Sunday, December 21, 2008

Henry Pratt's Memories XXIII

MORE ABOUT BOATS  (What are called ships on the ocean are called boats on the Great Lakes).
"The typical lake boat of the day was 200-300 feet long and displaced about 1,500 tons. Many were propelled by paddle wheels at the sides. The engines were one huge cylinder in an upright position. The connecting rod ran up through the center of the boat to one end of a "walking beam". From the other end of the beam another connecting rod ran down to a huge crank on the paddlewheel shaft which ran across the boat. The walking beam was at the very top of the boat and could be seen rocking whenever the boat was in motion. Sidewheel boats were in favor then because of the relatively shallow. small harbors. One wheel could be stopped with the other turning making it much easier to manuver the boat. Sidewheelers have all disappeared, however, probably none being built since 1910 or earlier".
The lake boats were primarily built for passengers, but the lower deck would be stacked to the ceilings with fruit in season. They were marvels of naval archiecture. The larger ones--about 250 feet long were built with lavish use of mahogany and highly polished brass in an attempt to justify the use of ' Palatial' in the advertisements".
"My first crossing of the lake was aboard the Graham and Morton steamer 'City of Chicago', about 1908.  It was an impressive experience for a child, and for that matter most adults. Crossings were usualy begun at 11:00 P.M. to accomodate the arriving loads of fruit. The docks then were in Benton Harbor and the boat was towed by a tug through the canal about a mile to the St. Joseph harbor. As you left the piers and started out into the dark waters of the lake you got the impression of beginning a long voyage, not one of a mere 60 miles. After staying up to  watch the boat leave the harbor we went to our stateroom. Upon awakening we found the boat docked at the foot of Wabash Avenue (no bridge there then) and were in the very heart of Chicago".
Next: The Titanic and the Eastland
(July 27)

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