The Louis G. Harriman was launched as the John W. Boardman in 1923. The Boardman was the first Great Lakes vessel built as a true cement carrier. It proved to be a success, so much so that its "big brother", the S. T. Crapo was launched in 1927. National Gypsum took over the operation of the Huron Transportation Co. in 1965 and changed the vessel name to Louis G. Harriman. As larger boats were added to the Huron fleet the Harriman saw less and less use. In its "golden years" the Harriman did provide a useful contribution to Huron, and later LaFarge, as a storage facility and shuttle barge.
As the keeper of the last log book of the Louis Harriman I thought it would be interesting to share some of the entries. The log starts midway through the 1973 season and ends with the last entry in April, 1980.
A log book is the daily record of a ship. Entries consist of mostly mundane things like course settings, weather conditions, draft marks. Entries are based on the time the entry was noted. Items out of the ordinary are usually noted in the far right column of the log. This is what makes for interesting reading. As an
example, notations were made for delays encountered by the Harriman by various boats in their way. Most of the boats noted in the Harriman log book are now scrapped. There are also many entries referring to engine and boiler problems that plagued the Harriman in it's later years.
1973 was a full year for the Harriman with a total of 45 trips. The majority of the 24 runs listing in this log book were to Green Bay with 21. Only one trip to St. Joe and two trips to Saginaw broke up the boredom of the Green Bay runs. During trip #36 (Oct. 24-30, 1973) the Harriman rolled heavily off Round Island due to heavy seas off Martin Reef Light. Winds were up to 58 MPH. The Harriman anchored for 24 hours near Detour Reef Light. They laid up in Green Bay, WI on Dec. 12, 1974.
1974 was a short season for the Harriman with only 9 trips. They fit out and departed Green Bay on May 11 and went back into lay up in Alpena May 16. Interestingly on Aug. 17 the Harriman shifted to the outer harbor in Alpena under its own power to wait for the Harry Allen to finish loading clinkers. On Aug. 18 they returned to the west dock for lay up. Trip #2 did not take place until Sept. 14 when the Harriman loaded for Saginaw. On trip #6 they lost steam pressure various times. Trip #8 also had steam pressure problems. The Harriman arrived in Green Bay Oct. 14, 1974 for winter lay up.
1975 saw the Harriman used for cement storage from April to Nov. in Erie, PA. Huron Cement was considering building a terminal in Erie. The Harriman was positioned at the dock so trucks could be loaded directly from the boat. They departed Green Bay on April 23 for Alpena. On April 29 at 1530 the Harriman arrived in Erie, PA. Apparently business wasn't great enough to warrant the building of a permanent facility and on Nov. 5 the Harriman departed for Alpena. The boilers lost steam pressure various times returning to Alpena. The Harriman departed Alpena for Green Bay and lay up on Nov. 8, 1975 On November 10 at 0704 the boat checked off Green Bay for wind gusts of 40-50 knots. The Harriman anchored off Green Bay to wait out the same storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The Harriman did not sail in 1976. On May 19 it was towed out of Green Bay "dead boat" by the Selvick tug Lauren Castle with an assist from the tug Green Bay. The Stephen Selvick assisted the Harriman into Sturgeon Bay. After a survey the same two tugs departed Bayship May 30 with the Harriman in tow bound for Superior, WI where the boat would be used for cement storage. They arrived in the Twin Ports June 1.
The Harriman spent 1977 as a storage vessel in Superior.
The 1978 season for the Harriman did not start until the Fourth of July when the forward end reported for fit out. The boat departed Superior July 5 at 1718 for Alpena. Engine trouble stopped the Harriman for repairs just 2 hours out of Superior. Total down time for the repairs was 3 hours. A broken feed water coil delayed their departure from Alpena July 8. On July 9 there was a total engine room failure for 15 minutes. The Harriman checked for 10 minutes July 29 due to a body in the water off Belle Isle. Again various notations were made concerning engine and boiler trouble. On Sept. 17 they had to return to Alpena to repair burners in the boiler room resulting in a 8 hour delay. The Harriman wintered in Detroit, arriving Dec. 15 for lay up. A total of 30 trips were logged in 1978; 14 to Detroit, 9 to Toledo and 7 to Saginaw.
1979 was a very busy year for the Harriman with 39 trips. Besides loading in Alpena, 4 loads were taken out of Clarkson and one out of Bath, Ont. Things got off to a bad start on the Harriman's first trip when on May 2 an eccentric broke on the intermediate cylinder of the main engine. The tugs Malcolm & Barbara Ann towed the Harriman to the Nicholson dock in Detroit for repairs. The Harriman finally reached Alpena on May 8 and went into lay up until June 7. Trip #5 from June 25 to July 4 took the Harriman from Alpena to Toledo/Buffalo to Clarkson to Cleveland and finally back to Alpena. Again more and more remarks are noted concerning engine and boiler problems. Trip #24 from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 must have been a nightmare for the Captain. On Sept. 30 a sick crewman was removed by the USCG off Bay City, MI. The very next day 3 crewman were discharged. One for insubordination and 2 for "intoxicants of unknown origin. They proceeded to make a deliberate mess of the crews card room and mates bathroom." The Harriman arrived in Green Bay Dec. 20 for winter lay up.
1980 was the last year the Harriman would raise steam, and it was only for one trip. The Bonnie Selvick assisted the Harriman away from their Green Bay lay up dock on April 18. At 0845 on April 20 while attempting to enter Alpena "the engine room was lost!" At 0910 "all rpm's were lost due to boiler failure." At 0920 the engine room was able to provide enough steam for half ahead-half astern.
The very last entry in the log book reads: "10:02 engine room reports ready shortly. Rubbed port side 6' under anchor box. 10:32 engine room reports ready with engine. 10:50 spotted west dock, str. J.B. Ford inside against dock. 11:00 inspected area that rubbed dock (no bumper on dock). 6' below port anchor box. No apparent damage. Signed Master."
1980 to 2003
The ongoing boiler problems and the downturn in the economy in the early 1980's proved to be the end of the Harriman as a self propelled vessel. The Harriman remained tied up in Alpena until the fall of 1987 when it was towed to Sturgeon Bay by Selvick Towing. Once there it was placed in the Bayship graving dock for bow repairs, as well as a general survey. Necessary repairs and improvements were made to the Harriman's unloading equipment for it's new lease on life as a storage facility and later, shuttle barge.
At first the Harriman was used for additional storage in Green Bay and Milwaukee By this time Huron Cement had been sold to the LaFarge Corp. LaFarge was not as sentimental about old steam boats as the past operators and quickly set out to make changes. The Leon Fraser was purchased, converted to a cement carrier and renamed Alpena.
The Milwaukee terminal had the disadvantage of being located up the winding Menomonee river and Burnam Canal. With the addition of the Alpena to the fleet the S.T. Crapo was downgraded to "spare boat" status. The Crapo, always the work horse of the Huron fleet, was the perennial first boat out of the season. The years of hard work, along with the now liability of being coal fired, meant the days were numbered for the Crapo.
The Crapo and E.M. Ford had always been the sole suppliers to the Milwaukee plant. With the addition of the Alpena a decision was made to build a new and much larger LaFarge facility on Milwaukee's Jones Island. Until this was up and running a way was still needed to feed the original Milwaukee LaFarge dock. In 1990 while laid up in Milwaukee, an external pusher notch was added to the stern of the Harriman. Selvick Towing was contracted to shift the Harriman between the LaFarge dock and the Port of Milwaukee's Heavy lift dock. The larger boats in the fleet could now enter Milwaukee at a deeper draft, lighter into the Harriman and then continue on the Waukegan, IL or South Chicago.
After the opening of the new facilities in Milwaukee in 1996 the Harriman was put up for sale. Blue Circle Cement in Green Bay was in need of additional storage and the Harriman was a perfect fit for them.
By 2000 the Harriman was no longer needed by Blue Circle and its exterior condition became a liability. The City of Green Bay was anxious to see it go away as the paint peeled and the rust spots grew larger and larger.
In the fall of 2003 the Harriman was sold for scrap and towed to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. A common. but certainly undignified end, for what was a state of the art vessel when it was launched in 1923.
Her forward cabins were purchased by Marc and Jill Vander Meulen to be relocated
as a summer cottage near DeTour Village, Mich. In November 2005 the forward
section was moved onto a barge and pushed down the St. Mary's River to