The Pere Marquette Marine Fleet

Updated: 01-SEP-2023

Lake Michigan car ferry "S.S. City of Midland 41"
Carferry City of Midland 41, arriving
Ludington in 1976
Photo by Max Hanley

This roster describes, in a general fashion, all of the boats owned and used by the Pere Marquette on Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. This roster does not include the car ferries purchased after the PM's 1947 merger into the C&O.

This roster is divided into sections by general type:

Break-Bulk Fleet

The first boats used by a PM predecessor were chartered package steamers operating between Ludington, Michigan and Sheboygan, Wisconsin under contract to the Flint & Pere Marquette. From the inception of this service in 1875 until 1883, the F&PM chartered steamers from others, with the Goodrich Transit Company providing vessels from 1876 until the delivery of the F&PM's first freighters, F&PM No. 1 and F&PM No. 2. During those eight years, service expanded to several Wisconsin ports, with Milwaukee handling by far the greatest traffic.

The F&PM enlarged its fleet by taking delivery of three more steamers in 1887, 1888 and 1890. By 1897, though, the laborious manual transfer of cargo from freight cars to the package steamers was proving to be time-consuming and costly, so the F&PM invested in its first car ferry, the steel Pere Marquette, which was designed to transport entire freight cars, obviating the need to unload and reload cars at the ports. The arrival of the Pere Marquette permitted the F&PM to sell F&PM No. 1 to Hurson Transportation Company in 1896.

Following the Pere Marquette merger in 1900, the remaining members of the break-bulk fleet were renamed from F&PM No. 2 through 5 to Pere Marquette No. 2 through 5.

Vessel Built In
Out of
Pere Marquette 2 1882 1900 1903 1903, sold; 1919, sank in Lake Erie
Pere Marquette 3 1887 1900 1903 1903, sold; 1921, wrecked in ice; 1921, burned as scrap
Pere Marquette 4 1888 1900 1903 1903, sold; 1923, wrecked in collision with PM 17; 1924, converted to yacht club club house; 1937, scuttled in Lake Michigan
Pere Marquette 5 1890 1900 1906 1906, sold; 1917, sank in Atlantic Ocean

River Fleet

River ferries PM 10 and PM 12 (right) at Port HuronThe PM's river fleet connected its Canadian operations with those in Michigan. These vessels connected Port Huron, Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario. When the C&O arranged to use the Grand Trunk Western's tunnel at Port Huron and the New York Central's tunnel at Detroit, ferry traffic at these locations dropped precipitously, with the ferries remaining in use only to transport cars carrying hazardous cargoes and cars too large to fit through the tunnels. Improvements to the tunnels during the 1980s at Detroit, and the 1990s at Port Huron, permitted these few remaining cars to be moved through the tunnels, so the ferry operations were discontinued.

Vessel Built In
Out of
International 1872 1903 1927 Built for Grand Trunk Rwy. as their second boat of this name; 1934, sold and converted to barge; 1968, scrapped.
Pere Marquette 14 1904 1904 post-merger 1957, scrapped
Pere Marquette 12 1927 1927 post-merger 1969, sold to Canadian National, renamed St. Clair (2nd) and used at Sarnia; 1980s, converted to barge; 1995, laid-up; 1997, sold for use as pulpwood barge in Africa
Pere Marquette 10 1945 1945 post-merger 1974, converted to barge; 1995, laid-up at Port Huron.

Lake Michigan Fleet

The PM's Lake Michigan fleet of car ferries connected its home port of Ludington with the Wisconsin ports at Milwaukee, Manitowoc and Kewaunee, and, briefly, the port at Manistique, Michigan. Its marine operations were assumed by the C&O at the time of the 1947 merger.

Vessel Built In
Out of
Pere Marquette 15 1896 1900 1935 Built as Pere Marquette; 1901, renamed "on paper"; 1924, renamed "on bow"; 1935, scrapped
Pere Marquette 16 1895 1900 1914 Built as Shenango No. 2; 1898, purchased and renamed Muskegon by Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western; 1901, renamed Pere Marquette 16; 1917, sold, converted to barge; 1922, sank in Lake Superior
Pere Marquette 17 1901 1901 1940 1940, sold, converted to auto ferry City of Petoskey at Straits of Mackinac; 1961, scrapped
Pere Marquette 18 (1st) 1902 1902 1910 September 9, 1910, sank in Lake Michigan while in PM service, 29 lives lost
Pere Marquette 19 1903 1903 1940 1940, sold, converted to barge; present disposition unknown
Pere Marquette 20 1903 1903 1938 1938, sold, converted to auto ferry City of Munising at Straits of Mackinac; 1959, converted to floating warehouse; 1973, scrapped
Pere Marquette 18 (2nd) 1911 1911 post-merger 1952, retired to use as floating warehouse; 1955, scrapped
Pere Marquette 21 1924 1924 post-merger 1973, sold, converted to barge; 1980, sank in Caribbean Sea
Pere Marquette 22 1924 1924 post-merger 1973, sold; present status unknown
City of Saginaw 31 1929 1929 post-merger 1971, caught fire while undergoing overhaul, retired: 1973, scrapped
City of Flint 32 1930 1930 post-merger 1969, sold, converted to barge Roanoke; 1994, laid-up at Toledo
City of Midland 41 1941 1941 post-merger 1983, sold; 1988, laid-up; 1997, converted to barge PM 41, mated to tug Undaunted. Currently based out of Ludington

The S.S. City of Midland 41, leaving Ludington in 1941.

Lake Erie Fleet

The Lake Erie fleet consisted of a series of boats operated under the name of the Marquette & Bessemer Dock & Navigation Company, following the PM's acquisition of the Lake Erie & Detroit River Railway in 1903. This was a joint operation in conjunction with the Bessemer & Lake Erie, connecting Conneaut, Ohio with Port Stanley and Erieau, Ontario. Car ferry service to Erieau ended in 1927. Car ferry service between Conneaut and Port Stanley was abandoned in 1932.

The collier Alexander Leslie, under C&O ownership of the Lake Erie Navigation Company, Ltd., called at the rail-boat transfer dock at Erieau into the 1960s.

Vessel Built In
Out of
Shenango No. 1 1895 1903 1904 1904, caught fire while stuck in ice, burned to total loss
Marquette & Bessemer No. 1 (collier) 1903 1903 1936 1936, sold, converted to bulk freighter; 1961, converted to barge; 1982, scrapped
Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 (1st) 1905 1905 1909 December 7, 1909, sank on Lake Erie with 31 lives lost
Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 (2nd) 1910 1910 1932 1932, laid-up; 1936, served as show boat; 1937 laid-up; 1942, sold, converted to barge; 1948, renamed Lillian; 1972, converted to floating crane, scrapped during the 1990s.

Roster compiled by Bob Vande Vusse

More detailed information on Great Lakes car ferries, particularly the PM/C&O fleet, is found on Max Hanley's Carferries of the Great Lakes Web site, at .


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