front cover of Ancient Ocean Crossings
Ancient Ocean Crossings
Reconsidering the Case for Contacts with the Pre-Columbian Americas
Stephen C. Jett
University of Alabama Press, 2017
Paints a compelling picture of impressive pre-Columbian cultures and Old World civilizations that, contrary to many prevailing notions, were not isolated from one another
 
In Ancient Ocean Crossings: Reconsidering the Case for Contacts with the Pre-Columbian Americas, Stephen Jett encourages readers to reevaluate the common belief that there was no significant interchange between the chiefdoms and civilizations of Eurasia and Africa and peoples who occupied the alleged terra incognita beyond the great oceans.
 
More than a hundred centuries separate the time that Ice Age hunters are conventionally thought to have crossed a land bridge from Asia into North America and the arrival of Columbus in the Bahamas in 1492. Traditional belief has long held that earth’s two hemispheres were essentially cut off from one another as a result of the post-Pleistocene meltwater-fed rising oceans that covered that bridge. The oceans, along with arctic climates and daunting terrestrial distances, formed impermeable barriers to interhemispheric communication. This viewpoint implies that the cultures of the Old World and those of the Americas developed independently.
 
Drawing on abundant and concrete evidence to support his theory for significant pre-Columbian contacts, Jett suggests that many ancient peoples had both the seafaring capabilities and the motives to cross the oceans and, in fact, did so repeatedly and with great impact. His deep and broad work synthesizes information and ideas from archaeology, geography, linguistics, climatology, oceanography, ethnobotany, genetics, medicine, and the history of navigation and seafaring, making an innovative and persuasive multidisciplinary case for a new understanding of human societies and their diffuse but interconnected development.
 
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The Cedarville Conspiracy
Indicting U.S. Steel
L. Stephen Cox
University of Michigan Press, 2005
On the morning of May 7, 1965, the American freighter Cedarville collided with the Norwegian vessel Topdalsfjord in heavy fog in the Straits of Mackinac. Ultimately, ten crew members of the Cedarville died and a legal battle ensued implicating U.S. Steel---the company that owned the Cedarville---in the chain of events leading to the tragedy.

The Cedarville Conspiracy is the story of that doomed ship and its crew. It is also the first Great Lakes history to expose the heroism, villainy, courage, and confusion surrounding the Cedarville disaster.

In atmospheric, cinematic style, L. Stephen Cox's gripping page-turner dramatizes the events surrounding the collision between the Norwegian and American freighters. As the mortally wounded Cedarville began to list and sink, U.S. Steel refused to allow the crew to escape to safety, while the captain secretly donned his life jacket and abandoned the sinking ship. Ten seamen died in the frigid waters that morning as the captain and survivors swam to safety.

Researching the story, author L. Stephen Cox interviewed the surviving crew and their rescuers and attorneys, examined more than 20,000 pages of Coast Guard reports, and discovered deposition transcripts and other documentary evidence that detailed the deterioration of the ship, the captain's disregard of Great Lakes navigational rules, the company's participation in the decision to confine the men aboard the sinking vessel, and the subsequent efforts by U.S. Steel to manipulate the evidence.
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Cruiser HNLMS Tromp
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press

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Deckhand
Life on Freighters of the Great Lakes
Nelson "Mickey" Haydamacker with Alan D. Millar
University of Michigan Press, 2009

Long before popular television shows such as Dirty Jobs and The Deadliest Catch, everyday men and women---the unsung heroes of the job world---toiled in important but mostly anonymous jobs. One of those jobs was deckhand on the ore boats.

With numerous photographs and engaging stories, Deckhand offers an insider's view of both the mundane and the intriguing duties performed by deckhands on these gritty cargo vessels. Boisterous port saloons, monster ice jams, near drownings, and the daily drudgery of soogeying---cleaning dirt and grime off the ships---are just a few of the experiences Mickey Haydamacker had as a young deckhand working on freighters of the Great Lakes in the early 1960s. Haydamacker sailed five Interlake Steamship Company boats, from the modern Elton Hoyt 2nd to the ancient coal-powered Colonel James Pickands with its backbreaking tarp-covered hatches.

Deckhand will appeal to shipping buffs and to anyone interested in Great Lakes shipping and maritime history as it chronicles the adventures of living on the lakes from the seldom-seen view of a deckhand.

Mickey Haydamacker spent his youth as a deckhand sailing on the freighters of the Great Lakes. During the 1962 and '63 seasons Nelson sailed five different Interlake Steamship Company ore boats. He later went on to become an arson expert with the Michigan State Police, retiring with the rank of Detective Sergeant.

Alan D. Millar, to whom Haydamacker related his tale of deckhanding, spent his career as a gift store owner and often wrote copy for local newspaper, TV, and radio.

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Destroyer HMCS Haida
Rindert van Zinderen-Bakker
Amsterdam University Press

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Destroyer HNLMS Kortenaer
Rindert van Zinderen-Bakker
Amsterdam University Press, 2019
HNLMS Kortenaer was torpedoed by the Japanese cruiser Haguro in the Battle of the Java Sea on February 27, 1942. An eyewitness recorded that ‘Kortenaer, about 700 yards bearing 80° relative, was struck on the starboard quarter by a torpedo, blew up, turned over, and sank at once leaving only a jackknifed bow and stern a few feet above the surface.’
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The Echoes of L'Arbre Croche
Donald A. Johnston
University of Michigan Press, 2009

The year is 1915, and Benjamin Corvet, founder of the ship-owning firm Corvet, Sherrill and Spearman, suddenly disappears, sparking events and questions that baffle even those who are close to him.

Constance Sherrill, an attractive, sheltered young woman, feels strangely responsible for what may have happened to him---her father's best friend and coworker. Alan Conrad arrives in Chicago searching for his identity and an unknown benefactor and is swept into a maelstrom of mystery and intrigue that tests his intelligence and athleticism to the fullest. Henry Spearman, the firm's junior partner, is the most eligible bachelor along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive as a result of his catapult from ships' ranks to successful owner.

When a ship sinks off the coast of Beaver Island in Michigan, the intertwining lives of these characters unlock the mystery of the disappearance of another ship twenty years earlier, in a riveting whodunit set on the stormy waters of the Great Lakes.

Donald A. Johnston was born and raised in Detroit, served in World War II as a U.S. Navy Reserve officer, and was decorated for service in the Philippines and in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. His career includes forty years in the insurance business. An ardent sailing enthusiast, he has cruised the Great Lakes extensively and has sailed winners in class boats and in offshore competition.

Jacket photograph © Yuriz / iStockphoto.com

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Engines of Rebellion
Confederate Ironclads and Steam Engineering in the American Civil War
Saxon T. Bisbee
University of Alabama Press, 2018
A challenge to the prevailing idea that Confederate ironclads were inherently defective
 
The development of steam propulsion machinery in warships during the nineteenth century, in conjunction with iron armor and shell guns, resulted in a technological revolution in the world’s navies. Warships utilizing all of these technologies were built in France and Great Britain in the 1850s, but it was during the American Civil War that large numbers of ironclads powered solely by steam proved themselves to be quite capable warships.  
 
Historians have given little attention to the engineering of Confederate ironclads, although the Confederacy was often quite creative in building and obtaining marine power plants. Engines of Rebellion: Confederate Ironclads and Steam Engineering in the American Civil War focuses exclusively on ships with American built machinery, offering a detailed look at marine steam-engineering practices in both northern and southern industry prior to and during the Civil War.
 
Beginning with a contextual naval history of the Civil War, the creation of the ironclad program, and the advent of various technologies, Saxon T. Bisbee analyzes the armored warships built by the Confederate States of America that represented a style adapted to scarce industrial resources and facilities. This unique historical and archaeological investigation consolidates and expands on the scattered existing information about Confederate ironclad steam engines, boilers, and propulsion systems.
 
Through analysis of steam machinery development during the Civil War, Bisbee assesses steam plants of twenty-seven ironclads by source, type, and performance, among other factors. The wartime role of each vessel is discussed, as well as the stories of the people and establishments that contributed to its completion and operation. Rare engineering diagrams never before published or gathered in one place are included here as a complement to the text.
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Fast Combat Support Ship HNLMS Zuiderkruis
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press, 2016
HNLMS Zuiderkruis (1975-2012) was the second Fast Combat Support Ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy. It was primarily intended for Replenishment At Sea, fueling task groups and NATO units. As a modern design Zuiderkruis enabled a “one stop replenishment” and also carried AVCAT, fresh water and spare parts. A helicopter deck facilitated vertical replenishment.
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front cover of Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes
Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes
A History of Passenger Steamships on the Inland Seas
Joel Stone
University of Michigan Press, 2015
Through much of the nineteenth century, steam-powered ships provided one of the most reliable and comfortable transportation options in the United States, becoming a critical partner in railroad expansion and the heart of a thriving recreation industry. The aesthetic, structural, and commercial peak of the steamboat era occurred on the Great Lakes, where palatial ships created memories and livelihoods for millions while carrying passengers between the region’s major industrial ports of Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toronto. By the mid-twentieth century, the industry was in steep decline, and today North America’s rich and entertaining steamboat heritage has been largely forgotten. In Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes, Joel Stone revisits this important era of maritime history, packed with elegance and adventure, politics and wealth, triumph and tragedy. This story of Great Lakes travelers and the beautiful floating palaces they engendered will engage historians and history buffs alike, as well as genealogists, regionalists, and researchers.
[more]

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Frigate HMS Leander
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press, 2012
HMS Leander was completed in 1963 as the first ship of the Leander Class Improved Type 12 General Purpose Frigates. In 1974, she joined the 3rd Frigate Squadron, which included other Leander-class frigates. The design was the most successful Western frigate of its time and led to several new international designs.
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Frigate HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck
Rindert van Zinderen-Bakker
Amsterdam University Press

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Frigate USS Clark
Rindert van Zinderen-Bakker
Amsterdam University Press

logo for Amsterdam University Press
Frigate USS Clark
Rindert van Zinderen-Bakker
Amsterdam University Press

front cover of Great Ships on the Great Lakes Teacher's Guide
Great Ships on the Great Lakes Teacher's Guide
A Maritime History
Cathy Green
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013
n this highly accessible history of ships and shipping on the Great Lakes, upper elementary readers are taken on a rip-roaring journey through the waterways of the upper Midwest.

Great Ships on the Great Lakes explores the history of the region’s rivers, lakes, and inland seas—and the people and ships who navigated them. Read along as the first peoples paddle tributaries in birch bark canoes. Follow as European voyageurs pilot rivers and lakes to get beaver pelts back to the eastern market. Watch as settlers build towns and eventually cities on the shores of the Great Lakes. Listen to the stories of sailors, lighthouse keepers, and shipping agents whose livelihoods depended on the dangerous waters of Lake Michigan, Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Give an ear to their stories of unexpected tragedy and miraculous rescue, and heed their tales of risk and reward on the low seas.

Great Ships also tells the story of sea battles and gunships, of the first vessels to travel beyond the Niagara, and of the treacherous storms and cold weather that caused thousands of ships to sink in the Great Lakes. Watch as underwater archaeologists solve the mysteries of Great Lakes shipwrecks today. And learn how the shift from sail to steam forever changed the history of shipping, as schooners made way for steamships and bulk freighters, and sailing became a recreation, not a hazardous way of life.

Designed for the upper elementary classroom with emphasis on Michigan and Wisconsin, Great Ships on the Great Lakes includes a timeline of events, on-page vocabulary, and a list of resources and places to visit. Over 20 maps highlight the region’s maritime history. The accompanying Teacher’s Guide includes 18 classroom activities, arranged by chapter, including lessons on exploring shipwrecks and learning how glaciers moved across the landscape.

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Guided Missile Frigate Tromp
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
Both Tromp-class frigates entered service in 1975/-76. Their primary task was area air defense. They acted as flagships for the COMNLTG (Commander Netherlands Task Group). Their large radome (which housed a 3D radar antenna) is why the ships had the nickname ‘Kojak’, after the bald-headed actor in the famous crime tv-series.
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A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks
Stewart Gordon
University Press of New England, 2017
Stories of disasters at sea, whether about Roman triremes, the treasure fleet of the Spanish Main, or great transatlantic ocean liners, fire the imagination as little else can. From the historical sinkings of the Titanic and the Lusitania to the recent capsizing of a Mediterranean cruise ship, the study of shipwrecks also makes for a new and very different understanding of world history. A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks explores the age-old, immensely hazardous, persistently romantic, and ongoing process of moving people and goods across the seven seas. In recounting the stories of ships and the people who made and sailed them, from the earliest craft plying the ancient Nile to the Exxon Valdez, Stewart Gordon argues that the gradual integration of mainly local and separate maritime domains into fewer, larger, and more interdependent regions offers a unique perspective on world history. Gordon draws a number of provocative conclusions from his study, among them that the European “Age of Exploration” as a singular event is simply a myth: over the millennia, many cultures, east and west, have explored far-flung maritime worlds, and technologies of shipbuilding and navigation have been among the main drivers of science and exploration throughout history. In a series of compelling narratives, A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks shows that the development of institutions and technologies that made the terrifying oceans familiar and turned unknown seas into well-traveled sea-lanes matters profoundly in our modern world.
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Ice Ship
The Epic Voyages of the Polar Adventurer Fram
Charles W. Johnson
University Press of New England, 2014
In the golden age of polar exploration (from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s), many an expedition set out to answer the big question—was the Arctic a continent, an open ocean beyond a barrier of ice, or an ocean covered with ice? No one knew, for the ice had kept its secret well; ships trying to penetrate it all failed, often catastrophically. Norway’s charismatic scientist-explorer Fridtjof Nansen, convinced that it was a frozen ocean, intended to prove it in a novel if risky way: by building a ship capable of withstanding the ice, joining others on an expedition, then drifting wherever it took them, on a relentless one-way journey into discovery and fame . . . or oblivion. Ice Ship is the story of that extraordinary ship, the Fram, from conception to construction, through twenty years of three epic expeditions, to its final resting place as a museum. It is also the story of the extraordinary men who steered the Fram over the course of 84,000 miles: on a three-year, ice-bound drift, finding out what the Arctic really was; in a remarkable four-year exploration of unmapped lands in the vast Canadian Arctic; and on a two–year voyage to Antarctica, where another famous Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, claimed the South Pole. Ice Ship will appeal to all those fascinated with polar exploration, maritime adventure, and wooden ships, and will captivate readers of such books as The Endurance, In the Heart of the Sea, and The Last Place on Earth. With more than 100 original photographs, the book brings the Fram to life and light.
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The Keelboat Age on Western Waters
Leland D. Baldwin
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1941
This book tells the story of river boating in the West before the invention of the steamboat. In a deft combination of thorough research and interesting narrative, Baldwin recreates life on the keelboats and flatboats that plied the Ohio, Mississippi, and other rivers from revolutionary days until about 1820. No one knows who put the first keel along the bottom of one big, clumsy river craft used by the pioneers. but the change made the boats far easier to manage, and travel in both directions became practical all the way to New Orleans.

Baldwin examines the many types of craft in use, the different methods of locomotion, and the art of navigation on uncharted rivers full of hidden obstacles. But he never loses sight of the picturesque aspects of his subject, especially the boatmen themselves-a tribe of rugged and fearless men whose colorful lives are described in great detail.

The Keelboat Age is a segment cut from the history of the frontier, showing the overwhelming importance of river transportation in the development of the West. The rivers were great arteries, carrying a restless people into a new land. The keelboatman and his craft did much to build a nation.
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Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships
Fred Neuschel
University of Michigan Press, 2007

Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships brings the maritime heritage of the Great Lakes to life, using the tragic story of the schooner Rouse Simmons as a porthole into the robust but often forgotten communities that thrived along Lake Michigan from the Civil War to World War I.

Memorialized in songs, poems, fiction, and even a musical, the infamous ship that went down in a Thanksgiving storm while delivering Christmas trees to Chicago has long been shrouded in myth and legend. As a result, the larger story of the captain, crew, and affected communities has often been overlooked. Fred Neuschel delves into this everyday life of camaraderie, drudgery, ambition, and adventure—with tales of the Midwest’s burgeoning immigrant groups and rapid industrialization—to create a true story that is even more fascinating than the celebrated legends.

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The Longest Voyage
Circumnavigators in the Age of Discovery
Robert Silverberg
Ohio University Press, 1997

From the intense and brooding Magellan and the glamorous and dashing Sir Francis Drake; to Thomas Cavendish, who set off to plunder Spain’s American gold and the Dutch circumnavigators, whose numbers included pirates as well as explorers and merchants,  Robert Silverberg  captures the adventures and seafaring exploits of a bygone era.

Over the course of a century, European circumnavigators in small ships charted the coast of the New World and explored the Pacific Ocean. Characterized by fierce nationalism, competitiveness, and bloodshed, The Longest Voyage: Circumnavigators in the Age of Discovery  captures the drama, danger, and personalities in the colorful story of the first voyages around the world. These accounts begin with Magellan’s unprecedented 1519–22 circumnavigation, providing an immediate, exciting, and intimate glimpse into that historic venture. The story includes frequent threats of mutiny; the nearly unendurable extremes of heat, cold, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; the fear, tedium, and moments of despair; the discoveries of exotic new peoples and strange new lands; and, finally, Magellan’s own dramatic death during a fanatical attempt to convert native Philippine islanders to Christianity.

Capturing the total context of political climate and historical change that made the Age of Discovery one of excitement and drama, Silverberg brings a motley crew of early ocean explorers vividly to life.

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Making Waves
Michigan’s Boat-Building Industry, 1865-2000
Scott M. Peters
University of Michigan Press, 2015
Michigan will always be known as the automobile capital of the world, but the Great Lakes State boasts a similarly rich heritage in the development of boat building in America. By the late nineteenth century, Michigan had emerged as the industry’s hub, drawing together the most talented designers, builders, and engine makers to produce some of the fastest and most innovative boats ever created. Within decades, gifted Michigan entrepreneurs like Christopher Columbus Smith, John L. Hacker, and Gar Wood had established some of the nation’s top boat brands and brought the prospect of boat ownership within reach for American consumers from all ranges of income. More than just revolutionizing recreational boating, Michigan boat builders also left their mark on history—from developing the speedy runabouts favored by illicit rum-runners during the Prohibition era to creating the landing craft that carried Allied forces to shores in Europe and the Pacific in WWII. In Making Waves, Scott M. Peters explores this intriguing story of people, processes, and products—of an industry that evolved in Michigan but would change boating across the world.
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The Miracle of the Kent
A Tale of Courage, Faith, and Fire
Nicholas Tracy
Westholme Publishing, 2008
An Extraordinary Rescue and One of the Greatest Human Interest Stories of All Time

“A naturally gripping adventure tale.”—Publishers Weekly 
“Powerful and intensely focused.”—Booklist 
“Tracy's satisfying narrative constitutes the first modern account. A finely detailed maritime history.”—Kirkus Reviews

In 1825, the Kent, an East Indiaman, set sail from England for India with a crew and nearly 600 men, women, and children on board. North of Spain, the ship was slammed by a ferocious gale, and while a sailor was inspecting the hold for damage, his lantern ignited a cask of spirits. A fire quickly erupted, and even with the desperate expedient of opening hatches and flooding the ship, the fire burned out of control. As night wore on, the ship became an inferno, with the flames moving toward stores of gunpowder. At this point, everyone on board knew that they would perish, and they began preparing for their ghastly deaths. Despite the raging tempest a sailor climbed one last time to the top of the Kent’s mainmast and—miraculously—a sail was sighted on the horizon. It was the Cambria, a small brig on its way to Mexico. The Cambriaspied the burning Kentand through determination and dogged seamanship in towering seas, the little brig closed the doomed vessel. Launching their boats, the Kent’s and Cambria’s crews were able to transfer nearly all of the children, women, and men to the brig and pull away before the Kent exploded. Dangerously overloaded, the Cambriamade the Cornish coast three days later.
In The Miracle of the Kent: A Tale of Courage, Faith, and Fire, award-winning historian Nicholas Tracy reconstructs this extraordinary tale through records left by the participants, revealing how those aboard the Kent faced their deaths, and their reactions to being offered a second chance. The story of the Kentis both a page-turning adventure and an inspirational homage to the capacity of the human spirit.
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Ninety Years Crossing Lake Michigan
The History of the Ann Arbor Car Ferries
Grant Brown, Jr.
University of Michigan Press, 2008

"A must buy for anyone interested in the Great Lakes."
---Frederick Stonehouse, maritime historian

In 1892, the Ann Arbor Car Ferries shook the transportation world by doing what was then deemed impossible---carrying loaded railroad cars by ship across the sixty-two miles of open water between Frankfort, Michigan and Kewaunee, Wisconsin. With passion, acuity, and remarkable detail, Grant Brown describes the nearly 100-year crossings---from their beginnings with James Ashley's bold new idea of car ferrying down to the last fight for survival until the Michigan Interstate Rail Company finally closed in 1982.

Crossing the lake with loaded freight cars was a treacherous task that presented daily obstacles. Knowledgeable people believed it was impossible to secure rail cars from tipping over and sinking the ship. Weather and ice presented two near-insurmountable hurdles, making car ferrying doubly difficult in the winter when nearly all shipping on the Great Lakes shut down. This vivid history gives voice to the ships and their crews as they battled the storms without modern navigational aids or adequate power.

This spirited account of the Ann Arbor car ferries draws on ships' logs from various museums, over 2,000 newspaper articles, annual reports from 1889 through 1976, and interviews with former employees. The result is a living history of the ships, the crews, and their adventures; of the men who built and ran the business; and of the enormous influence the vessels had on the communities they served.

Grant Brown, Jr., worked for S.D. Warren Company, a paper manufacturer, for 37 years. He raced sailboats on Crystal Lake in northern Michigan for ten years while growing up, continued in Boston and St. Louis, and has since returned to living and racing in Frankfort, Michigan. He spent eight years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, where he learned navigation and shipboard procedure.

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Ninety Years Crossing Lake Michigan
The History of the Ann Arbor Car Ferries
Grant Brown, Jr.
University of Michigan Press, 2008

"A must buy for anyone interested in the Great Lakes."
---Frederick Stonehouse, maritime historian

In 1892, the Ann Arbor Car Ferries shook the transportation world by doing what was then deemed impossible---carrying loaded railroad cars by ship across the sixty-two miles of open water between Frankfort, Michigan and Kewaunee, Wisconsin. With passion, acuity, and remarkable detail, Grant Brown describes the nearly 100-year crossings---from their beginnings with James Ashley's bold new idea of car ferrying down to the last fight for survival until the Michigan Interstate Rail Company finally closed in 1982.

Crossing the lake with loaded freight cars was a treacherous task that presented daily obstacles. Knowledgeable people believed it was impossible to secure rail cars from tipping over and sinking the ship. Weather and ice presented two near-insurmountable hurdles, making car ferrying doubly difficult in the winter when nearly all shipping on the Great Lakes shut down. This vivid history gives voice to the ships and their crews as they battled the storms without modern navigational aids or adequate power.

This spirited account of the Ann Arbor car ferries draws on ships' logs from various museums, over 2,000 newspaper articles, annual reports from 1889 through 1976, and interviews with former employees. The result is a living history of the ships, the crews, and their adventures; of the men who built and ran the business; and of the enormous influence the vessels had on the communities they served.

Grant Brown, Jr., worked for S.D. Warren Company, a paper manufacturer, for 37 years. He raced sailboats on Crystal Lake in northern Michigan for ten years while growing up, continued in Boston and St. Louis, and has since returned to living and racing in Frankfort, Michigan. He spent eight years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, where he learned navigation and shipboard procedure.

[more]

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Out of the Depths
A History of Shipwrecks
Alan G. Jamieson
Reaktion Books, 2024
A highly illustrated voyage through shipwrecks ancient and contemporary.
 
Out of the Depths explores all aspects of shipwrecks across four thousand years, examining their historical context and significance, showing how shipwrecks can be time capsules, and shedding new light on long-departed societies and civilizations. Alan G. Jamieson not only informs readers of the technological developments over the last sixty years that have made the true appreciation of shipwrecks possible, but he also covers shipwrecks in culture and maritime archaeology, their appeal to treasure hunters, and their environmental impacts. Although shipwrecks have become less common in recent decades, their implications have become more wide-ranging: since the 1960s, foundering supertankers have caused massive environmental disasters, and in 2021, the blocking of the Suez Canal by the giant container ship Ever Given had a serious effect on global trade.
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Over the Alleghenies
Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania
Robert J. Kapsch
West Virginia University Press, 2013
Between 1826 and 1858 the state of Pennsylvania built and operated the largest and most technologically advanced system of canals and railroads in North America–almost one thousand miles of transport that stretched from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and beyond.
 
The construction of this ambitious transportation system was accompanied by great euphoria. It was widely believed that the revenue created from these canals and railroads would eliminate the need for all taxes on state citizens. Yet with the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis much like boom and bust cycle that ended in 2008, a deep recession fell across the country.
By 1858, Pennsylvania had sold all canals and railroads to private companies, often for pennies-on-the-dollar.
 
Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania is the definitive history of the state of Pennsylvania’s incredible canal and railroad system. Although often condemned as a colossal failure, this construction effort remains an innovative, magnificent feat that ushered in modern transportation to Pennsylvania and the entire country. With extensive primary research, over one hundred illustrations, newspapers clippings, and charts and graphs, Over the Alleghenies examines and dissects the infrastructure project that bankrupted the wealthiest state in the Union. 
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PCE 1604 Series, Frigate Panter
Henk Visser
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
The six Frigate Panters were all built in the USA with MDAP funds. They were designed to escort slow coastal convoys in the Channel and North Sea areas and were operated as a single squadron by the Royal Netherlands Navy. They proved useful in a number of peacetime tasks, especially fishery protection, and some retained this role in the North Sea until the mid-1980s.
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Protected cruiser Gelderland
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press

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Sail, Steam, and Diesel
Moving Cargo on the Great Lakes
Eric Hirsimaki
Michigan State University Press, 2024
Water transportation has played a key role in the Great Lakes region’s settlement and economic growth, from providing entry into the new lake states to offering cheap transportation for the goods they produced. There are numerous tales surrounding the Great Lakes shipping trade, but few storytellers have addressed the factors that influenced the use, design, and evolution of the ships that sailed the inland seas. Sail, Steam, and Diesel: Moving Cargo on the Great Lakes provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of Great Lakes ships over the centuries, from small birch-bark canoes originally used in the region to the massive thousand-footers of today. The author also looks at the economics of vessel operation in the context of the expanding scope of the shipping industry, which was crucial in catapulting America into becoming an industrial juggernaut. The captains of industry and the sailors whose labor propelled the trade populate this account, which also offers solemn acknowledgment of the high cost paid in both lost ships and lives. Although they might not realize it, millions of Americans have owed their livelihoods to the Great Lakes boats, and this volume is an excellent way to recognize the importance of this regional industry.
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Sailing into History
Great Lakes Bulk Carriers of the Twentieth Century and the Crews Who Sailed Them
Frank Boles
Michigan State University Press, 2017
The Great Lakes create a vast transportation network that supports a massive shipping industry. In this volume, seamanship, cargo, competition, cooperation, technology, engineering, business, unions, government decisions, and international agreements all come together to create a story of unrivaled interest about the Great Lakes ships and the crews that sailed them in the twentieth century. This complex and multifaceted tale begins in iron and coal mines, with the movement of the raw ingredients of industrial America across docks into ever larger ships using increasingly complicated tools and technology. The shipping industry was an expensive challenge, as it required huge investments of capital, caused bitter labor disputes, and needed direct government intervention to literally remake the lakes to accommodate the ships. It also demanded one of the most integrated international systems of regulation and navigation in the world to sail a ship from Duluth to upstate New York. Sailing into History describes the fascinating history of a century of achievements and setbacks, unimagined change mixed with surprising stability.
 
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Sailing to the Far Horizon
The Restless Journey and Tragic Sinking of a Tall Ship
Pamela Sisman Bitterman
University of Wisconsin Press, 2004
The tall ship Sofia sank off New Zealand’s North Island in February 1982, stranding its crew on disabled life rafts for five days. They struggled to survive as any realistic hope of rescue dwindled. Just a few years earlier, Pamela Sisman Bitterman was a naïve swabbie looking for adventure, signing on with a sailing co-operative taking this sixty-year-old, 123-foot, three-masted gaff-topsail schooner around the globe. The aged Baltic trader had been rescued from a wooden boat graveyard in Sweden and reincarnated as a floating commune in the 1960s. By the time Sofia went down, Bitterman had become an able seaman, promoted first to bos’un and then acting first mate, immersing herself in this life of a tall ship sailor, world traveler, and survivor.
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Seaway to the Future
American Social Visions and the Construction of the Panama Canal
Alexander Missal
University of Wisconsin Press, 2008
Realizing the century-old dream of a passage to India, the building of the Panama Canal was an engineering feat of colossal dimensions, a construction site filled not only with mud and water but with interpretations, meanings, and social visions. Alexander Missal’s Seaway to the Future unfolds a cultural history of the Panama Canal project, revealed in the texts and images of the era’s policymakers and commentators. Observing its creation, journalists, travel writers, and officials interpreted the Canal and its environs as a perfect society under an efficient, authoritarian management featuring innovations in technology, work, health, and consumption. For their middle-class audience in the United States, the writers depicted a foreign yet familiar place, a showcase for the future—images reinforced in the exhibits of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition that celebrated the Canal’s completion. Through these depictions, the building of the Panama Canal became a powerful symbol in a broader search for order as Americans looked to the modern age with both anxiety and anticipation.
            Like most utopian visions, this one aspired to perfection at the price of exclusion. Overlooking the West Indian laborers who built the Canal, its admirers praised the white elite that supervised and administered it. Inspired by the masculine ideal personified by President Theodore Roosevelt, writers depicted the Canal Zone as an emphatically male enterprise and Chief Engineer George W. Goethals as the emblem of a new type of social leader, the engineer-soldier, the benevolent despot. Examining these and other images of the Panama Canal project, Seaway to the Future shows how they reflected popular attitudes toward an evolving modern world and, no less important, helped shape those perceptions.

Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

“Provide[s] a useful vantage on the world bequeathed to us by the forces that set out to put America astride the globe nearly a century ago.”—Chris Rasmussen, Bookforum
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Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners
John G. Sayers
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2020
In the heyday of ocean travel—between the late nineteenth century and World War II—ocean liners were a home away from home. Passengers prepared for voyages that could last as long as three months, and shipping companies ensured their guests were as comfortable as possible, providing entertainment, dining, sleeping quarters, and smoking lounges to accommodate passengers of all ages and budgets. Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners leads the reader through each stage of ocean liner travel, from booking a ticket and choosing a cabin to shore excursions, on-board games, social events, and even romances. This book dives into a vast, unique collection of ephemera to reveal the scandals, glamour, challenges, and tragedies of ocean liner travel. Shipping companies produced glitzy brochures, sailing schedules, voyage logs, passenger lists, postcards, and menus, all of which help us to enjoy daily life on board. Diaries, letters, and journals written by passengers also reveal a host of fascinating insights into the experience of traveling by sea.
[more]

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Ship Captain's Daughter
Growing Up on the Great Lakes
Ann Michler Lewis
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2015

Ann Lewis's childhood was marked by an unusual rhythm. Each year the thawing and freezing of the Great Lakes signaled the beginning and end of the shipping season, months of waiting that were punctuated by brief trips to various ports to meet her father, the captain.

With lively storytelling and vivid details, Lewis captures the unusual life of shipping families whose days and weeks revolved around the shipping industry on the Great Lakes. She paints an intriguing and affectionate portrait of her father, a talented pianist whose summer job aboard an ore freighter led him to a life on the water. Working his way up from deckhand to ship captain, Willis Michler became the master of thirteen ships over a span of twenty-eight years. From the age of twelve, Ann accompanied the captain to the ports of Milwaukee, Chicago, Toledo, and Cleveland on the lower Great Lakes. She describes sailing through stormy weather and starry nights, visiting the engine room, dining at the captain's table, and wheeling the block-long ship with her father in the pilot house. Through her mother's stories and remarks, Lewis also reveals insights into the trials and rewards of being a ship captain's wife. The book is enhanced by the author's vintage snapshots, depicting this bygone lifestyle.

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Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Workers around the World
Case Studies 1950-2010
Edited by Raquel Varela, Hugh Murphy, and Marcel van der Linden
Amsterdam University Press, 2016
Maritime trade is the backbone of the world’s economy. Around ninety percent of all goods are transported by ship, and since World War II, shipbuilding has undergone major changes in response to new commercial pressures and opportunities. Early British dominance, for example, was later undermined in the 1950s by competition from the Japanese, who have since been overtaken by South Korea and, most recently, China. The case studies in this volume trace these and other important developments in the shipbuilding and ship repair industries, as well as workers’ responses to these historic transformations.
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Ships and Shipwrecks
Stories from the Great Lakes
Richard Gebhart
Michigan State University Press, 2022
From the day that French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle launched the Griffin in 1679 to the 1975 sinking of the celebrated Edmund Fitzgerald, thousands of commercial ships have sailed on the vast and perilous waters of the Great Lakes. In a harbinger of things to come, on the return leg of its first trip in late summer 1679, the Griffin disappeared and has never been seen again. In the centuries since then, the records show that an alarming number of shipwrecks have occurred on the Great Lakes. If vessels that wrecked but were later repaired and returned to service are included, the number certainly swells into the thousands. Most did not mysteriously vanish like the Griffin. Instead, they suffered the occupational hazards of every lake boat: collisions, groundings, strands, fires, boiler explosions, and capsizes. Many of these disasters took the lives of crews and passengers. The fearsome wrath of the storms that brew over the Great Lakes has challenged and defeated some of the staunchest vessels constructed in the shipyards of port cities along the U.S. and Canadian lakeshores. Here Richard Gebhart tells the tales of some of these ships and their captains and crews, from their launches to their sad demises—or sometimes, their celebrated retirements. This volume is a must-read for anyone intrigued by the maritime history of the Great Lakes.
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Stories from the Wreckage
A Great Lakes Maritime History Inspired by Shipwrecks
John Odin Jensen
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2019
Every shipwreck has a story that extends far beyond its tragic end. The dramatic tales of disaster, heroism, and folly become even more compelling when viewed as junction points in history—connecting to stories about the frontier, the environment, immigration, politics, technology, and industry. In Stories from the Wreckage, John Odin Jensen examines a selection of Great Lakes shipwrecks of the wooden age for a deeper dive into this transformative chapter of maritime history. He mines the archeological evidence and historic record to show how their tragic ends fit in with the larger narrative of Midwestern history. Featuring the underwater photography of maritime archeologist Tamara Thomsen, this vibrant volume is a must-have for shipping enthusiasts as well as anyone interested in the power of water to shape history.
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Sub Culture
The Many Lives of the Submarine
John Medhurst
Reaktion Books, 2022
A deep dive into the significance of submarines, across everything from warfare and politics to literature and film.
 
Sub Culture explores the crucial role of the submarine in modern history, its contribution to scientific progress and maritime exploration, and how it has been portrayed in art, literature, fantasy, and film. Ranging from the American Civil War to the destruction of the Russian submarine Kursk in 2000, the book examines the submarine’s activities in the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War, and in covert operations and marine exploration to the present day. Citing the submarine, particularly the nuclear submarine, as both ultimate deterrent and doomsday weapon, Sub Culture examines how its portrayal in popular culture has reinforced, and occasionally undermined, the military and political agendas of the nation-states that deploy it.
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Too Much Sea for Their Decks
Shipwrecks of Minnesota's North Shore and Isle Royale
Michael Schumacher
University of Minnesota Press, 2023

Shipwreck stories from along Minnesota’s north shore of Lake Superior and Isle Royale

Against the backdrop of the extraordinary history of Great Lakes shipping, Too Much Sea for Their Decks chronicles shipwrecked schooners, wooden freighters, early steel-hulled steamers, whalebacks, and bulk carriers—some well-known, some unknown or forgotten—all lost in the frigid waters of Lake Superior.

Included are compelling accounts of vessels destined for infamy, such as that of the Stranger, a slender wooden schooner swallowed by the lake in 1875, the sailors’ bodies never recovered nor the wreckage ever found; an account of the whaleback Wilson, rammed by a large commercial freighter in broad daylight and in calm seas, sinking before many on board could escape; and the mysterious loss of the Kamloops, a package freighter that went down in a storm and whose sailors were found on the Isle Royale the following spring, having escaped the wreck only to die of exposure on the island. Then there is the ill-fated Steinbrenner, plagued by bad luck from the time of her construction, when she was nearly destroyed by fire, to her eventual (and tragic) sinking in 1953. These tales and more represent loss of life and property—and are haunting stories of brave and heroic crews.

Arranged chronologically and presented in three sections covering Minnesota's North Shore, Isle Royale, and the three biggest storms in Minnesota’s Great Lakes history (the 1905 Mataafa storm, the 1913 hurricane on the lakes, and the 1940 Armistice Day storm), each shipwreck documented within these pages provides a piece to the history of shipping on Lake Superior.

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front cover of Tragedy and Triumph on the Great Lakes
Tragedy and Triumph on the Great Lakes
Richard Gebhart
Michigan State University Press, 2024
Richard Gebhart traces little-known voyages of Great Lakes ships that sailed the Atlantic beginning in the 1850s. They bore cargoes to and from the lakes and as far as Constantinople. Gebhart recovers the voices of long-ago ship captains, along with their cargo manifests and itineraries. Drawing on deep research in old newspapers and maritime archives, he traces the construction of new ships and shipyards, and the comings and goings and travails of the lakes’ workhorses. Included is a mournful visit to a boneyard where many ships’ lives ended. Among many other lost tales, Gebhart brings to light the rise of oil tankers, marking the great twentieth-century energy transition in shipping. A must-read for Great Lakes shipping fans.
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Tripartite minehunter Haarlem
Bob Roetering
Amsterdam University Press, 2023

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Type 42 destroyer Southampton
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press, 2019
The primary role of the Type 42 destroyers was providing air defense for the fleet. With their long-range sensors, the ships could also act as radar pickets, sailing ahead of a task group. HMS Southampton was the eighth ship originally destined to be a 16-ship class – two of these ships have been exported to Argentina. The type 42 comprised eight Batch 1 vessels, four Batch 2 and four Batch 3 Stretched Type 42.
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Type 47B Destroyer Drenthe
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
After World War II, the Royal Netherlands Navy ordered new ships to counter the growing threat coming from the Soviet submarines. These ships were classified as ASW destroyers (onderzeebootjagers), but close to contemporary destroyers in terms of specifications. The national industry designed and constructed two classes of these ships. Drenthe was of the more capable Type 47B series.
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Valor and Courage
The Story of the USS Block Island Escort Carriers in World War II
Benjamin J. Hruska
University of Alabama Press, 2021
Recounts the stories of the USS Block Island CVE 21 and CVE 106 and their crews, many of whom served on both ships in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres

In Valor and Courage: The Story of the USS Block Island Escort Carriers in World War II Benjamin Hruska explores the history and commemoration of the USS Block Island—or, more properly, the Block Islands, as two escort carriers bore that name during WWII. The first, CVE 21, bears the distinction of having been the only American aircraft carrier sunk in the Atlantic Theatre after being torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of North Africa.
 
Of the CVE 21’s 957 crew members, six sailors were killed and eighteen injured in the strike, and four of the Block Island’s fighter pilots were lost later in the day searching for a safe place to land their planes. When the CVE 106 was commissioned to replace its predecessor, Captain Massie Hughes successfully persuaded the Navy to keep the CVE 21’s crew together in manning the new ship. After resurrection as the CVE 106, the Block Island was assigned to the Pacific theater where it fought until the end of the war. The saga of these two ships and the crew that navigated two very different theaters of war offers a unique lens on naval strategy and engineering as it evolved during WWII, especially as pertains to the escort carrier class—generally underappreciated both in naval studies and in public memory.
 
Using archival materials, dozens of oral histories, primary sources, and official records, Hruska traces the life of the Block Island from the CVE 21’s construction through its missions in the Atlantic, its work as an antisubmarine hunter, its destruction, and the lasting impact of those experiences on its crew. Hruska’s study juxtaposes traditional military history with an examination of the acts of remembrance and commemoration by veterans who served on the escort carriers, how those practices evolved over time, and how the meanings of personal wartime experiences and memories gradually shifted throughout that process.
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Warship 1
Cruiser HNLMS Tromp
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press

front cover of Warship 10
Warship 10
Type 47B Destroyer Drenthe
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press

front cover of Warship 14
Warship 14
Dutch Leander Frigate Van Speijk
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press

front cover of Warship 3
Warship 3
Frigate HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck
Rindert van Zinderen Bakker
Amsterdam University Press

front cover of Warship 4
Warship 4
Frigate USS Clark
Rindert van Zinderen Bakker
Amsterdam University Press

front cover of Warship 5
Warship 5
Protected Cruiser Gelderland
Jantinus Mulder
Amsterdam University Press

front cover of Warship 6
Warship 6
Destroyer HMCS Haida
Rindert van Zinderen Bakker
Amsterdam University Press


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