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Chief Wawatam 1911 - 2009

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Frank Crevier Photo Album page 1 | 2


Designed by Frank Kirby and built by Toledo Ship Building Co. of Toledo, OH in 1911, hull # 119. Launched as CHIEF WAWATAM for Mackinac Transportation Co. of St. Ignace, MI for use as a railroad ferry link crossing the Straits of Mackinac. Keel laid on June 1, 1911, launched on August 26, 1911, sailed on maiden voyage October 16, 1911 and arrived at St. Ignace, MI for the first time on October 18, 1911. Dimensions: 351' 00" loa x 62' 00" beam x 20' 06" depth; 2,990 GRT, 1,793 NRT. Cargo capacity: 22 railcars with a combined weight of up to 2,990 tons. Power: 3 triple expansion engines for a total of 4,500 hp. The CHIEF WAWATAM had one propeller forward for ice breaking and 2 propellers aft.

On February 2, 1939 the CHIEF WAWATAM had the forward shaft and propeller replaced. Vessel was inactive in 1965 to have the boilers renovated by Manitowoc Ship Building of Manitowoc, WI. Sailed under her own power for the last time in August of 1984 and was laid up in Mackinaw City, MI till 1988. The CHIEF WAWATAM was the last "hand bomber", hand fed coal burning boiler ship, to operate on the Great Lakes.

In 1989, she was sold to Purvis Marine Ltd. of Sault Ste. Marie, ON and was cut down to a non-powered deck barge that retained her name CHIEF WAWATAM. In 2009, her deck began to collapse and it was decided that it didn't make financial or economical sense to replace the deck and the hull was scrapped at the West Purvis Dock in Soo, ON.

In 2005 one of the triple expansion engines was restored to operating condition and placed on display at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, WI. Another was given to the city of St. Ignace and now is stored at the Mill Slip. The third is still owned by Purvis Marine.

 

Chief Wawatam 1911 - 1989
(Mackinac Transportation Co.)

Colorized postcard view of arrival from maiden voyage. October 18, 1911.
(From the John Belliveau collection)

Just arrived after her maiden voyage from the Toledo Shipbuilding Company, October 18, 1911.
(Stephen LaJoice Collection)

Loading railroad cars at mackinaw City, MI. Early postcard view from 1911.
(From the John Belliveau collection)

Colorized view under way.
(From the John Belliveau collection)

Vintage postcard view of Chief Wawatam plying the Straits of Mackinac.
(From the Roger LeLievre collection)

Postcard view.
(From the Roger LeLievre collection)

Postcard view of Sainte Marie II with Chief Wawatam at the right (From the Roger LeLievre collection)

Rare view of Chief Wawatam as seen from the pilot house of fleetmate Sainte Marie II.
(From the Roger LeLievre collection)

This is a photo of the Michigan troops on their way to Keweenaw, MI to diffuse a copper miner's strike in 1913.
(Photo postcard view by Clyde Johnson, Tom Hynes collection)

"Michigan Troops Crossing Strait's Of Mackinac For The Copperfields".
(Photo by Clyde Johnson of Mackinaw, MI - Courtesy of Loyal E. Suntken of Quest-Antiques-Books-Collectibles)

Reverse side of previous postcard view.
(Photo by Clyde Johnson of Mackinaw, MI - Courtesy of Loyal E. Suntken of Quest-Antiques-Books-Collectibles)

A close-up of the Chief Wawatam stuck in the ice in this 1926 postcard.
(From the William Forsythe collection)

"Loading trains on railway ferry Chief Wawatam, Mackinaw City, MI".
(Photo by Clyde Johnson, Martin Bliss collection)

Colorized postcard view of previous image.
(From the Violet Bostwick collection)

Chief Wawatam bucks the ice in midwinter.
(From the William Forsythe collection)

Chief Wawatam is stuck in the ice on its usual run in wintertime.
(From the William Forsythe collection)

The Saint Marie II comes to the Wawatam's rescue.
(From the William Forsythe collection)

"Ice blockade in the Straits" March 17, 1939.
(Photo by Raymond B. Desy, Martin Bliss collection)

Fleet mates Chief Wawatam left and Sainte Marie right battling ice in the Straits March 17, 1939.
(Photo by Raymond B. Desy, Roger LeLievre collection)

Another view of fleet mates Chief Wawatam left and Sainte Marie right battling ice in the Straits March 17, 1939.
(Photo by Raymond B. Desy courtesy of John Belliveau)

"Fast in the Ice" Postcard view.
(From the Tom Hynes collection)

In the ice.
(From the Roger LeLievre collection)

Stern view in the ice along with freighters in the Straits.
(From the Roger LeLievre collection)

Stern view in the ice.
(From the Martin Bliss collection)

Port side view.
(From the Martin Bliss collection)

At St. Ignace, MI dock.
(From the Roger LeLievre collection)

Postcard view.
(From the Martin Bliss collection)

"Where rail and water meet, St. Ignace, MI".
(Photo by Clyde Johnson, Martin Bliss collection)

A small steam locomotive works freight cars at the bow.
(From the Ron Beaupre collection)

The South Shore passenger train arrives at the Chief Wawatam's dock.
(From the Ron Beaupre collection)

At dock ready to load 1960.
(Photo by Dave Glick, Rich Weiss collection)

At dock in St Ignace, MI August 9, 1963.
(From the Leo Wilhelm collection)

Deck view looking forward. May 16, 1964.
(Photo by Jack Goodrich, Rich Weiss collection)

Deck view looking aft. May 16, 1964.
(Photo by Jack Goodrich, Rich Weiss collection)

At dock in 1964.
(Photo by Dave Glick, the Rich Weiss collection)

At dock in 1964.
(Photo by Dave Glick, the Rich Weiss collection)

Trail of smoke while underway.
(Photo by Roger LeLievre)

Backing away from dock.
(From the Roger LeLievre collection)

Chief Wawatam (L) and Sainte Marie II (R), May 1958.
(From the Martin Bliss collection)

At Mackinaw City July 1967. In the background is the S.S. Straits Of Mackinac when she had a red stack under management of Straits Transit.
(From the Marc Vander Meulen collection)

Approaching the dock February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Lining up with the dock February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Moving in to dock February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Loading pulpwood train cars February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

 Looking over the side at the ice breaking action February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Looking aft down the starboard side at the ice breaking action February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)



Waterline & full hull scale drawings depicting appearance from circa 1924.
(Drawings by John Belliveau)

Pilot House, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

View of interior stairway to Pilot House, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

View of Passenger Deck passageway, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Engine Room, July 1968.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Engine Room, July 1968.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Engine Room, July 1968.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Steering gear, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Engine Room gauges, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Fireman Doug Litzner feeding the boilers, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Loading operation as seen from the Pilot House.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Looking forward at aft side of superstructure on passenger deck, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Looking aft along the port side, February 1969.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Postcard view.
(From the Martin Bliss collection)

Arriving at dock (Photo by Martin Bliss)

Sequence showing the "Chief" arriving, February 1971.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

February 1971.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

February 1971.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

February 1971.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Sequence showing a departure, October 1972.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Steering to starboard.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Stern view.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Underway on another crossing.
Photo by Martin Bliss)

Loading train cars, October 1972.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

Backing away from dock, October 1972.
(Photo by Martin Bliss)

 

 

Audio of the ship
Click on the tape to listen.

The Chief blowing a 3 long 2 short salute. Unfortunately the first blast was missed. May 16, 1980
(Provided by Lynn Miner)

     

 

Masters and Chief Engineers of the Chief Wawatam
(Courtesy of Russ Plumb)
Masters Chief Engineers
William P. Robertson 1911
Robert McDowell 1911
A. H. Boynton 1912
G. W. Boynton 1912
A. H. Boynton 1913
G. W. Boynton 1913
William P. Robertson 1914 - 23
John A. Shufflebeam 1924 - 34
Gerald A. Shufflebeam 1935 - 38
Charles H. Brown 1938
Alexander Tromblay 1939
Charles H. Brown 1939 - 44
Melvin J. Bishop 1945 - 63
C. J. Closs 1964 - 68
Robert E. Tamlyn 1968 - 70
Thomas A. Jewell 1970 - 74
Roderick Graham 1975 - 83
Eugene McLean 1984
Richard Walsh 1911 - 12
Joseph H. Taylor 1913 - 21
Sam Backie 1922
Joseph H. Taylor 1922 - 26
John T. Goulding 1927 - 34
B. E. France 1934 - 37
Leo W. Specht 1938 - 39
Harry Cheeseman 1939
Leo W. Specht 1940 - 41
Harry Cheeseman 1942 - 43
Peter R. Jonas 1944
Harry Cheeseman 1944 - 48
Ivo C. Coveyou 1949 - 59
Clayton B. Cheeseman 1960 - 68
Douglas W. Bynorth 1969 - 73
Robert E. Bentgen 1974
Robert T. Tamlyn 1975 - 79
Arnold Specht 1980 - 82
George Patzer 1983 - 84

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Frank Crevier Photo Album page 1 | 2

 
Further information about the Chief Wawatam can be found at:
Chief Wawatam web page
The Carferries of the Great Lakes - Website by Max Hanley with a written history of the Chief Wawatam by Bob Strauss

 


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Last updated: November 28, 2011.

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