City of Detroit III

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Postcard of the City of Detroit III
Postcard from 1917 depicting the City of Detroit III
Career (US) United States
Name: City of Detroit III
Namesake: Detroit, Michigan
Owner: Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company
Builder: Detroit Shipbuilding Company
Cost: $1,500,000
Launched: October 7, 1911
Homeport: Detroit, Michigan
Identification: US 209571
Fate: Dismantled in 1956 and sold for scrap[1]
General characteristics
Type: Sidewheel steamer
Tonnage: 6,061 gross tons[2]
Length: over all: 470 ft 10 in (143.51 m)
on keel: 455 ft 10 in (138.94 m)[3]
Beam: over guards 96 ft 6 in (29.41 m)[3]
hull, molded 55 ft 4 in (16.87 m)[3]
or 55 ft 6 in (16.92 m)[2]
Depth: at stem 22 ft (6.7 m)
at guards 21 ft 3 in (6.48 m)
at stern 29 ft 3 in (8.92 m)[3]
Capacity: 5,000 passengers[4]
Crew: 200[2]

The City of Detroit III, often referred to as just the D-III, was a sidewheeler steamboat on the Detroit River and Lake Erie. It was one of the largest sidewheelers on the Great Lakes.


The City of Detroit III was built by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company in Wyandotte, Michigan and was designed by Frank E. Kirby. The interior decorations were designed by painter and architect Louis O. Keil, who collaborated with Kirby on many projects.[5] It was owned by the Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company (D&C) and was launched on October 7, 1911.[1] When it was launched the City of Detroit III was the largest sidewheeler in the world. The next year the slightly larger 500-foot (150 m) length over all Seeandbee, another Kirby designed ship, was launched for the Cleveland Buffalo Transit Company (C&B).[6] The City of Detroit III traveled regularly between Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio and Buffalo, New York.

The "Gothic Room"[edit]

The City of Detroit III cost $1,500,000 to build ($38 million in 2015 dollars) and was ornately furnished.[4] Forty percent of the ship's width was situated over the wheels, allowing room for many amenities like salons, a palm court and a winery to be built into the ship.[7] One of the rooms was an opulent smoking room called the "Gothic Room", named for its Gothic architecture design. It was built from English oak and included a stained glass window.[4]

End of service[edit]

The City of Detroit III was taken out service in 1950 when the D&C discontinued service.[1] It was sold for scrap in 1956 and was dismantled. The City of Detroit III‍ '​s "Gothic Room" was disassembled and re-erected in a barn near Cleveland, Ohio for ten years before it was once again taken down and then partially reassembled and restored at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in Detroit.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "City of Detroit III". Marine Historical Society of Detroit. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Department of Commerce, Bureau of Navigation (1920). Merchant vessels of the United States. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. p. 87. 
  3. ^ a b c d International Marine Engineering: October 1912.
  4. ^ a b c "New $1,500,000 D. & C. steamer". The Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder (Cleveland, OH) XIX (5): 34. May 1912. 
  5. ^ "The Columbia’s Designers: Frank Kirby and Louis O. Keil". S.S. Columbia Project. Retrieved April 6, 2009. 
  6. ^ International Marine Engineering: June 1913.
  7. ^ Tutag, Nola Huse; Lucy Hamilton (1987). Discovering stained glass in Detroit. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 129. 
  8. ^ "Gothic Room". Dossin Great Lakes Museum. Detroit Historical Society. Retrieved March 27, 2009. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Bugbee, Gordon Pritchard (1976). The D-III: The story of the sidewheel steamer "City of Detroit III". Detroit: Great Lakes Maritime Institute. OCLC 11218015.