Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 18, 1935 -- The End of an Era

December 18, 1935 – Three side-wheel lake steamers, former “floating palaces,” that originally cost more than $700,000 are sold at a federal auction.  Highest bidder is the Woodmere Scrap and Metal Company of Detroit.  It will remove the engines from the liners and convert the remaining hulls into barges, effectively ending the careers of the “City” ships of the Goodrich Transit Company – the City of Holland, the City of Benton Harbor and the City of St. Joseph.  Although the plan is to save the City of Saugatauk she, too, will end up as a barge carrying pulpwood and petroleum products.  With the sale an era ends on Lake Michigan.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “Michigan’s fast fruit industry was responsible for the former prosperity of the passenger line.  Old residents recall seeing the ‘city’ boats jammed with passengers and with fruit piled high on the decks, steaming out from the lake ports.  The big paddle wheels leaving mountains of foaming water behind the trim liners added much to the spectacle.  It was a rich trade until the development of motor trucks as freight carriers after the world war.  In five years the lake fruit service was a memory.  Passenger trade alone would not support these luxury liners, so they were tied up in the St. Joseph ship canal.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 19, 1935]   The photo above shows the City of Saugatauk early in her life when she carried the name City of Alpina.

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