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Featured Lake Boat:


W. E. Fitzgerald 1906 - 1971

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Built by Detroit Ship Building Co., Wyandotte, MI as Hull #167. Launched on September 8, 1906 for Chicago Navigation Co., Chicago. Dimensions: 440' 00" loa x 52' 00" beam x 28' 00" depth; 4,940 GRT, 3,701 NRT. Powered by a 1,467 ihp triple expansion steam engine. Entered service in October, 1906.

Caught in heavy seas after departing Port Arthur, ON on December 14, 1926 suffering damage to her frames and hull plating. Repairs were made to many hull plates and 25,000 rivets were replaced in Superior. The W. E. FITZGERALD was converted to a scraper type self unloader by Boom Electric Welding Co., Cleveland in 1928. Ran aground in Livingstone Channel, Detroit River on Nov. 25, 1930. Became stuck in the mud on the Saginaw River on Aug. 28, 1931.

Sold to Gartland Steamship Co., Chicago in 1932. Later that year she became the first U.S. self unloader to use the Welland Canal (4th Canal). Struck the Lake St. Bridge in Chicago tearing a hole in the bow and broke the forward mast in 1939. The W. E. FITZGERALD struck the Lake St. Bridge agian when the east span failed to open. Only a walkway on the bridge was damaged. April 29, 1952, the north span of the Q.E.W. bascule bridge failed to lift while the FITZGERALD was inbound loaded with sand. The FITZGERALD was not able to stop in time with both anchors dragging and the engine in full reverse, knocking the span into the channel. The only damage the FITZGERALD received was a broken steering pole and paint damage. Over winter lay up in 1967-68, a bow thruster was installed.

Sold to American Steamship Co. in early 1969 but never entered service for them. Remained laid up until October 1971 when the tugs HERBERT A. and G. W. ROGERS towed her to Ramey's Bend. The tow arrived October 21, 1971 and scrapped over the winter.

 

W. E. Fitzgerald 1906 to 1932
(Chicago Navigation Co.)

W. E. Fitzgerald waiting on the ways for launching, September 8, 1906
(Detroit Publishing Co., Library of Congress collection)

Stern view, September 8, 1906
(Detroit Publishing Co., Library of Congress collection)

W. E. Fitzgerald sliding into the water, September 8, 1906
(Detroit Publishing Co., Library of Congress collection)

Waiting for the tugs to take her out of the slip, September 8, 1906
(Detroit Publishing Co., Library of Congress collection)

A postcard of the W. E. Fitzgerald early in her carier.
(Photo by Louis Pesha from the William Carmen collection courtesy of Paul C. LaMarre III)

A postcard view of the Fitzgerald downbound the Soo with a heavy covering of ice.
(Roger LeLievre collection)

Using the same view and changing the caption is common practice with postcards.
(Matt Miner collection)

The same view used as a Canadian postcard.
(Matt Miner collection)

W. E. Fitzgerald 1932 to 1969
(Gartland Steamship Co.)

Getting ready to unload in Toronto, 1930's
(Photo by Alfred King, Ron Beaupre collection)

Tied up after striking the Lake St. Bridge in Chicago, 1939
(Thomas Manse collection)

Under tow passing through the Randolph St. Bridge after striking the Lake St. Bridge.
(William Lafferty collection)

Unloading in Toronto, July 3, 1951
(Photo by Alfred King, Ron Beaupre collection)

Unloading in the Cherry St. Basin, Toronto, July 1951
(Ron Beaupre collection)

Article from the Hamilton Spectator about the FITZGERALD hitting the Q.E.W. bascule bridge, April 30, 1952
(Ivan Brookes scrapbooks, Ron Beaupre collection)

Pictures of the aftermath, Hamilton Spectator, April 30, 1952
(Ivan Brookes scrapbooks, Ron Beaupre collection)

View of the FITZGERALD backing away from the bridge, Toronto Globe & Mail, April 30, 1952
(Ivan Brookes scrapbooks, Ron Beaupre collection)

Unloading stone at Manitowoc Portland Cement Company in the of Summer 1954.
(Photo by Dick Sheehy)

Loaded in Muskegon Lake.
(Matt Miner collection)

An undated shot underway
(Ron Beaupre collection)

Passing through a bridge on the Chicago River, 1958-59. Note the S on the pilot house bulwarks, and the missing port anchor.
(Steve Haverty collection)

Unknown location.
(Photo by Jon Paul)

Downbound and loaded at Port Huron, June 6, 1958
(Fr. Peter Vanderlinden photo, Paul LaMarre III collection)

Ready to be raised in Lock 4 looking down from Lock 5. New
(Photo by George Mackay, John Mackay collection)

Upbound and running light at Mission Pt.
(Photo by Thomas Manse, Roger LeLievre collection)

Loading coal at Rail-to-Water Transfer, now KCBX on the Calumet River.
(Photo by William Lafferty)

Passing Mission Pt. downbound.
(Photo by Thomas Manse, Roger LeLievre collection)

Upbound in the St. Clair River, October 1964
(Photo by John G. Mackay)

Entering Port Weller piers upbound, July 9, 1966
(Photo by Jim Kidd, Ron Beaupre collection)

Making the dock in Port Weller below Lock 1, Oct. 23, 1966
(Ron Beaupre collection)

An aerial photo of Manitowoc Shipbuilding, May 1968.
The W. E. Fitzgerald in the center with the Medusa Challenger, sandsucker America, and the tanker Taurus along the bottom.
(Photo by Dick Sheehy)

Certificate of Discharge.
(Mike Blatchford)

1966 trip summaries.
(Compiled by Bill Bruce & Skip Gillham)

W. E. Fitzgerald 1969 to 1971
(American Steamship Co.)

Along side the Henry R. Platt Jr. a couple weeks after arriving at Rameys Bend, Nov. 1971
(Photo by Jim Kidd, Ron Beaupre collection)

G. G. Post in place of the Platt next to the Fitzgerald, May 1972
(Photo by Jim Kidd, Ron Beaupre collection)

Cutting just begining on the bow of the Fitzgerald, May 1972
(Photo by Jim Kidd, Ron Beaupre collection)

Very little of the stern left next to the Post and the Thoro has been added to the line up, May 1972
(Photo by Jim Kidd, Ron Beaupre collection)

 

Masters and Chief Engineers of the W. E. Fitzgerald
(Courtesy of Russ Plumb)
Masters Chief Engineers
Unknown 1906
Alex C. Callam 1907 - 08
Unknown 1909
Alex C. Callam 1910 - 20
John D. Wanvig 1921
Elmer O. Weborg 1922 - 27
W. S. MacQueen 1928 - 43
Albert LaBlanc 1944 - 53
Henry M. Murray 1954 - 55
Christ Hanson 1956 - 59
Paul E. Hjerpe 1960 - 64
James Gallagher 1965 - 68
Unknown 1906
Theodore A. Myers 1907 - 08
Unknown 1909
Harvey D. Wood 1910 - 12
George W. Trouton 1913 - 15
Unknown 1916
George W. Trouton 1917 - 21
James Linton 1922 - 28
Ray Langer 1929
Unknown 1930 - 34
Ray Langer 1935 - 45
John Rosenberg 1946 - 53
John K. Leahy 1954 - 55
Oscar Borten 1956 - 1964
Gaylord King 1965 - 68

 


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Last updated: May 8, 2013.

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