Topics

C&O Lake Michigan Ferries, was Crappy Job

Donald B. Valentine
 

    I rode one of the C&O ferries from Manitowoc to Ludington in Aug. 1978 and got the shock of my life to watch a Milw.
switcher put three 6,000 gal. GPEX milk cars then leased to Richter Vinegar on the ferry. These were the last such I
saw in revenue service. One was subsequently pulled off to be placed on a lter ferry to provide more room for the number
of automobiles waiting, presumably at a more profitable rate. Sorry it's not our time frame but what ever happened to the
car ferries after service was suspended? Sold for similar service elsewhere?

Cordially, Don Valentine

Don Burn
 

The SS Badger is still running just not carrying freight cars, see https://www.ssbadger.com/about/history/

Don Burn

-----Original Message-----
From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Donald B. Valentine via Groups.Io
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2019 8:12 PM
To: main@realstmfc.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] C&O Lake Michigan Ferries, was Crappy Job

I rode one of the C&O ferries from Manitowoc to Ludington in Aug. 1978 and got the shock of my life to watch a Milw.
switcher put three 6,000 gal. GPEX milk cars then leased to Richter Vinegar on the ferry. These were the last such I

saw in revenue service. One was subsequently pulled off to be placed on a lter ferry to provide more room for the number of automobiles waiting, presumably at a more profitable rate. Sorry it's not our time frame but what ever happened to the car ferries after service was suspended? Sold for similar service elsewhere?

Cordially, Don Valentine

John
 

The City of Midland 41 was cut down to a barge and still operates as the Pere Marquette 41. I saw it with the tug Undaunted off South Manitou island in Lake Michigan two weeks ago.

John Bopp
Farmington Hills, MI

Dennis Storzek
 

And I believe the Spartan is tied up in Luddington, a spare parts source for the Badger.

Dennis Storzek

Thomas Evans
 

I had the great good fortune to sail on the City Of Milwaukee across Lake Michigan late in her carrier when she was the Ann Arbor spare boat - filled with freight cars & a few large trucks with my little VW tucked in behind.
She was an oil-burning steamer with reciprocating engines.  I got to go below & watch the engines work.  She was not in the best of shape with steam leaks & rod knocks, but she was beautiful.
It was a great experience!!

Tom

Craig Wilson
 

Let's see if I can do this off the top of my head:
1.  Pere Marquette/Chesapeake & Ohio
Badger - still in service at Ludington (autos and trucks only)
Spartan - laid up at Ludington / spare parts periodically salvaged for use on Badger
City of Midland 41 - superstructure removed above car deck - in service as a barge
2.  Grand Trunk Western
Madison, Grand Rapids and City of Milwaukee:  all identical "Manitowoc" boats
Madison and Grand Rapids retired and scrapped
City of Milwaukee  purchased by State of Michigan and leased to Ann Arbor (its last active service).  Later donated to preservation group and moved to Manistee as museum boat (Great Lakes vessels are "boats" not "ships")
3.  Ann Arbor
City of Green Bay (built as Wabash) retired in 1960's and towed to Spain for scrapping
Arthur K Atkinson (built as AA No 6) towed at first to Ludington then to Kewaunee.  Finally sold to private individual and towed to Detour Village (in eastern upper peninsula).  Finally scrapped 
Viking (built as AA No 7) last operable AA boat.  Used briefly in service across Lake Erie.  Towed to shipyard in Menominee Mich.  After several failed attempts to sell the vessel and put back into service, was finally cut down into a barge.

At this time only three vessels still exist in their car ferry form:  the Badger, Spartan and City of Milwaukee

Craig Wilson


Denny Anspach
 

Albeit that it never really ever operated in service on the Great Lakes, there is I believe still one more intact existing railroad car ferry still afloat on Lake Michigan:  the ex-CN  Abegweit.  This stern-loading salt water ferry operated for many years between Cape Tormentine, NB and Prince Edward Island across the Canso Straits, providing the latter’s isolated CN trackage its only mainland connection. The abandonment of PEI trackage and the construction of a bridge put the Abeguit and other ferries out of business. The Abegweit went to Chicago to become the floating clubhouse of the Columbia Yacht Club. 

My connection to this ship (this is a “salty”) was a time in 1960 when I boarded at Cape Tormentine with my 1957 Plymouth-cum-trailed boat nosed right up to the coupler (filling my windshield vision) of the daily overnight Montreal-Summerside PEI sleeping car. If that car rolled, we were toast.  Loaded coal hoppers were carefully balanced.

This connection continued years later when I was an occasional guest on board this elegant club house at the Columbia Yacht Club, the last time some 15 or so years ago. Each time, I boarded I made a bee line to check to see whether or not  the trackage on the car deck was still intact. It was,  in toto AFIK (false flooring on top of the rails). 

(railroads and ships- an unholy alliance)

Denny
    
Denny S. Anspach MD
Okoboji, IA

James L. Jeffery
 

Am not sure if this was mentioned before but there is a GTW carferry "The City of Milwaukee" in Manistee, MI. Of which I have a near HO scale scratchbuilt model.

Jim Jeffery

On September 11, 2019 at 8:53 AM Denny Anspach <danspachmd@...> wrote:

Albeit that it never really ever operated in service on the Great Lakes, there is I believe still one more intact existing railroad car ferry still afloat on Lake Michigan:  the ex-CN   Abegweit.  This stern-loading salt water ferry operated for many years between Cape Tormentine, NB and Prince Edward Island across the Canso Straits, providing the latter’s isolated CN trackage its only mainland connection. The abandonment of PEI trackage and the construction of a bridge put the Abeguit and other ferries out of business. The Abegweit went to Chicago to become the floating clubhouse of the Columbia Yacht Club. 

My connection to this ship (this is a “salty”) was a time in 1960 when I boarded at Cape Tormentine with my 1957 Plymouth-cum-trailed boat nosed right up to the coupler (filling my windshield vision) of the daily overnight Montreal-Summerside PEI sleeping car. If that car rolled, we were toast.  Loaded coal hoppers were carefully balanced.

This connection continued years later when I was an occasional guest on board this elegant club house at the Columbia Yacht Club, the last time some 15 or so years ago. Each time, I boarded I made a bee line to check to see whether or not  the trackage on the car deck was still intact. It was,   in toto AFIK (false flooring on top of the rails). 

(railroads and ships- an unholy alliance)

Denny
     
Denny S. Anspach MD
Okoboji, IA


 


 

Thomas Evans
 

Nobody has yet mentioned  the Chief Wawatam.
Unfortunately, I understand that she was scrapped 10 years ago.

Tom

Bob Miller
 

Here’s a photo of the Chief Wawatam taken 12/29/1978 at the dock in St. Ignace, Michigan

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Thomas Evans via Groups.Io
Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 2:23 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] C&O Lake Michigan Ferries, was Crappy Job

 

Nobody has yet mentioned  the Chief Wawatam.
Unfortunately, I understand that she was scrapped 10 years ago.

Tom

Daniel A. Mitchell
 

Yes, the “Chief” was scrapped, but first she was cut down to a barge and sailed about the lakes for several years before being cut up.

And nobody has yet mentioned the various railroad river ferries. These were operated by the C&O, Pere Marquette, N&W, and CN at least. All, or nearly all were originally self-propelled boats, but in later years those that survived (sort of) were cut down to barges (car floats) and used about by tugs (Towboats). This cut the crew requirements to about a third of those required to operate the original ferry.

CN had two such towboat-barge assemblies at Port Huron, MI, operating to Sarnia, Ont. C&O had one similar ferry at the same location. The CN barges (cut-down ex PM ferries) were interesting, in that they still had all their original equipment below decks. The boilers and engines, etc., were al still “down there”. Exploring below decks was challenging … little light, and lots of lifted deckplates. One wrong step and you were in for a fall into the bilges. The two towboats (Margaret York and Phyllis York) were very similar, but one had twin Cat. outdrives, and other had three. There was also one spare car float, that was an almost complete self-propelled ferry with most or all of it’s upper-works intact. Supposedly it came from somewhere in the Canadian “Maritimes”. I never saw it used.

A few of us knew one of the CN Captains, and could go over to Port Huron or Sarnia and ride the boats whenever we wanted. The Captain worked mostly at night, so that’s when we rode. We’d make three or so crossings each night. Lots of fun. In the winter sometimes a big ice flow would come down the river and push the entire ferry way down river before they could bust free. Many memories, all long past.

The car float aprons are all still there, now used mostly by fishermen. The tracks are long gone.

Dan Mitchell
==========

On Sep 11, 2019, at 3:31 PM, Bob Miller <cajonpass1995@...> wrote:

Here’s a photo of the Chief Wawatam taken 12/29/1978 at the dock in St. Ignace, Michigan
 
From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Thomas Evans via Groups.Io
Sent: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 2:23 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] C&O Lake Michigan Ferries, was Crappy Job
 
Nobody has yet mentioned  the Chief Wawatam.
Unfortunately, I understand that she was scrapped 10 years ago.

Tom 

<Chief Wawatam 12-78.jpg>

Dennis Storzek
 

On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 01:19 PM, Daniel A. Mitchell wrote:
Yes, the “Chief” was scrapped, but first she was cut down to a barge and sailed about the lakes for several years before being cut up.
If I remember correctly, the Chief's engine was saved, and now resides in the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc. The Chief was the last triple expansion reciprocating engines boat operating on the Lakes. The Badger is steam, but equipped with Skinner Unaflow engines.

Dennis Storzek

John
 

Two of the Chief's engines were saved.  One is in St; Ignace.


John Bopp
Farmington Hills, MI


On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 6:24 PM Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...> wrote:
On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 01:19 PM, Daniel A. Mitchell wrote:
Yes, the “Chief” was scrapped, but first she was cut down to a barge and sailed about the lakes for several years before being cut up.
If I remember correctly, the Chief's engine was saved, and now resides in the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc. The Chief was the last triple expansion reciprocating engines boat operating on the Lakes. The Badger is steam, but equipped with Skinner Unaflow engines.

Dennis Storzek

Dennis Storzek
 

On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 04:00 PM, John wrote:
Two of the Chief's engines were saved.  One is in St; Ignace.
 
 
Nice web site.

Dennis Storzek

Bob Weston
 

Hi Guys! There's a web site loaded with info on the Great Lakes Car Ferries, it even explains the Skinner Uni Flo engine which I believe was made in Erie, Pa. The web site can be found at carferries.com
Bob Weston

Daniel A. Mitchell
 

Just a slight correction/addition to an earlier post … the SS Badger Skinner Uniflo engines ARE “reciprocating” compound steam engines. So, in-service coal-fired reciprocating steam-engine powered vessels are not yet “gone from the Great Lakes”. Seriously endangered though!

The SS Spartan has similar engines, though she is now out of service.

Another note: The Chief Wawatam had THREE engines … two in the stern as usual, and one in the bow for a bow propellor. The front propellor was part of why she was such a powerful icebreaker (second only to the USCGC Mackinaw). The forward prop pulled water out from under the ice in front of the ship, weakening it. The front engine and prop were not used during the ice-free months.

I spent several hours in the Chief’s rear engine room, and was amazed how smooth and quiet these two big steam engines were when running. One had no trouble conversing in a normal voice. There was just a very low frequency “thud-thud” sound (more of a feeling than a sound) and a bunch of hissing, whooshing, and sliding noises.

Dan Mitchell
==========



On Sep 12, 2019, at 8:50 AM, Bob Weston via Groups.Io <oandle@...> wrote:

Hi Guys! There's a web site loaded with info on the Great Lakes Car Ferries, it even explains the Skinner Uni Flo engine which I believe was made in Erie, Pa. The web site can be found at carferries.com
Bob Weston

Alex Huff
 

One of the Chief Wawatam's many claims to fame is that it was the last hand-fired coal burning vessel in US commercial service.  Normally, as Dan posted above, the forward pair of boilers which supplied steam to the front prop were not used except in the winter to break ice.  Since the Chief loaded from the bow, which had a hinged sea gate for rough weather crossings, the forward prop also helped remove ice from the ferry slips.  There was one noteworthy summer trip from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City which used all three engines, a total of 4,500 hp.  The occasion was a race against the first built new automobile/truck ferry to operate at the Straits.  It was a Diesel powered boat and replaced clapped out, older railroad ferries in that service.  The Captain advised the crew that both boats would be leaving St. Ignace at the same time, which did not normally occur.  The firemen piled coal soaked with oil next to the six boilers' fire doors.  The Diesel ferry was double ended, so it had an early lead on the Chief which had to back out and wye before it took off in pursuit.  I talked to some of the crew who either told or were working at the time that the Chief caught up about midway.  The Captain ordered a course correction so the Chief would pass upwind of the white painted auto ferry.  The firemen were over firing the boilers and the stacks were pouring out black smoke.  It was the claim of the Chief's crew that the state boat was never as white afterwards.

The forward engine is the one preserved at the maritime museum.  It is big enough the museum had to expand its building.  Now chain driven by an electric motor, when visitors push a button the crankshaft rotates and the connecting and piston rods move up and down.  The pistons of three different diameters lie nearby.  At a lower level, the propeller shaft sticks out through a wall.  Attached is a fiberglass replica of the forward prop.  It is a bit eerie to see it suddenly begin to turn.  
Alex Huff         

Daniel A. Mitchell
 

Nice report. At some time I must get over there and see this exhibit. Thanks,

Dan Mitchell
==========

On Sep 12, 2019, at 3:04 PM, Alex Huff <dsrc512@...> wrote:

One of the Chief Wawatam's many claims to fame is that it was the last hand-fired coal burning vessel in US commercial service.  Normally, as Dan posted above, the forward pair of boilers which supplied steam to the front prop were not used except in the winter to break ice.  Since the Chief loaded from the bow, which had a hinged sea gate for rough weather crossings, the forward prop also helped remove ice from the ferry slips.  There was one noteworthy summer trip from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City which used all three engines, a total of 4,500 hp.  The occasion was a race against the first built new automobile/truck ferry to operate at the Straits.  It was a Diesel powered boat and replaced clapped out, older railroad ferries in that service.  The Captain advised the crew that both boats would be leaving St. Ignace at the same time, which did not normally occur.  The firemen piled coal soaked with oil next to the six boilers' fire doors.  The Diesel ferry was double ended, so it had an early lead on the Chief which had to back out and wye before it took off in pursuit.  I talked to some of the crew who either told or were working at the time that the Chief caught up about midway.  The Captain ordered a course correction so the Chief would pass upwind of the white painted auto ferry.  The firemen were over firing the boilers and the stacks were pouring out black smoke.  It was the claim of the Chief's crew that the state boat was never as white afterwards.

The forward engine is the one preserved at the maritime museum.  It is big enough the museum had to expand its building.  Now chain driven by an electric motor, when visitors push a button the crankshaft rotates and the connecting and piston rods move up and down.  The pistons of three different diameters lie nearby.  At a lower level, the propeller shaft sticks out through a wall.  Attached is a fiberglass replica of the forward prop.  It is a bit eerie to see it suddenly begin to turn.  
Alex Huff         

Claus Schlund \(HGM\)
 


Hi Alex and List Members,
 
Thanks Alex, what a great story!
 
Claus Schlund
 
 

----- Original Message -----
From: Alex Huff
Sent: Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:04 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] C&O Lake Michigan Ferries, was Crappy Job

One of the Chief Wawatam's many claims to fame is that it was the last hand-fired coal burning vessel in US commercial service.  Normally, as Dan posted above, the forward pair of boilers which supplied steam to the front prop were not used except in the winter to break ice.  Since the Chief loaded from the bow, which had a hinged sea gate for rough weather crossings, the forward prop also helped remove ice from the ferry slips.  There was one noteworthy summer trip from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City which used all three engines, a total of 4,500 hp.  The occasion was a race against the first built new automobile/truck ferry to operate at the Straits.  It was a Diesel powered boat and replaced clapped out, older railroad ferries in that service.  The Captain advised the crew that both boats would be leaving St. Ignace at the same time, which did not normally occur.  The firemen piled coal soaked with oil next to the six boilers' fire doors.  The Diesel ferry was double ended, so it had an early lead on the Chief which had to back out and wye before it took off in pursuit.  I talked to some of the crew who either told or were working at the time that the Chief caught up about midway.  The Captain ordered a course correction so the Chief would pass upwind of the white painted auto ferry.  The firemen were over firing the boilers and the stacks were pouring out black smoke.  It was the claim of the Chief's crew that the state boat was never as white afterwards.

The forward engine is the one preserved at the maritime museum.  It is big enough the museum had to expand its building.  Now chain driven by an electric motor, when visitors push a button the crankshaft rotates and the connecting and piston rods move up and down.  The pistons of three different diameters lie nearby.  At a lower level, the propeller shaft sticks out through a wall.  Attached is a fiberglass replica of the forward prop.  It is a bit eerie to see it suddenly begin to turn.  
Alex Huff         

Jack Mullen
 

On Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 07:00 AM, Daniel A. Mitchell wrote:
Just a slight correction/addition to an earlier post … the SS Badger Skinner Uniflo engines ARE “reciprocating” compound steam engines. So, in-service coal-fired reciprocating steam-engine powered vessels are not yet “gone from the Great Lakes”. Seriously endangered though!
As a further addition / clarification, the Unaflow engines in Spartan and Badger had just two stages of expansion, so Dennis's statement that the Chief was the last boat  with triple-expansion engines isn't contradicted. The Skinner Compound Unaflows were steeple compounds, i.e. vertical tandem compounds, a very different engine design from the classic marine VTE.
And a spelling note... Skinner used "Unaflow" as a trade name for their engines; "uniflow" is the generic term. 
Jack Mullen