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.
Vintage photos of:
Circa 1899. "Sidewheeler City of Alpena." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.
The CITY OF ALPENA, launched from the Detroit Dry Dock Co. in Wyandotte in 1893, was one of several elegant paddlewheel steamboats operated by the Detroit & Cleveland Line out of Detroit. The line dated to 1849 and eventually included 10 large vessels, serving ports all over Lake Erie and Lake Huron.
The impressive CITY OF ALPENA and sister ship CITY OF MACKINAC were 285 feet long and driven by 2,000-horsepower steam engines. They carried as many as 400 passengers along with significant cargoes of package freight, merchandise and foodstuffs. They provided a critical link to big cities like Toledo, Detroit and Saginaw in the years before completion of railroads and highways to the communities of booming Northeast Michigan.
The CITY OF ALPENA was taken off the "Coast Line to Mackinac" in 1921 when the lumbering industry had moved to the West Coast and railroads connected most of the towns in the region. She operated afterward on Lake Michigan as the CITY OF SAUGATUCK, and ended up in the late 1930s as a barge, carrying pulpwood and later petroleum products. The once-proud ship was broken up for scrap in 1957.-- C. Patrick Labadie, Historian
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Mobile, Alabama. "River packet Jas. T. Staples." Sternwheeler steamboat (known as "Big Jim") launched at Mobile in 1908; plied the Tombigbee River between Demopolis and Mobile; destroyed in a boiler explosion at Powes Landing in 1913 at a cost of 26 lives, one week after its owner had killed himself with a shotgun. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.