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Shenango of Fairport: 1909

Shenango of Fairport: 1909

Ecorse, Michigan, circa 1909. "Freighter Shenango on the ways." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Shipwrights we

It took me forever to count all the people in this one. Mr. Gangplank was obvious, but I see at least a dozen others.

How Did They Do It?

The collective historical knowledge of Shorpies never ceases to amaze me.

Okay, so the rudder wasn't fitted until after launch, but then how did they do it? With the ship in the water, fitting a big old rudder on her stern would present quite an engineering challenge.

[They did it by putting the rudder on before the launch. - Dave]

Prop Madness

This propeller looks to be made of steel not bronze. Each blade is attached to the hub separately and has a hole near the tip possible for a shackle. This makes it easer to change an ice damaged blade by the crew instead of being towed to a shipyard. My instructors would tell stories of changing the prop at dockside and having to carry any moveable object forward in order to get the stern high enough out of the water to get to the propeller nut.

Fairport serendipity

Interesting to see the side launch ways - would the ship be launched using hydraulic rams? The "Great Eastern" which was the largest ship in the world at the time (1850s) was launched into the Thames this way, but needed three or four attempts.

I was highly amused to see this lovely photo posted in mid August, as I have just attended the annual 3 day Fairport Shenango (or at least, shindig) in Cropredy near Oxford in the UK. This is a big music festival started by the band Fairport Convention, who named themselves after the North London house belonging to the father of a founder member. Cropredy village should really twin with Fairport Harbor!

Side Launching

The hydrodynamic loading in a side launch is huge. It is likely the rudder was routinely left ashore until after the big event or it would be damaged. In stern-first launchings (more common on the ocean coasts) rudders were often fixed in position with temporary reinforcement to help them survive the still-substantial impact with the water. There is a picture of this in the recent book "Live Yankees" by W. H. Bunting.

Great pic

Love this image, I used to work in a historical photo library refiling in their 200,000 print file print collection and this image is the exactly the sort of image that used and still does catch my eye. It has it all, fascinating.

Up or under?

I'd take the scaffolding rather than be under the ship on the port side any day of the week!

A Familiar Hull

Some of the straight decked bulk freighters from this period have remained in service until the present day, since the freshwater of the Great Lakes is a lot easier on steel hulls than saltwater. The E M Ford, launched in 1898, was just decommissioned and scrapped in 2008. The Willis B. Boyer, formerly the Col. Schoonmaker, is moored at Toledo as a museum ship. It was launched in 1911, and taken out of service in 1980. The Boyer was also a product of the yards at Ecorse Michigan, and has a remarkably similar stern.


Apparently it was renamed five times and finally rested-in-peace in 1984.

Fearless duo

If I were one of these two guys, I'd be afraid to clear my throat!

Fearless duo

If I were one of the two guys standing there, I'd be afraid to cough!

What year

did the catastrophic scaffold collapse happen?

Is it the angle?

From this view, the ship looks like it's missing a rudder!

[That's because there's no rudder! - Dave]

That scaffolding is wild!`

No way you would catch ME up there!

Ready to launch

From the Buffalo Evening News, May 1, 1909.

The largest freighter on the lakes was scheduled for launching today at the Ecorse yards of the Great Lakes Engineering Works. It is the SHENANGO for the Shenango Steamship Company, a 607-footer. The new boat has a beam of 58 feet and a depth of 32 feet. Her cost completed will be $475,000. Capt. Henry Peterson will bring out the SHENANGO in June.

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