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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Whaleback: 1910

Whaleback: 1910

Circa 1910. "Whaleback barge entering Weitzel Lock, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Clean seams

Welded ship hulls started in 1917 or so, so this is way too early. Possibilities are flush rivets with countersinking and simply an optical illusion; the thickness of the plates exceeds the protrusion of the rivets enough that you don't see it. You can see this with many pictures of ships where a close up would clearly show rivets.

What is a Whaleback?

Whaleback \Whale"back`\, n. (Naut.)
A form of vessel, often with steam power, having sharp ends
and a very convex upper deck, much used on the Great Lakes,
esp. for carrying grain.
Source: Free Dictionary

whaleback (ˈweɪlˌbæk)
— n
1. something shaped like the back of a whale
2. a steamboat having a curved upper dec

Clean seams?

The seams look welded. 1893 seems early for the process on such a large scale. Any info?

Kodak Moment

It appears that the little girl dressed in her Sunday finest at the lower right is snapping a 'Kodak' of the whale.

One Whaleback Survives

The S. S. Meteor is on display in Superior, Wis.

About whaleback barge no. 131

This barge lasted over fifty years, from its delivery in 1893 to its scrapping in 1946. It was constructed by American Steel Barge in Superior, Wisconsin, when that company was under the ownership of the whalebacks' greatest friend, Alexander McDougall. When owned by Bessemer Steamship Corp. and then Pittsburgh Steamship Co., it was based in Duluth. This barge was part of a small fleet later sold to Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse, Michigan. It was badly damaged in a collision in October 1905, between the Soo Locks and Lake Huron. Before it was moved in 1912 from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic coast for use in the New England coal trade, its length was shortened by 31 feet (from its original 292 feet). It was then renamed the Salem. Several decades and name changes later, its service came to an end in Houston.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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