On loan courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society, this anchor from the S.S. Greater Detroit Cruise Ship on display in front of the port has a long and intriguing history.
For a century the D&C line provided overnight passenger and freight service across Lake Eire between Detroit, Michigan and Cleveland Ohio. The D&C fleet was incorporated in 1868, and by 1909 provided overnight and vacation cruise service to the major ports on Lake Eire, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan. As the vessels of the company ages and traffic increased, newer side-wheeled vessels joined the fleet.
In 1922 the naval architect Frank E. Kirby provided the Detroit and Cleveland Steam Navigation Company with architectural drawings for two massive side-wheeled sister ships that would carry passengers and freight on the Buffalo to Detroit route. Two vessels, the S.S. Greater Detroit and the S.S. Greater Buffalo would provide continual service across lake Eire. The overall length of the vessels would be 536 feet and with the side paddle wheels the overall width was to be 96 feet.
The contract to construct these new additions to the fleet was given to the American Ship Building Company in Lorain, Ohio. The hull of the S.S. Greater Detroit was launched on September 15,1923 and then towed to Detroit where the shipyard carpenters, painters, decorators, mechanics, and artists completed the upper wooden decks of the vessel. It took almost a year to complete the vessel and the S.S. Greater Detroit entered service on August 29, 1924. The overnight boat could carry some 2,127 passengers and provide accommodations with 625 staterooms and could store 103 automobiles on the main deck.
The Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company lasted through the 1950 season, and on May 9, 1951 the company announced the suspension of service on the great lakes. The vessels were eventually sold off or scrapped. The S.S. Greater Detroit was towed out to be burned on Lake Ste. Clair in December 1956.
This bow anchor from the S.S. Greater Detroit was cut in December 1956 and abandoned on the bottom of the Detroit River. Captain William A. Hoey notified the Great Lakes Maritime Institute's Dive Team that he watched as the anchor chain was cut since there was no live steam available on the vessel to raise the anchor.
The Great Lakes Maritime Institute's Dive Team searched for this 6000 pound artifact, and finally located is some 200 feet out in the Detroit River. The anchor was recovered November 15, 2016 with the assistance of the J.W. Westcott Company, the International Shipmasters Association and the Durocher Marine Division of Kokosing Industrial. The cleaned, primed and painted anchor is now on display in front of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority.
The Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company was so proud of the Steamer the S.S. Greater Detroit that when they issued stock certificates in 1925 the image of the vessel was engraved at the top of the certificates.