This amazing shot of the excursion steamships boarding passengers at the Ferry docks in Detroit was found at the Library of Congress.
While railroads had been in service for much of the major cities in southern Michigan, excursion steamships were still a comfortable and viable option to get to Michigan’s northern resort areas. You could board a ship on a Friday evening, have dinner on board, and arrive in north Michigan the next morning. The largest of the steamship lines was the Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company (aka D.&C.). The D&C had a fleet of 10 ships with some in operation until the 1950s. The largest of the D&C ships was the sidewheeler City of Detroit III. It was the largest sidewheeler in the world.
Another competing line was the Chicago, Duluth & Georgian Bay Transit Company. Its flagship was the SS South American steamship. It switched from point to point passenger service to week-long Great Lake cruises. The South American was still in service on the Great Lakes as late as 1967.
Related Steamship Reading
Great Lakes Ship Building in Michigan – Fr. Edward J. Dowling was a noted Great Lakes historian, an associate professor of engineering graphics at the University of Detroit, and a special lecturer in marine travel and commercial shipping on the Great Lakes. He authored Lakers of World, published by the University of Detroit Press in 1967 and numerous journal articles on Great Lakes shipbuilding and shipping.
Ship Building in Caseville – During the lumbering era, it was imperative to have transport to major markets in the lower Great Lakes. Lumber transport to Chicago, Buffalo, and Cleveland was the norm. With an abundance of prime hardwoods, Caseville became a noted shipbuilding center in the late 1800s.
Great Lakes Cruising History – Luxurious Times – In the mid-1800s until well into the 1950s one could travel most of the lakes in style and comfort. One of the most famous and beloved ships was the SS South American. The SS South American was a Great Lakes overnight passage steamboat built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works at Ecorse, Michigan. It was built in 1913 for the Chicago, Duluth & Georgian Bay Transit Company.