed in his search for the golden fleece she did ply the waters of Lake Michigan in search of loads of lumber to carry from the pinery to the markets of the big cities. She was named the Glenn only for a period of eight years from 1930 to 1938 and is shown here in Manistee. Pic2 The Puritan was built in 1901 for service on the Great Lakes passenger routes she was taken over by the Navy in 1918 during WWI remodeled and renamed the USS Puritan. Her service in the Navy was short lived and 1919 found her decommissioned and back up for sale and eventually back in the passenger service. After being laid up she was purchased by and renamed for George M Cox. She was put back in service in Lake Superior in 1933 where she promptly ran aground on the Rock of Ages on her maiden voyage and sunk, luckily without any loss of life. Pic3 The Whaleback Christopher Columbus had the distinction of being the only whaleback ship constructed for passenger service on the Great Lakes. She saw service in 1893 starting with her debut at the 1893 Columbian World's Fair at Chicago and her first owner was named the Columbian Whaleback Steamship Company. The Christopher Columbus was a popular excursion boat that serviced ports throughout Lake Michigan before being scrapped in 1936. Pic4 The City of Grand Rapids was one of six ships to be built to the same design, if you ever wanted to see it, feel it and touch it then a trip to Manistee to see the City of Milwaukee would be in order as she is one of the sister ships that also included the PM 21, PM 22, The Ann Arbor #7 and the Madison. Over a seven year period these six ships were built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. Pic5 The Virginia is shown here steaming out of Pere Marquette Lake circa 1930. She was built in 1891 in Cleveland Ohio for the Goodrich Transportation Company and like the Puritan found herself drafted for service by the navy in 1918 and back on the lakes again the following year only this time in California and renamed the Avalon. She provided service until 1951. After that she caught on fire while being converted to a yacht in 1960 and scrapped. Pic6 Lightship Tender Sumac Lighthouse Tenders were named after flowers such as the Dahlia, trees such as the Walnut, Sumac, or plants. These tenders traveled the Great Lakes bringing supplies to the lightships, lighthouses and placing and tending to buoys. If you have any photographs or stories you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 email davep@blackcreekpress.com or write in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431

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