SS Pere Marquette

The SS Pere Marquette (also Pere Marquette 15) was the world's first steel train ferry. It sailed on Lake Michigan and provided service between the ports of Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, for the Pere Marquette Railway from 1897 to 1930. The railway used the named Pere Marquette for many of its ships and ferries, adding a number to the end of the name.

Railroad car ferry

The carferry was built by the Wheeler Shipyards in Bay City, Michigan, in 1896 at a cost of $300,000. The vessel was built for the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad and complete when launched, except for a few finishing items needed for the cabins. It left Bay City on December 30, 1896, and arrived first in Milwaukee for a day's public inspection.[1] It then continued onto Ludington from there and arrived on January 13, 1897. The ship had split cabins, one in front of the smoke stacks and one behind them. They provided sleeping berths for the officers and ten passengers.[2]

The steamship was 350 feet (110 m) long and 56 feet (17 m) wide. It measured 2,443 gross register tons and had two twelve foot propellers for its driving force. There were two compound engines that produced 2,500 horsepower.[3] The ship had electricity from stem to stern that was controlled at the pilot house. The inside deck had four railroad tracks with a capacity of 30 freight boxcars. Fully loaded the carferry had a displacement of some 4,050 tons on a 12.25 foot (3.73 m) draft of water. The vessel traveled in both the summer and winter and was capable of handling severe gales.[4] Its hull was constructed to break up heavy ice.[5] It was unique in that it was first steel train ferry constructed in the world.[6][7][8][9]

The vessel carried railroad cars and passengers and went into service as a cross-lake train ferry going across Lake Michigan. It made its official maiden voyage from Ludington to Manitowoc on the night of February 16, 1897. It carried 22 railroad freight boxcars and traveled all night at a speed of 14 knots and arrived at its destination at 7:00 A.M. on February 17, 1897.[10] The steamship was originally called the Pere Marquette and renamed the Pere Marquette No. 15 in 1924.[11][12]

The naval architect who designed the steamship was Robert Logan. He designed six car ferries for the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad between 1895 and 1910. He was born in Scotland and started shipbuilding in Canada in 1888.[13]

See also

References

  1. "Pere Marquette 15". The Carferries of the Great Lakes. M. Hanley. 2005. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  2. Peterson, Paul S. (March 18, 1997). "First steel carferry is the Pere Marquette". Steam & Steel Section B. Ludington Daily News. p. 3.
  3. Simmons-Boardman (1897). Marine Engineering/log. Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation. p. 6.
  4. "Marine History". Daily News. Ludington, Michigan. June 24, 1943 via Newspapers.com.
  5. Mac Loren, Agnes (January 4, 1957). "This & That from History". Ludington Daily News. p. 2 via Newspapers.com. The Pere Marquette, which was the widest steamer on the Great Lakes, was the first steel carferry in the world.
  6. "Sunday Marks 45th Birthday of World's First Steel Carferry". Ludington Daily News. February 13, 1943. p. 1 via Newspapers.com.
  7. MacLaren, Agnes (February 19, 1952). "First steel Carferry made Maiden Voyage 55 Years Ago Today". Ludington Daily News via Newspapers.com. Fifty five years ago, on Feb 19, 1897, there steamed out of Ludington's harbor the first steel carferry in the world, departing on her maiden voyage.
  8. Bagley, Les (June 7, 2007). "Autos Across Mackinac: Pere Marquette Makes New Home in St. Ignace". St. Ignace News. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  9. Hilton, George Woodman (2003). The Great Lakes Car Ferries. Montevallo Historical Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-9658624-3-1.
  10. Hilton (2003), pp. 100, 203.
  11. Peterson, Paul S. (March 18, 1997). "Scottish man designs six of the local fleet". Steam & Steel Section B. Ludington Daily News. p. 3.
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