Great Lakes - Lakes Carriers Bulletin

kewl dude
4th November 2010, 21:35
Periodically during the shipping season The Lakes Carriers Association based in Cleveland Ohio produced these Bulletins. This issues lead article is the demise of the Shenango Furnace Company, where my Dad was employed 1940-1968. LCA sent enough Bulletins to each ship, so everyone on board would get a copy, with spares to be handed out to whomever.

Friday October 29 I emailed the Lake Carriers Association at the address given on their website asking if this paper Bulletin is still produced. As of 1300 Thursday November 4 I have not received a reply.

I attach a picture Wiper me took of my 12-4 watch engineer 2/E Herman “Bing” Miller, November 1961 working the Bulletin crossword puzzle, on the T2 conversion Leon Falk Jr ex Cities Service Winter Hill.

See for my scans of the 1961 Leon Falk Jr christening brochure.

Up-bound light on Lake St.Clair we had just picked up the latest Bulletin at the Westcott Detroit Marine Post Office zip code 48222 launch that came alongside in the stream, without the Falk slowing down.


That is JW Westcott himself in the top left picture when he began his service early in the 1900’s. Note the line from the bow of his oar-propelled skiff towing him along with the ship. I got this picture online from the American Memories Collection at the US Library of Congress.

The 3 color pictures were taken by Neal Schultheiss, founder, May 12, 2001 providing post office services at the John J Boland engine room side port, in the stream passing Detroit. Note the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit Michigan and Windsor Ontario in the background of the lower right picture.

Although in my day the mail boat came alongside amidships and five gallon pails on a rope were used much as JW Westcott did when he began.

Greg Hayden

kewl dude
4th November 2010, 23:38
I see in that far left scan that Gary May got his 2/E license and Don Hogle his 1/E, the three of us got our Original 3/E licenses in the 1966 class.

Most Great Lakes bulk carrier hulls are painted iron ore brown while Shenango used Chicago and Northwestern Railroad green with orange boot topping. Shenango kept their cargo ships in yacht condition, employing extra crew whose only job was to clean. Snyder family owned, due to dramatically increased costs, the decision was made to go out of business; rather than lower their standards.

Shenango obtained positions for all employees who wanted one with other Great Lakes fleets. My Dad went C/E on a ship owned by recently deceased New York Yankee’s baseball team owner George Steinbrenner. Often truculent Steinbrenner was a micro-manager who demanded his ships Captains, Chief Engineers and Stewards telephone him collect immediately each time his ships tied up.

The poorly maintained ship my Dad was on – Steinbrenner did not like spending money on his ships. The Captain and Steward always dashed to a public phone, while my Dad refused. In his home-port of Duluth MN for only three hours, to load an iron ore cargo.

The Captain told my Dad that usually he was put on hold often for hours, before Steinbrenner would come to the phone, if at all. My Dad said if Steinbrenner did not like it, he knew what he could do about it. My Dad worked for Steinbrenner his final three Great Lakes seasons, 1969-1971.

I attach a collage of Shenango ship pictures. The top left picture is a Kinko’s scan of the 14 inches high x 56 inches wide front and back covers of a 28 page publication dated 1954 printed on heavy card stock titled This is Shenango! The ship is the 1912 built William P Snyder Jr. After it was converted from a 2500 HP quad triple and scotch boilers to stoker fired D-type boilers with the largest Skinner Uniflow reciprocating steam engine ever built, six cylinders 6,000 HP.

Shenango upgraded their whole fleet the winter of 1951-52. The Schoonmaker and Shenango converted to oil but since Shenango had a long term coal fuel contract with North Western - Hanna Fuel Company, the Snyder Jr remained a coal burner.

Shenango had a fine reputation and got along well with the folks at Hanna who were friends. Hanna said they could cancel the coal contract with no animosity on Hanna's part. But this was the way Shenango was, they made a deal and stuck with it.

The spar decks were modernized replacing 36 telescoping hatch covers – that needed tarps in inclement weather for water-tightness – with 18 raised coaming hatches with one piece steel covers. An electric motor driven hatch crane, that nearly spanned the beam ran on railroad tracks to handle the hatch covers. The Schoonmaker and Shenango got oil fired D-type boilers with GE 5,000 HP and 4,000 HP geared turbines respectively. My Dad was Owners Representative for the Snyder conversion.

The pilot house was modernized with their first radars and ship to shore voice radio communication through Lorain Marine Radio. Of course the passengers lounge right below the pilot house was refurbished as were the passenger quarters, Captains Office and bedroom and deck officers quarters on the next three decks down. Before the conversion the passenger quarters were all shiny polished brass and dark stained wood paneled bulkheads, even a wood burning fireplace in the passengers comfortable library.

The forward passengers service pantry was all a one piece soldered aeamless copper - the deck, counters, sinks, refrigerator; linen, china and flat ware drawers and cabinets, bulkheads and overhead were all essentially one piece copper. Passenger meals were served aft in their own dining room located on the starboard stern corner of the spar deck cabin while the officers dining room was opposite on the port corner.

The brass and copper was retained but all the dark paneling was painted a cream color, which I never thought looked as rich as the original.

Whenever a Shenango ship neared port, which was pretty much every other day or so, the passenger porter snapped down cream color canvas with shiny copper grommets and those twist thingees used to secure it permanently attached to the deck, as protection from tracking iron ore in, over the deeply cushioned rich carpet used in the passengers quarters corridors. Removing and cleaning it before folding it away to be used again, as soon as the decks were hosed clean and allowed to dry.

When I grew up on Shenango, after I was six and could spend weeks at a time on board without my Mom being aboard too, summers when school was out. The ornate 1905 Owners Quarters were reserved for officers kids. The whole head was ceramic tile with original shower valves and piping, dark paneling and shiny brass and deeply carpeted of course and what was called a 3/4 bed, about the same as a modern day queen.

Rarely did the owners take a trip and use it. I seemed to be the only kid interested. Oh, occasionally another did. One skippers son was great for getting me into trouble. He was so surprised that it was NOT okay to shoot sea gulls with his air rifle off the top of the pilot house. Luckily I had more good sense that time and was not with him, or perhaps it was the memories of all the time with him I got in trouble. Left on my own I never got in trouble.

I loved fog since I would stand in the pilot house all day blowing the whistle. Great Lakes fog signal is 3 short blasts every minute. In those days it was the mate who had to stand near the whistle lever and manually move it three times every minute. It was so much fun when I could see the whistle on the stack back aft. I move this lever up here and steam comes out of the three tuned chime whistles followed by their short melodious tones.

Mates would have my meals brought to the pilot house so I could continue blowing the whistle. I also sometimes worked with deck hands painting or soogying. Paint engine room decks. Like that, fun stuff.

The Shenango passenger porter was an older black man named Frank. Frank treated me like a regular person. I mean he did not treat me like a kid. Frank and I had a lot of conversations about just about everything including his skin color. When I asked Frank why his skin was so dark he said "I was born this way, just like you were born white. Did anyone give you a choice? Did anyone ask you before you were born what color you wanted to be?" And when I said no, Frank said "me neither, besides the color of my skin there is not a single thing different from a black man or a white man. But there are people who want to make you think there is. You are a good boy I think you know there is not too?" "Yup." I worked a lot with Frank, polishing brass and helping with the canvas carpet covers every other day. This was before the Great Lakes were unionized. After the Union came in I could not do much of anything on board except eat the Ships Baker's his first name was Bunch -- a towering very muscular fun loving always laughing in his really deep voice jovial black man -- chocolate chip cookies and gain weight.

This is Shenango! is illustrated throughout with pencil sketches of individuals, watercolor and oil paintings commissioned for this publication. Besides The Shenango Furnace Company Great Lakes fleet the Snyder family owned W.P. Snyder & Company, which owned Snyder Mining Company, Minnesota and Michigan iron ore mines. Two blast furnaces and a rolling mill in Buffalo, New York and Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. The Sharpsville Shenango Penn Mold Company produced crucibles and ingot-molds sold to the steel production industry.

You think I have a good memory? Well, I do, but this was easy since I have my Dad’s copy of This is Shenango! on my lap.

Top right this undated picture of the 1911 built Col James M. Schoonmaker locking down with a cargo through the Sault Sainte Marie ship canal, Soo Michigan for short.

The youngest US Army colonel at age 19 at the beginning of the US Civil War Col Schoonmaker later was the youngest soldier ever at age 21 to be awarded the US Medal of Honor for valor on the battle field. Col Schoonmaker was a friend of William P Snyder and an investor in Mr. Snyder’s businesses.

Today the Schoonmaker is the museum ship Willis B. Boyer in Toledo Ohio:

There is a move afoot in Toledo to dry dock the ship in 2011 and repaint and rename her in Shenango colors, there is an oil painting on the index page of what they hope the Schoonmaker will look like next year.

Lower left is the Shenango House Flag. Lower right the Shenango after conversion leaving our hometown of Duluth Minnesota loaded with an iron ore cargo. See how nice she looks. An hour before this picture was taken the Shenango left the DM & IR ore dock in West Duluth, with spilled and tracked iron ore on her cabins, decks and hull.

As soon as they were out in the stream for the ¾ hour trip to the Duluth Ship Canal, eight men began washing down from the top of the pilot house forward and the top of the dog house aft working towards each other on both sides until meeting amidships. The doghouse was added to all three ships when they were converted.

By the time Shenango reached the Duluth Piers she again looked like a yacht. When ships enter and depart Duluth there often are a lot of locals and tourists watching.

See: Duluth Piers webcam

During the conversion the port side galley and galley crew quarters were dramatically enlarged. Using space previously occupied by snug unlicensed engine room crew cabins; and modernized with all new stainless steel equipment and a Terrazzo deck. Engine officers quarters on the starboard side were enlarged, the engine unlicensed crew moved topside to the new dog house.

Greg Hayden

kewl dude
4th November 2010, 23:50
I woulda swore I had the pictures attached? Usually I attach the pictures first.

Greg Hayden

Don Matheson
6th November 2010, 15:08
Greg what a wonderful post. I have a great intrest in the Lakes despite never having been there. It must have been a fantastic series of summers out there on the Lakes, even if you had to blow the whistle just to get your meals. Super.