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Mason County Memories

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History of the Great Lakes History Column Dave Petersen I have mentioned before that Captains of Great Lakes ships were held in high esteem in their communities and their personal history was often documented in the publications of the times. In 1899 J.B. Mansfield had "History of the Great Lakes" published in two massive volumes of over 1000 pages each. Volume two primarily held the histories of the Captains of vessels of the time and some of them were connected to Ludington and sailing interests connected to Ludington. We will quote from Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899 "Captain Charles Thompson, of Ludington, Mich., master of the F. & P.M. No. 3, is one of the younger lake captains on the Great Lakes, and has risen by slow but steady promotion through almost all the grades of marine service. He is pre-eminently a self-made man, owing his responsible position solely to his own faithful and efficient services. "He was born in Bradford, Penn., March 12, 1861, the son of George W. Thompson. The father was a native of Clarington, Forest Co., Penn., on the Clarion river. He was a soldier during the war of the Rebellion; at the close of which he engaged for a number of years in the oil business at Bradford, and there died when our subject was a lad of twelve years. Charles had up to this time received a good elementary education, but his school days ended with the death of his father. He went to Buffalo, and then reached Chicago on the steamer Cuba, arriving June 24, 1874, and, when but a boy of thirteen years, he began his career on the lakes. "In 1895 he entered the service of the F. & P.M. as mate of No. 4, and in October of the same year appointed captain of the F. & P.M. No. 1, and when she was sold by the company he became master of No. 2, serving until February 1, 1897, when he was made captain of the F. & P.M. No. 3, this boat plying between Milwaukee and Ludington on schedule time. Captain Thompson lives, with his wife, in a pleasant home at Ludington, and is esteemed as one of the most reliable and substantial men on the lakes." "Among the men who have achieved prominence in the vessel business at the port of Detroit is Lewis C. Waldo, who was for several years associated with the late Capt. E.M. Peck. Mr. Waldo was born in the State of New York, and when he was quite young his parents removed to Milwaukee, Wis., where he afterward attended school and acquired a good education. "When old enough to strike out for himself he went to Ludington, Mich., and engaged in lumber business. While at Ludington he had built, at Wheeler's Bay City yards, the steamer George W. Roby, handling the boat from Ludington for some years, in connection with his lumber interests. Mr. Waldo came to Detroit in 1890, and has largely extended his vessel connection, being now manager of the Northwestern & Roby Transportation Companies, and president of the Swain Wrecking Company. "The Northwestern Transportation Company, of which Mr. Waldo is secretary, treasurer, and general manager, owns the steamers H.H. Brown, S.R. Kirby, Fayette Brown and E.M. Peck, and the barge George E. Hartnell. These boats are operated on Lakes Michigan, Superior, Huron, and Erie in the transportation of iron ore, coal and grain. The Roby Transportation Company owns the steamer L.C. Waldo, built in 1896 at the Wheeler yards. "This boat, although not so large as some of her competitors, is one of the finest freight boats on the lakes, being provided with every modern appliance for the rapid and easy handling of cargoes. Mr. Waldo expresses himself as highly pleased at the performance of this boat during her first season." In a side note the steel steamer LC Waldo was wrecked on Gull Rock in Lake Superior in 1913, she was raised and fitted for service in 1916 and again sailed this time under the ownership of the Matthews Steamship Company. In 1944 she changed hands again and in 1967 was scrapped. If you have local stories and photographs and wish to share those with our reader please feel free to contact me at 757-3240, davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431.

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