Ladas Hoopes McNeill

Ladas Hoopes McNeill
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Muskegon Polish Festival

Muskegon Polish Festival
Labor Day Weekend!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Milwaukee Clipper

The year, was 1904.  Just 4 short years after the beginning of a new century!  

The United States Army Corps of Engineers had just begun work on the Panama Canal, and in baseball, Cy Young threw the first perfect game of the modern era.  The third Olympic games were happening and being held in conjunction with the World's Fair in St. Louis and the first underground line of the New York Subway has just opened.   Teddy Roosevelt was elected President and Carey Grant and Dr. Suess were born.  Henry Ford set a new land speed record in a car of 91.37 miles per hour.  In late December of 1904 our story begins, as the Juniata is christened in Cleveland Ohio at the shipyards of the American Ship Building Company.  She was built for The Anchor Line, the Great Lakes Marine Division of The Pennsylvania Rail Road.

With a length of 361 feet and 45 feet at beam and a depth of 22 feet she carried 350 passengers in state rooms at 18 knots with a massive steel hull and a magnificent wooden super structure.   For the Pennsylvania Rail Road, she carried  passengers and freight between Buffalo New York and Duluth Minnesota.  She carried a lot of immigrants who had made their way to America and wanted the fastest route west to find new homes and new purpose and not having to live in the already crammed cities of the East Coast.  She ran until 1915 when the Panama Canal Act went into effect barring rail road's from owning steam ships  and the Pennsylvania Rail Road sold her, along with 4 other company owned fleets.  She continued to sail her route for another 20 seasons, but the Juniata was laid up in 1937 after the closing of the Chicago World's Fair.

In 1940, the Manitowoc ship building company extensively modernized her to become a passenger ship on Lake Michigan.  The old cabins were removed and the wooden superstructure was removed and replaced with steel.  Also added were air conditioned state rooms, a children's play room, movie theater, soda fountain, a bar, a dance floor with a live band all while maintaining her ability to carry 120 cars in her hull and she also carried a new name, The Milwaukee Clipper.

The "Queen of the Great Lakes" sailed 29 seasons between Milwaukee and Muskegon, on week days she made two round trips that took 7 hours each way and on weekends, she made three 6 hour trips daily working all 4 boilers.  During the 1950's the cost per person to travel was $3.33 and if you wanted to take your car, it was an extra $8  The cost of a "first class" upgrade was .75 cents and that got you into the forward club lounge and gave you the opportunity to use the forward deck.  In 1971.  The Milwaukee Clipper stopped running her regular route.  Ending a golden era in traveling in style and luxury. 

Today, the Milwaukee Clipper is a maritime museum and in Muskegon Michigan with a completely volunteer staff working to share her story and renovate her to her once known glory.  Much of the art-deco era furniture still sits in place aboard this ship.  In the summers, people are invited to tour her between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  There are displays of both the Juniata era as well as the Milwaukee Clipper, and there is a very nostalgic feeling on board her...a feeling to make you long for those seemingly innocent days gone by. 


There is more to come about the Clipper.   Stay tuned.   Thanks to Eagle Eye Photography for this great video!




5 comments:

  1. Hey Andy, See what you can do to find her a permanent port I talked to the captain, and until renovations are done, and it has a real mailing address to use, it can't be used commercially. I suggested that it open up as a B&B or a conventional "hotel" if you will. Being volunteer run could roll into something that would be awesome for the fireworks and shows that we are trying so desperately to keep here in Muskegon!

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  2. Hey Andy, See what you can do to find her a permanent port I talked to the captain, and until renovations are done, and it has a real mailing address to use, it can't be used commercially. I suggested that it open up as a B&B or a conventional "hotel" if you will. Being volunteer run could roll into something that would be awesome for the fireworks and shows that we are trying so desperately to keep here in Muskegon!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why can't the commercial port at B.C. Cobb plant be use? They are closing in 2016. There is a very well built commercial port right there. It could be a win win for everyone.

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    Replies
    1. I understand there are a lot of really big changes coming to the shoreline in the next few years. It's a great thing

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