View Full Version : More Old Wood: Steamer Bessie

08-27-2004, 07:17 PM
Here's one of my maternal g-grandfather's boats. They didn't waste too much time refinishing these boats. They paid for themselves in a single season, and everything after that was profit.

The Milwaukee Public Library entry for the steam barge Bessie follows:

Title Bessie.
Publisher [Milwaukee, Wis.: Milwaukee Public Library, 1989- ]
Description items in folder : ill., photos. ; 22 x 28 cm. Official no.: 3122.

Wooden steam barge built in 1880 by Harriman at Fair Haven, or Swan Creek, Michigan for Schnoor.

Engines: High pressure non-condensing 14 x 14, supplying 114 H.P. built by Dry Dock Engine Works in Detroit, Michigan in 1880.

Boilers: Fire-box Builder: J. S. Ruby Built: Fair Haven Gross Tonnage: 89.22 Net: 44.61 Hull: Wood
Length: 97.2 Beam: 20.5 Draft: 6.4


Jack Heinlen
09-01-2004, 07:02 AM
Thanks for posting those Wind. Interesting that the 'steam barges', by which I assume is meant a small, general cargo carrier, have the pilothouse aft, at a time when the larger and larger ore and grain carriers were standardizing the forward pilothouse seen on all bulk lake carriers today.

Nice photos. They bring back memories of our cottage outside Cheboygan, reading Havingurst and Bowen on a windswept night, huddled beneath Pendleton 'point' blankets against the chill, the sound of Mullett Lake tatooing the shore as backdrop.

The history of shipping in the Great Lakes makes fascinating reading. So many wrecks, so many lives lost, in those rough inland seas.

Brother Bill has a cottage on the shore of Bois Blanc Island, and watching the ship traffic is a fine way to wile away a rainy, cold day.

[ 09-01-2004, 08:13 AM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

09-01-2004, 07:44 AM
I hadn't really thought about the pilot house being aft like that. Funny, now the big oil carriers have all gone aft as well (I think to increase capacity). The way these guys ran into things, it probably made them feels safer :eek:

There were over 6,000 wrecks, and 30,000 lives lost on the Great Lakes, and over 90% of them were wood before 1900 or so. Thank God for the Weather Channel!

09-01-2004, 07:34 PM
Thats pretty neat Wind, I also find it interesting that it could pay for itself in one season! I just finished reading a book called The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis which touches on the shipping and traffic history of the Great Lakes, actually a fascinating read which I highly recommend.