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Now and then I see something that intrigues me more than a routine amount.  This lighthouse looked to have been bombed.  It turns out . . . it had!  Waugoshance Light was used for bombing practice during WW2.  The light is at the west end of Wilderness State Park, home to wolves and bears.

Farther west is White Shoal Light.  At one time, lightships marked Grays Reef Passage.

Overtaking us was   . . .  name it?  . . .

John J. Boland. 

While Boland heads for the Soo, John D. Leitch headed west and then south.

Leitch is six years older than Boland, and although 50′ longer, she has the same capacity as Boland.




All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Long-time tugster readers know that fish tugs have been lavished with a generous amount of electronic ink over the years here.   You’d not be surprised then to read this title.   Although it’s hard to get a photo of Bob S exterior,

it’s owned by the Beaver Island Marine Museum, and that makes it easy to get inside.

Above the wheelhouse looking to starboard and below . . . to port.

The net hauler is mounted to starboard. Who knows how many pounds of fish have passed through here?

The power is provided by Kahlenberg Brothers.  

Enjoy the parts and



the advertising.  When Bob S worked, she looked like this.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


This photo I took from the Manitou Passage.  To the west, South Manitou Light is located on an island by the same name.  Sleeping Bear Dunes to the east.

The photo below is not very good, but it serves to hint at the the existence of a shipwreck.  SS Francisco Morazon ended her service on a sand bar just south of South Manitou Island during the winds of November 1960.

Beaver Island registered tug Wendy Anne was headed for the Manitou Islands, likely to do some shoreline reinforcement.  Wendy Ann was purchased in Boston, and delivered here via the Erie Canal and other waterways.

The Manitous have certainly made their way onto my list of places to visit soon. 

I believe this is North Manitou Shoal Light. 

Southbound along the Passage, it’s Karen Andrie pushing Endeavor.

Emerald Isle–the name a tip of the hat to the Irish who settled Beaver Island–is a 1997 Washburn & Doughty built RORO ferry. 

Once approaching the Beaver Island dock, I spotted some fish tugs.  The first was Ruby Ann, a 1945 Sturgeon Bay product that now needs a bit of TLC.


In the water nearby was Waabi-Maang, in Ojibwe White Loon. 

Odawa Research headed out of the bay.

Also along the shore were Resolute and

Angus, the latter being a 1939 product of Burger Boat.

I need some help here, since I know nothing about Elizabeth, other than that it seems to be an ST.

The classy 1950 Cisco is Sturgeon Bay built.

The green trap boat is a mystery to me also, here next to Bob S in the shed.  Bob S requires its own post.

Shamrock is a 1933 tug that may still tow oil barges, including

Tanker II and

Petroqueen.  Shamrock alludes to the Irish settlement on the island. 

All photos here by Will Van Dorp.


The photo below may seem an unlikely choice on tugster, especially as lead photo.  I post it here because this is where Urger in 1901 was designed, built, and launched at 300 Pine, on a finger of the Grand River and not far from Dornbos Island.  I mention that because Urger was initially called Henry J. Dornbos.

Another odd photo lies below, until you recall some posts almost two years ago . . . Mariners to Muskegon.  Here behind the chainlink,  Colleen and Katie G await matched barges.

Trieste used to be called Vegsund.

I was fooled here:  although the stern looked bald, I thought it was a laker

but wondered why the bridge windows were covered.

I was making no sense of the lines near the stern, until I remembered that this “laker” was a barge.  No stack existed because the power plant was removed and turned into a notch.  Her matched tug is Invincible;  see them paired in this post (and scroll). 

Sarah-B is a 1953 Roamer built tug, that went from USACE to a museum and back into service.

Is this a one-off?

And finally, I took a tour of this 1904 car ferry, now called Milwaukee Clipper, named like the PanAm flying boats. 

For the first decades of her existence, the Clipper was SS Juniata.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who needed to get back on the boat and continue the loop.

This lake is the entrance to Holland, MI, slightly less than 100 miles northeast of Chicago.  I know the vessel below is a repurposed USCG 40-footer, but I was drawn in so many directions that I didn’t get a photo of the name on the stern.  Here is more info on this vessel type, aka utility boat, large. 

I saw a large number of small tugs but have no information on them.



The next batch belong to D. K. Construction, but again . . . I know very little.

Haskal has appeared here before, and as a result, I know it is a former USACE vessel built in 1936. I’m curious about the twins above and below, which I’d call broncs, seen here and scroll.


The sheer number of small boats at the entrance to the small lake from Lake Michigan this recent afternoon attests to the popularity of recreational boating in this part of Michigan.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who’s impressed by the number of recreational boats passing Big Red. 


This starts a new series, drawing from a loop from Chicago to Chicago via Mackinac Island.

Clearly something was amiss when a Chicago police boat was blocking outbound traffic from Burnham Harbor.

By the way, the grassy “dunes” in the background cover what was once Meigs Field. 

Then a TowBoatUS vessel appeared on scene with a taut towline.


Someone’s journey was not going well.



The yacht, likely having lost power, was towed safely to a bulkhead.

And that day, other unfortunate boaters needed some assistance.  Maybe I should say fortunate boaters, because they have TowBoatUS memberships.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

This is the last Chicago-bound post . . . after all, I’ve arrived and even seen the city in the rearview mirror.  A large part of Chicago’s port, per se, is here in the Calumet River. 

Kimberly Selvick shows her versatility by gliding beneath the 95th Street bridge, stopping no traffic.  Not far away, I’m told, is Calumet Fisheries. 


AEP on the barge makes me think the cargo here is coal.


Who’d have thought that jungle on the bank grows in Chicago!?!




All photos by Will Van Dorp, who’d like to head into the system south and west but that’s for later, after I figure out how to do it. Thanks for following along on the Chicago-bound (CB) posts.  It’s time for a new series.


Let’s follow Calumet out of the Calumet.

There”s a turning circle farther up, so she was able to enter and leave bow first.

The draw bridge drawn up to the right . . . that’s what remains after the Pontokratis incident in 1988 that threatened to delay traffic all the way to the Mississippi, according to this article. 


This traffic shares the river with speedboats like the one in the foreground.


Here’s the last bridge–frozen up–before Lake Michigan.

Hmmm . . . “largest inland US container port . . .”  Here are the numbers.  About a century ago, this port was built to take  stevedores and longshoreman away from the urbanizing Chicago River.

The big red dot with the white center is what Calumet passes on her way out of the Calumet.

And at the mouth, you can see Chicago 20 miles away.

Looking east around the bottom of the lake, it’s the refinery and steel mills in Indiana.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Again, many thanks to Christine Douglas, let’s explore the Calumet River a bit more.  Actually, a lot more.  Let’s go back and see more of the GL yard.  From l to r here, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana.

Closest up is the oldest . . . Virginia, launched 1914, just two years younger than Grouper aka Alaska and Green Bay. Virginia was re-powered in 1921 and again in 1951.

Massachusetts dates from 1928.

After a few hours, she headed up the Calumet for a tow.

For a ninety-year-old machine making a profit, she was just beautiful.


Next under the 96th Street Bridge was Florida, 1926.

Note the orientation and shape of the aft bitt.

The bridge . . . Calumet River Norfolk Southern RR Bridges . . . dates from 1912.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.  Again, thanks to Christine for the tour.


The Calumet River exits from southeastern Chicago.  For Mississippi-bound watercraft, it also leads into the continent.  I was thrilled to follow it a bit thanks to Christine Douglas.  

Koolcat was the first tug we saw.  She was shuffling barges, as Amtrak passed above.

Among those barges was strong evidence that we were no longer in the east, in a whole new watershed.

The Calumet flows under the former-Calumet Skyway.  More info on her history to the present can be found here . . .   believe it or not she’s currently owned by a consortium of Canadian pension funds . . . yup.  But I digress.

Here was an interesting sight . . . a Hannah boat, and one that’s from the same WW2 yard as Bloxom.

Mary E. Hannah was hull #537;  Bloxom was #519, launched just over a year before Mary E. Hannah.   Interestingly, hull #538 was alive and well on the Columbia a few years ago here (scroll).

Going downstream from here, it’s a Great Lakes yard, which will be the focus in tomorrow’s post.

Louisiana is 101 years old and still ready to work.  I’m curious about the tug in front of Louisiana, but have nothing to report.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.  Again many thanks to Christine Douglas, more of whose work can be found here.

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August 2018