March 19, 2023
City Of Alpena

The Side-Wheel Steamer City of Alpena

The Steamer City of Alpena and the City of Mackinac were sister ships conducting service as part of the Detroit and Cleveland line. This 285-foot 2,000 horsepower sidewheel paddlewheel started service in 1893 and could carry up to 400 passengers and freight along the D&C’s “Coast Line to Mackinaw” run.

Steamer City of Alpena

Steamer City Of Alpena
City of Alpena Underway- Image Library of Congress

The ship ran the Lake Huron Route for 28 years. In 1921 she was moved to Lake Michigan and renamed the City of Saugatuck. By the late 1930s, the once-proud ship was reduced being rebuilt as a pulpwood barge hauling pulpwood and other freight. It was owned by several paper companies in its final years of service.  The ship was broken up for scrap in 1957.

D&C – Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company

Handbill Detroit And Cleveland Steamer Co.

Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company often abridged as D&C, was a passenger and freight shipping company on the Great Lakes. It operated a line of 10 ships from 1868 to 1951 and was known for its opulent ships. In 1924 the company built one of the largest steamships in the world. At 538 feet, the ship Greater Detroit was launched on September 15, 1923, primarily running sailing overnight from Detroit to Buffalo. It stayed in service until 1950.

The Start of Going up North

City Of Alpena Loc 2
City of Alpena at Dock – Image Library of Congress

 Steamship Traveling on the Great Lakes in the 1880s gave rise to the term, “Going Up North”. Prior to the railroads and automobiles. Travel by steamship has gotten luxurious. Michigan’s tourism and resort areas began to grow because steamships could take a businessman from Chicago or Detroit to join families in northern Michigan Friday afternoon and return him Monday morning rested and refreshed and ready to work.

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Paul Austin

Paul is a contributing writer for Thumbwind Publications. His most recent project is developing edgy stories and content for

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