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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Launch Party: 1905

Launch Party: 1905

September 2, 1905. St. Clair, Michigan. "Launch of steamer Frank J. Hecker." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


How come 105 years later the camera images on my "high end" phone come nothing near this?

Colonel Hecker

I had to Google Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927). Interesting guy - and what a mansion (still standing) he built in Detroit!

An Instant Classic

A very nice capture. This is the type of photograph I love and look forward to seeing here at Shorpy. Thank you!

Take that,

James Cameron!


I'm just a landlubber and maybe I'm not seeing things right but it appears to me that the plates on the lower levels are welded while the ones on the higher levels are riveted or bolted together. Is that a standard in shipbuilding and if so,why? Are welded seems easier to make watertight and if so, why not weld the rest of them,too?

Oh. My. God.

Magnificent, just magnificent. This shot was taken for a postcard printing company? Has anyone located any actual postcards made from this photo?

Those two children standing on the viewing deck were probably telling the story of this event to their grandchildren in 1975. The sweep of the girl's heavy plait tells you everything about the excitement, the awe, and the thrill of that moment. Could any sight have ever equaled this - at least one from the hand of man?

Hang on!

White knuckles on the taffrail.

Quite a shot

It would have taken skill and maybe a bit of luck to have captured this shot. 8x10 view cameras don't have a burst mode.


Like the guy said before me, WOW!!! What a photograph. It is exactly what I said when I first glanced at the picture. Textbook "capture" of the moment. Great find, Dave!



Fantastical photograph!!! Who was the camera person? They should be praised.


What a photograph..... and I DO mean photograph!!!

Wow ...

That's exactly why I love old cameras and classic photography!

3-D ... pfffft

We're always talking here on Shorpy about how we'd like to go back in time into one of the scenes photographed, but ... I really really want to go back in this one and be one of those people getting a front row seat for this! It must have been simply overpowering. Just looking at the photo gives me goosebumps.


Nice way to show the answer to that previous post about the rudder when a ship is launched sideways. Perfect.


I think this picture ranks among my very favorite here at Shorpy. What a majestic image with such movement, I feel as if the ship is going to coast right through my computer screen.

Wonderful Movement

It's wonderful how frozen in place yet full of motion this pic is. Beautiful.

Ladies Who Launch

Get all their clothes wet. Looks pretty cold for this very same day 105 years ago. 3-D would be nice.


"Let's do launch"


LAUNCH OF A NEW STEAMER. -- The new Gilchrist Transportation Company steamer FRANK J. HECKER, building at the St. Clair yards of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, will be launched tomorrow, and a number of prominent marine men will be on hand to witness it. She will be fitted out as soon as possible.

Buffalo Evening News
Friday, September 1, 1905

FRANK J. HECKER, U. S. 202475, bulk carrier. Renamed PERSEUS 1913, foundered about 90 miles NNW of Fayal, Atlantic Ocean, after breaking away from the tug ENGLISHMAN while in tow for scrapping at Genoa, Italy; September 21, 1961.

Record of Great Lakes Engineering Works, St. Clair (Michigan) Yard

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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