SS Alpena

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SS Alpena.JPG
Name: SS Alpena
Owner: The Goodrich Line
Port of registry:  United States
Builder: Thomas Arnold of Gallagher & Company at Marine City, Michigan
Completed: 1866
Acquired: Purchased from Gardner, Ward & Gallagher in April, 1868.
Refit: Completely overhauled at Manitowoc, Wisconsin in the winter of 1875-1876
Fate: Sunk in Lake Michigan during the "Big Blow" storm of 15 October 1880.
General characteristics
Class and type: Paddlewheel steamship
Tonnage: 654 tons
Length: 197 ft
Beam: 26.66 ft
Depth: 12 ft
Installed power: a single cylinder vertical beam steam engine
Propulsion: a pair of 24 ft radius side wheels

The SS Alpena was a sidewheel steamer built by Thomas Arnold of Gallagher & Company at Marine City, Michigan in 1866. She was operated by the Goodrich Line after being purchased from Gardner, Ward & Gallagher in April 1868. The Alpena sank in Lake Michigan in the "Big Blow" storm on October 15, 1880, with the loss of all on board.


Built in 1866, by the Thomas Arnold of Gallagher & Company of Marine City, Michigan, the Alpena was 197 feet in length, 27 feet in breadth, with a depth of 12 feet. It was rated at 654 tons displacement. The vessel was driven by a steam engine, and photographs of the vessel show its walking beam suspended above the paddlewheels.


At least 80 people died when the ship, also carrying a large cargo of apples, capsized in the middle of the lake. The ship was on a trip from Grand Haven, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois, and was spotted at 8:00 am on October 16 in heavy seas. Some time later, probably due to a shift in the cargo on deck caused by the waves, it capsized and drifted northwest. On the 17th, debris including a piano came ashore in Holland, Michigan, while apples and wood debris were found at Saugatuck.

Similarly named ships[edit]

There is also a Great Lakes ship currently of that name, formerly the Leon Fraser,[1] owned by Inland Lakes Management, an affiliate of Lafarge. It is used as a bulk freighter to haul cement. Built in 1942 and equipped with a steam turbine engine, it was originally 639 feet long, 67 feet in breadth with a depth of 35 feet. It has a 15,550 ton capacity. It was renamed, shortened and converted to a bulk cement carrier in 1991. The Alpena is a moderate sized ship in the Great Lakes fleet; the largest Lakers are almost twice its length and breadth and carry four times its cargo. She is able to transit the canals of the St. Lawrence Seaway due to her small size.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°46′48″N 86°56′51″W / 42.78000°N 86.94750°W / 42.78000; -86.94750