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Pere Marquette: 1910

Pere Marquette: 1910

The Chicago River circa 1910. "Pere Marquette transfer boat 18 passing State Street bridge." Railcar ferry built in a record 90 days after its namesake sank in Lake Michigan. Detroit Publishing Company glass negative. View full size.


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The control house

seems to match that of the first PM 18:

vs PM 18 (II):

The vessel shown

is the first Pere Marquette 18 while chartered to the Chicago Navigation Company, taking summer excursionists to Waukegan, to clarify my earlier post. The second Pere Marquette 18 remained exclusively in the rail trade between Ludington and Wisconsin ports its entire career.

[Why do we think this is the first Pere Marquette? - Dave]

An Excursion?

Seems to be a significant number of the fairer sex aboard, and the ship seems to be riding very high in the water, so I don't think it has a load on. The ship was launched December 20, and arrived in Ludington Michigan on January 30 - it sure doesn't look like mid winter in the picture - perhaps a spring or summer excursion for railroad employees? There's even a bass drum on board, right above the 'P' in the ship's name.

[Midwinter would be February. December 20 is (barely) fall. But yes, it was chilly -- the high was 32, so this is probably not launch day. It may not even be launch year. - Dave]

T T Morford

The TT Morford was a tugboat with an interesting history:

The tugboat T.T. MORFORD was built in 1884 at Chicago and served the area faithfully until 26 October 1895, when her boiler exploded. She was rebuilt and went back into service adding another strange twist to history, for it was this same tugboat that 14 years later would rescue 20 or more people from Chicago's 68th Street Water Crib Fire. A fire which killed 60 men in January of 1909.

PM18 (II)

Launched December 20, 1910, in Chicago. More here.

Father Marquette

The first Pere Marquette 18 was built 1902 at Cleveland by the American Ship Building Company. During the summers of 1909 and 1910 the Pere Marquette Railway chartered this vessel to a group from Grand Haven, Michigan, known as the Chicago Navigation Company and who placed her in the excursion trade between Chicago and Waukegan. A rail ferry that ran across Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to points in Wisconsin, her car deck was used as a dance floor and rumored to also house gambling operations. Returning to Ludington after Labor Day, she re-entered service September 8, 1910, sailing late that night to Milwaukee with twenty-nine rail cars aboard. At 3 AM she began taking on water which the pumps could not handle. At around 4 PM her captain sent out a CQD (forerunner of the SOS) distress message by wireless, attracting the vessel's near-sister, the Pere Marquette 17, which attempted to maneuver close enough to the stricken Pere Marquette 18 to remove passengers and crew. Suddenly, a little after 7 AM, her stern plunged beneath the water and she went straight down in a matter of seconds, it estimated twenty-seven to twenty-nine lives lost.

The Pere Marquette ordered a replacement immediately. Incredibly, the second Pere Marquette 18 was launched at the South Chicago yard of the American Ship Building Company on December 20, 1910, and entered service the next month. Removed from service 1954, as a little kid I recall her sitting forlornly on Pere Marquette Lake at Ludington until she was towed to Hamilton, Ontario, in 1957 for scrapping.

The tug T. T. Morford shown was built 1884 by the Miller Brothers at Chicago, and her design proved so successful that she became the model upon which almost every subsequent Chicago harbor tug would be built.

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