BY FRANK KOOTSILLAS
The City of Cleveland III was a ship built in 1907 at the Wyandotte Ship Building Co. in Wyandotte. Her length was over 400 feet, making her the largest paddle-wheel steamer in the world and one of the most luxurious. She was built to carry 4,500 passengers, with sleeping accommodations for 1,500, with additional capacity to carry freight.
Unfortunately, just before her scheduled launch on June 30, 1907, she was heavily damaged by a fire while still in dry dock. Her elaborate interior was almost destroyed. After the reconstruction was completed in 1908, she made her first trial trip on April 22, 1908 and her maiden voyage on June 4, 1908 to Sault Ste Marie. She joined her sister ships of the D&C Fleet in Detroit. They were the Eastern States, the Western States, The Greater Detroit, The Greater Buffalo, and The City of Detroit III.
The City of Cleveland III traveled the Great Lakes profitably for 42 years, until that fateful day of June 26, 1950. On that day, she was heavily damaged in a collision with a Norwegian freighter, The Ravenfjell, in heavy fog off Harbor Beach, Michigan. There were eight fatalities and many injuries. Among the dead were the Benton Harbor Police Chief and the former Mayor of Benton Harbor. This was a special cruise chartered by the Benton Harbor Chamber of Commerce. It was headed for Detroit to watch the Detroit Tigers play the New York Yankees that afternoon. [Read more…]