May 28, 2024
City Of Cleveland Iii

The City of Cleveland III – A Technological Marvel of Great Lakes Shipping History

The City of Cleveland III was a sidewheel steamer launched in Detroit, Michigan, on January 5th, 1907. It was the largest sidewheel steamer in the world at the time, with dimensions of 444 feet in length, 96 feet and 6 inches in beam, and 22 feet in depth.

This Steamer Could Hold A Lot of Passengers

City Of Cleveland Iii At Dock
City of Cleveland III At Dock

The City of Cleveland III was built for the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company and could carry up to 5,000 passengers and 1,500 sleeping accommodations. It was a technological marvel of its time, equipped with electric passenger elevators, telephones in every stateroom, and a completely wireless system. The City of Cleveland III operated between Detroit and Cleveland during the summer months and was a popular mode of transportation for tourists. Other ships on the line with D&C included the City of Detroit III.

The Design of the City of Cleveland III:

Eminent American naval architect Frank Kirby designed the City of Cleveland III. Kirby was known for creating steamboats that were both elegant and efficient. The City of Cleveland III was no exception. It was a sidewheel steamer propelled by two large paddle wheels on either side of the vessel. The sidewheels allowed the City of Cleveland III to travel through shallow water and make sharp turns, making it an ideal vessel for the Great Lakes.

The City of Cleveland III’s Unique Features:

One of the City of Cleveland III’s unique features was its bow rudder, allowing better maneuverability in tight spaces. The bow rudder was a small rudder located at the front of the ship that could be adjusted independently of the ship’s main rudder. This allowed the ship to make tighter turns and navigate through narrow channels.

Another unique feature of the City of Cleveland III was its wireless communication system. The wireless system allowed communication with land-based stations while the ship was at sea. This significantly improved over earlier communication systems, which relied on telegraphs or signal flags.

The City of Cleveland III’s Career:

The City of Cleveland III operated between Detroit and Cleveland during summer, carrying passengers and cargo. It was a popular mode of transportation for tourists who wanted to travel between the two cities. In 1912, the ship was renamed the City of Cleveland III. It continued to operate until it collided with the Norwegian freighter Ravnefjell in dense fog on Lake Huron off Harbor Beach, Michigan, on June 25th, 1950. Five people aboard the City of Cleveland III were killed in the collision.

Following the collision, the City of Cleveland III was laid up in Detroit for four years until it caught fire on October 20th, 1954. Most of the ship was scrapped at Sandwich, Ontario, from 1954-1955. Its hull was towed to Buffalo to be converted into a crane barge for building St. Lawrence Seaway. However, this conversion never occurred, and the hull was eventually broken up in 1956.

City Of Cleveland Underway
City of Cleveland Underway

The first noteworthy event involving the City of Cleveland III occurred in 1912 when the ship was renamed the City of Cleveland II to City of Cleveland III. The name change was made to avoid confusion with another ship named the City of Cleveland.

One of the most significant events in the ship’s history occurred on June 25, 1950, when it collided with the Norwegian freighter Ravnefjell in dense fog on Lake Huron off Harbor Beach, Michigan. The collision resulted in the deaths of five people aboard the City of Cleveland III, and the ship was laid up in Detroit for four years following the accident.

In addition to these events, the City of Cleveland III was often in the news for its role as a popular mode of transportation for tourists traveling between Detroit and Cleveland. The ship was a technological marvel of its time, and its large size and luxurious amenities made it a popular choice for travelers.

Noteworthy Dates In The Timeline Of The City Of Cleveland III

  • January 5, 1907: The City of Cleveland III is launched in Detroit, Michigan.
  • May 13, 1907: The City of Cleveland III catches fire while fitted out for service.
  • May 1908: The City of Cleveland III enters service.
  • 1912: The ship is renamed City of Cleveland III.
  • June 25, 1950: The City of Cleveland III collides with the Norwegian freighter Ravnefjell in dense fog on Lake Huron off Harbor Beach, Michigan, killing five people aboard the ship.
  • October 20, 1954: The City of Cleveland III catches fire and is laid up in Detroit for four years.
  • 1954-1955: Most ship is scrapped at Sandwich, Ontario.
  • 1956: The City of Cleveland III hull is broken up in Buffalo, New York.

The Story Of A Famous Captain Of The City Of Cleveland III – Thomas Greene

Captain Tom Greene was one of the most beloved figures on the Great Lakes during the mid-20th century. He was born in 1897 in Cleveland, Ohio, and began his career on the Great Lakes as a porter on the City of Cleveland III. He worked his way up through the ranks and eventually became the ship’s captain, a position he held for many years.

Greene was known for his colorful personality and his love of practical jokes. He was also a skilled mariner and was highly respected by his crew and his peers. During World War II, Greene was called to serve in the Navy. He was eventually given command of the USS Muskegon, a minesweeper, and served in the Pacific theater.

After the war, Greene returned to the City of Cleveland III and continued to captain the ship until it was decommissioned. He then continued to command other vessels on the Great Lakes, including the SS South American and the SS South American III.

In addition to his captain work, Greene was a popular public figure. He was often called upon to give speeches and was featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles. He was also the subject of a book, “The Tom Greene Story: Memories and Anecdotes from a Lifetime on the Great Lakes,” by his daughter.

Greene died in 1982 at the age of 85. He is remembered as one of the greatest captains in the history of Great Lakes shipping and as a beloved figure by those who knew him.

Video: SS City of Cleveland III ~ A Grand Side Wheeler

Final Thoughts on the City of Cleveland III

The City of Cleveland III was a technological marvel of its time. It was the largest sidewheel steamer in the world when it was launched in 1907 and had several unique features that made it an efficient and popular mode of transportation. Although its career was cut short by a collision with a freighter, the City of Cleveland III remains an important piece of the Great Lakes’ shipping history.

Avatar Of Michaela Nolte

Michaela Nolte

Michaela is a history buff and loves to export historical markers and old buildings and seeks stories about Michigan and Great Lakes history. When she is not writing, you can find her with a good book sipping wine on the beach.

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