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SEPTEMBER 2009

LAKE ERIE STEAMSHIP TRAVEL IN THE 19TH CENTURY


Above is an undated lithograph from the Capt. Frank Hamilton Collection in the Charles E. Frohman Collection. It features images of the Alaska and the Pearl, two side-wheeler steamships that plied the waters of Lake Erie between Detroit, Sandusky, and the Bass Islands. Detroit dry dock owner John P. Clark built the Pearl in 1875 and the Alaska in 1878. The 1870s through the turn of the century marked the heydey of steam ship travel to the Bass Islands. There was strong competition for the lucrative trade in transporting thousands of resort visitors, supplies for the islanders, and grapes from the wineries.

You can read more about these two side-wheelers from the vessel database of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes at Bowling Green State University's Jerome Library.

Two record books, also preserved in the Hayes Center's Captain Frank Hamilton Collection, provide the vessel owner's or master's name; home port; date; and the vessel’s name, tonnage, and type; and the Lake Erie port from 1867 to 1871.


The second book records license bonds of Lake Erie vessel owners for nearly the same period.

Follow the above links to indexes of both records.