Winter Power on the Detroit River
The “Detroit” of the Michigan Central Ferry has just finished crossing the frozen Detroit River and now moves into a slip to unload rail cars and two new Buffalo Pitts steam tractors. The “Detroit” was a car ferry that transferred rail cars across the Detroit River for several railroads during 1905.
The “Detroit” was build by Great Lakes Engineering Works. The steamer was equipped with four separate screws, a pair forward and a pair aft. She had rudders fore and aft, and loaded from the bow only. The screws could be used in both directions and loaded and unloaded upstream due to the strong current of the river. She had a capacity of 24 freight cars or 12 passenger cars. These steamers were built to break ice and were used year around and were an economical success for the railroads and ferry companies. The railroads eventually bought out most of the ferry companies. These car ferries pioneered the concepts in ship design and icebreaking techniques. Bow propellers and steel spoon-shaped, and tough steel bows made the rail ferries the best icebreakers on the lakes for many years until the dedicated U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers were assigned during World War II.
Ref: B/W photo from Library of Congress. Other info. from “The Great Lakes Car Ferries” by George W. Hilton.
The Library of Congress is a great source of free historical photos.
This work has been a love of art, railroad and ship history. “Can you feel the cold, hear the powerful steam engines and smell the smoke ?” Enjoy.
The ferry ran between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.
The distance across the river is a half a mile and the time to cross was 10 to 12 minutes including landing.
The "Detroit" was 308 feet long with a 64 ft beam. She had four compound steam engines, four Scotch a Boilers with a working pressure of 100 to 165 psi. The coal bunkers carried 300T of coal.
It is amazing the wealth of information it has to offer. I enjoyed your DeviantArt site.
a great site of transportation art. Thank You.