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by David Francey & Mike Ford
(Audio CD)

In May 2005, Canadian singer-songwriters David Francey and Mike Ford were granted the opportunity to spend two weeks aboard the M/V Algoville. They sailed from Montreal to Thunder Bay and back along the St. Lawrence Seaway and the inland seas of the Great Lakes. This CD is a collection of songs inspired by that trip. Songs include “Banks of the Seaway,” “The Chief Engineer,” “When You’re the Skip” and “Climbing Up to the Soo.” If you’re a fan of Lee Murdock and other Great Lakes minstrels, “Seaway” is an equally excellent collection of thoughtful, well-played music.

AUDIO CD: Seaway; David Francey and Mike Ford, 2009; 16 songs; $23;

Wilson Freighter Observer's

by Christopher Wilson

Log your freighter and other vessel observations in this handy, spiral-bound booklet that can be used on its own, or as a companion to “Know Your Ships.” This book can be used in two ways, one as a simple log. The other way is to use the indexing function to log ships in such as way that you can track all of your sightings of a ship and also accommodate name and ownership changes. Sample pages are included to get vessel enthusiasts off on the right foot.

Wilson Freighter Observer’s Logbook; Christopher Wilson. 50 sheets duplex, 2 forms per sheet allowing 200 observations per book; $14.95; Order at

The Wheelsman
by Ric Mixter

Author Ric Mixter invites readers to experience four shipwrecks through the eyes of the men who were at the helm. Len Gabrysiak wheeled the Cedarville when it was cut down in a thick fog in the Mackinac Straits in 1965. Lloyd Belcher was one of the 17 men rescued from the Novadoc, lost in Lake Michigan’s Armistice Day storm of 1940. Helmsman Ray O’Malley was only at the wheel for a few second when a mysterious explosion sank the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Escanaba with 100 of its crew. Revisit the loss of these vessels, and take a harrowing ride through the Great Storm of 1913 as Ed Kanaby reflects on the tempest that he and his ship survived only because he beached his ship in lower Lake Huron. It’s fascinating to read about these tragedies first-hand and from a point of view not usually recorded.

The Wheelsman, Ric Mixter; 2010; 194 pages, softcover, many black and white photos; $19.95.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2009

“Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping,” last published in 2005 by the late John Greenwood, is back.  Harbor House Publishers acquired Greenwood's Guide and Lake Boats earlier this year and, after a complete revision and redesign, has released the 2009 edition.  The book’s 26 tabbed sections offer a vast array of details on Fleets, Compartment Capacities, Fuel Used by Vessels and Horsepower, Ore Docks, Grain Elevators, Coal Docks, Shipyards & Drydocks, Steamship Agents / Brokers / Forwarders / Stevedores and more.  There’s a lot of information here that’s not easily found elsewhere, which makes it valuable for industry professionals as well as serious ship fans.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2009, (Harbor House Publishers Inc., 221 Water St., Boyne City, MI 49712; $85; available from the publisher at in book form as well as on CD or as a searchable PDF)

Twilight of the Great Lakes Steamer:
The Last Steam Powered Freighters
on the Great Lakes

Raymond A. Bawal, Jr.

Steam-powered freighters, once the mainstay of the Great Lakes fleet, are rapidly dwindling in number. It may come as a surprise to know that there were only 20 active carriers that are steam powered by the end of the 2008 shipping season. This amply-illustrated volume documents those that are still in service, from the 1906-built St. Marys Challenger, to the Canadian Leader, built in 1967. Black and white photos, mostly current views rather than those of a more historical nature, show the vessels at work. If you want detailed individual histories of each of these 20 vessels, plus a brief overview of steam power on the Lakes, this well-researched book provides it.

Twilight of the Great Lakes Steamer: The Last Steam Powered Freighters on the Great Lakes, Raymond A. Bawal, Jr., 2009 (108 pages, many photographs, Inland Expressions, $19.95; available at

Great Lakes Shipping Ports & Cargoes
by Patrick D. Lapinski

The mix of black and white and color photographs in this book show a slice of industrial America rarely seen by the general public. These images, contemporary and historic, take readers to all of the primary loading and unloading ports from Lake Superior to Lake Erie. View how cargoes are loaded at the grain terminals of Thunder Bay, the ore docks of Minnesota’s north shore or the Midwest Energy coal dock in Superior. See where the ships and cargoes go on the Cuyahoga River, the Ford plant on Detroit’s Rouge River or inside the heart of the U.S. Steel Works in Gary.

Photographer and historian Lapinski (and the other photographers represented here) has a good eye for composition, and the accompanying text is well-written and informative. For a behind-the-scenes look at lake boats and the ports they serve, this book gets the job done.

Great Lakes Shipping Ports & Cargoes, Patrick D. Lapinski, 2009 (160 pages, $34.95, Iconografix, P.O. Box 446, Hudson, WI 545016, )

Purvis Brothers Fisheries:
A Family Tradition
by G.I. "Buck" Longhurst

Canadian historian Buck Longhurst offers a look at the five Purvis brothers of Sault Ste, Marie, Ont., the fishing enterprises they created, and the various fishing vessels they employed. Many rare photographs help bring the Purvis story to life in a very personal way, aided by a handy family tree. What a life this must have been, and it is captured very handily here.

Purvis Brothers Fisheries: A Family Tradition, G.I. “Buck” Longhurst, 2009 (88 pages, many photos; $25; available from the Gore Bay & Western Manitoulin Museum, P.O. Box 222, Gore Bay, Ont. P0P 1H0)

The View From the Harbor
by Lee Murdock (CD)

inger/songwriter and guitarist Lee Murdock has released his 16th CD, containing more of his signature Great Lakes-themed tunes. There are some tasty treats here, including the bluesy, spoken-word “The Alva C. Dinky of the Tin Stack Fleet” and “The Lady of Old Maumee Bay,” celebrating the restoration of the Toledo Harbor lighthouse. “Up Anchor” is another traditional tune from the Ivan Walton Collection, “Eight Bells” and “Up Anchor” are jaunty treats and “Just Five Minutes” tells the story of a sailor who fell from the steamer Buckeye a few years back, and survived the swim to shore. 

Strong songs by Murdock and others, coupled with Sue Demel’s harmony vocals and the backing of a tight, but never overpowering band, make this CD a treat. Play it while chasing boats, or heading for your next lighthouse tour. It’ll get you in the mood, guaranteed.

The View From the Harbor, 2009, Lee Murdock (CD, $15, 11 songs,

Life on Freighters of the Great Lakes

Nelson "Mickey" Haydamacker
with Alan D. Millar

With numerous photographs and engaging stories, “Deckhand” offers an insider's view of duties both mundane and intriguing performed by deckhands on Great Lakes cargo vessels.  Boisterous saloons, ice jams, and the daily drudgery of soogeying – cleaning dirt and grime off the ships – are just a few of the experiences Mickey Haydamacker had as a young deckhand working on freighters of the Great Lakes in the early 1960s. Haydamacker sailed five Interlake Steamship Company boats, from the modern Elton Hoyt 2nd to the ancient coal-powered Colonel James Pickands, with its backbreaking tarp-covered hatches.

“Deckhand” will appeal to shipping buffs and to anyone interested in Great Lakes shipping and maritime history as it chronicles the adventures of living on the lakes from the seldom-seen view of a deckhand.  For those who are interested in the subject, “Deckhand” is hard to put down.

Deckhand: Life on Freighters of the Great Lakes, Nelson "Mickey" Haydamacker with Alan D. Millar, 2009; 152 pages, with 32 color photographs; $18.95;

The St. Lawrence Seaway:
Fifty Years and Counting
by D'Arcy Jenish

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation announces the publication of “The St. Lawrence Seaway: Fifty Years and Counting,” an official history of the waterway’s first five decades. The corporation commissioned the book to commemorate the Seaway’s 50th  anniversary in 2009.  The 120-page book is roughly half text/half photos, with all the images  selected to illustrate and enhance the text. Toronto-based writer D’Arcy Jenish spent two years on the project. “The St. Lawrence Seaway” captures every major development and setback of the first 50 years and concludes with a snapshot of the future as seen by shipping company executives, shippers and the SLSMC itself.  

This is the first time that the complete history of the Seaway has been compiled in one volume. The SLSMC has printed a limited number of copies in English and French, but the corporation has also approved a commercial press run of the English edition.
The St. Lawrence Seaway: Fifty Years and Counting, D'Arcy Jenish, 2009 (Order direct from D’Arcy Jenish, 15 Dagwell Cres., Ajax, ON, L1T 3M8; $50.00 incl. book, GST, mailer & postage within Canada; 120 Pages)

Buckets and Belts:
Evolution of the Great Lakes

by William Lafferty &
Valerie van Heest

On a warm summer afternoon in 1927 off South Haven, Mich., an old barge began taking on water. Realizing their vessel would inevitably sink, the crew escaped to the accompanying tug, and watched as their ship plunged beneath Lake Michigan. Its loss unlamented, its career unheralded, it slumbered on the sandy bottom in the same obscurity that had shrouded its earlier work days as a steam freighter sailing the Great Lakes. However, the vessel’s anonymity ended in 2006 when Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates located the sunken wreck of the Hennepin. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the world’s first self-unloading vessel.
“Buckets and Belts: Evolution of the Great Lakes Self-Unloader” traces more than a century of innovative technological advancements in the conveying of bulk cargos from the Hennepin’s conversion to a self-unloader in 1902 to today’s 1,000-foot long lakers. What’s surprising is how little the actual design of the unloading equipment has changed over the decades.
Enhanced with the most comprehensive collection of self-unloader images ever published and dozens of underwater photographs, the book also explores the lives of the people who designed these vessels, the crewmen who sailed them and the self-unloaders that went to the bottom of the lakes. This book is long overdue.

Buckets and Belts: Evolution of the Great Lakes Self-Unloader, William Lafferty and Valerie van Heest, 2009 (In-depth Editions, ; $24.95, 320 Pages, 275 photographs)

A Great Lakes Adventure:
The Journey Begins

by Edward Spicuzza

A Stern View

Great Lakes sailor Edward L.M. Spicuzza has come out with both a self-published book and a DVD that offers a panoramic, insider’s view of the shipping scene.

The book, “A Great Lakes Adventure: The Journey Begins,” is a photographic journal of his Spicuzza’s travels from one end of the Great Lakes to the other. As such, it contains around 150 large and small images of the passing freighter parade, from routine passages to stunning sunsets and ice battles. There are even a few lighthouses thrown in for good measure.

“A Stern View” offers some great footage, the kind you can only get from working aboard the long ships, in this case vessels of the Oglebay Norton Co. and American Steamship Co. Spicuzza has a good eye for angles and movement, and his composition is first rate. The video shows the vessels in all kind of weather; the ice and foul weather shots are particularly impressive, as are those taken from atop the Mackinac Bridge. The soundtrack features well-chosen songs performed by Lee Murdock, Jill Jack and Carl Behrend.

Great Lakes Adventure: The Journey Begins, Edward Spicuzza, 2008 (64 pages, many color photos, $24.95) &
A Stern View, Edward L.M. Spicuzza, 2008 (DVD, 60 minutes, $19.95)
Order both from Spicuzza’s Web site,

The Great Lakes Engineering Works:
The Shipyard And Its Vessels

by Marine Historical Society of Detroit

The Marine Historical Society of Detroit has released it latest book, a complete history of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, a prominent Detroit area shipbuilder.  Over 500 pages, this hard-cover book took nearly four years to complete and is divided into two major sections, which are amply illustrated with more than 1,000 photographs.

The first section depicts GLEW’s three shipyards and their development at St. Clair, Ashtabula and the Detroit area from virtual marshlands to one of the most successful shipbuilding yards on the Great Lakes, until its demise in 1961.The second section is dedicated to the 300 plus vessels that were built by GLEW’s three yards, describing each vessel’s history in detail with most being accompanied by an outstanding number of photographs, many of which have never been published and are very rare.

The Great Lakes Engineering Works: The Shipyard And Its Vessels, the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 2008.  This book is a small run limited edition and can only be ordered directly from the Society. The cost of the book is $59.95 in U.S. funds plus shipping and handling of $5 to U.S. addresses or $12 to Canadian addresses. Order on line or send check or money order to Robert Pocotte, 606 Laurel Ave., Port Clinton, OH  43452-2127.

So Terrible a Storm
by Curt Brown

It was Thanksgiving 1905 and 31 ships were on Lake Superior, making the season's last run. What none of the sailors knew until it was too late was that they would soon face the worst storm ever to hit the Great Lake, a storm that nearly half of their number would not survive. This is the story of that fateful storm, and of one of the worst shipping disasters in the nation's history. Readers are taken aboard the steamer Mataafa as it crashes into Duluth's piers, half of the crew freezing to death overnight as the other half survives by dancing through the dark around bathtubs set ablaze with scuttled pieces of the ship. Next, go aboard the steamer Ira H. Owen, crashing into the cliff where Split Rock Lighthouse would later be built, too late for these men. This, a story drawn from the accounts of witnesses and survivors,  is a tale of people pitted against the elements, of a disaster so extreme that, in its wake, weather forecasting, shipbuilding and even compass-reading were changed forever.

So Terrible a Storm, Curt Brown, 2008, Voyageur Press, 320 pages, hardbound, many black and white photos, $25

Capt'n Willie's Great Lakes Adventures:
Henry Ford's Maritime Heritage Part 1
1918 - 1927

Don’t let the pirate on the cover fool you – this new DVD, which uses historical film and live commentary to chronicle the maritime activities of Henry Ford, is a fascinating glimpse into the building of Ford Motor Co.’s huge River Rouge, Mich., complex and the launching of a fleet of freighters to serve it. Capt’n Willie provides the nautical commentary (the one-hour DVD is aimed to educate kids as well as to inform adults), interpreting footage that includes the excavation of the slip at the Rouge, the assembly line that produced Eagle Boats for the U. S. Navy, construction of a Hulett ore unloader at the Rouge dock, Great Lakes freighters stockpiling raw materials at the dock, the blast furnace operation to make iron, the launching of the freighter Henry Ford II in 1924 at Lorain, Ohio, the launching of the Benson Ford in 1924 at River Rouge, the Ford family yacht Sialia, the creation of the Ford Fleet of tug boats and more. This the first of at least three such documentaries, made possible by an abundance of high-quality footage shot by Ford photographers, and the help of Detroit/Great Lakes historian John Polacsek.

Capt’n Willie’s Great Lakes Adventures: Henry Ford’s Maritime Heritage Part 1 1918-1927, DVD, 2008, Captain of the Fleet, Box 24697, Detroit, MI 48224 or, $24.95 + $5 s-h)

Summer Dreams:
The Story of Bob-Lo Island
by Patrick Livingston

Patrick Livingston, author of “Eight Steamboats,” continues to delve into Great Lakes history, this time examining the Bob-Lo island amusement park south of Detroit that operated for nearly 100 years. Mention the word “Bob-lo” to longtime Detroiters and get ready for the string of memories that might well be released, recollections that will probably include the trip to the island on one of two steamboats, the Columbia or the Ste. Claire. This is the whole story, including not only the good times to be had on the island, but also the problems that doomed the park after the Detroit riots of the mid-1960s. Anyone seeking an example of how local history ought to be told need look no farther than “Summer Dreams.”

Summer Dreams: The Story of Bob-Lo Island, Patrick Livingston, 2008 (Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Mich., $21.95, 208 pages, many black and white photos)

Ninety Years Crossing Lake Michigan:
The History of the Ann Arbor Car Ferries
by Grant Brown, Jr.

Surprising as it may seem, landlocked Ann Arbor’s name once graced the high bows of a number of staunch Great Lakes vessels. In 1892, the Ann Arbor car ferries – part of James Ashley’s Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Michigan Railroad – began a cross-lake service to Wisconsin that many deemed impossible, especially in the winter when ice made West Michigan harbors nearly impenetrable. 
This volume details the battles ships (from the small Ann Arbor No. 1 to the powerful Ann Arbor No. 5, dubbed “The Bull of the Woods”) and men fought for nearly 100 years, not only against ice but fierce storms as well. In later years, another battle was fought, this one economic, that led to the suspension of service by the Ann Arbor boats in 1982. More than the story of ships and trains, “Ninety Years” is also the story of men, from the pioneering Ashley to those who commanded and crewed the ships, fighting battles with Lake Michigan in the years before radar and ship-to-shore radar.
The book is very detailed, and should be considered an authoritative work on the topic. But it isn’t so dry that readers can fail to be moved by the thought of those huge Ann Arbor steamships smashing through the ice, smoke billowing and whistles moaning. Lots of black and white photos help tell the story of the days when Ann Arbor’s name was one to be reckoned with on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Ninety Years Crossing Lake Michigan: The History of the Ann Arbor Car Ferries, Grant Brown, Jr., 2008 (University of Michigan Press,, 284 pages, $24.95)

Sailor Girl
by Sheree-Lee Olson

“Sailor Girl” is a fictional coming-of-age tale set on the grain boats of Canada’s Great Lakes in the summer of 1981. It follows the literal and figurative journey of Kate McLeod, a rebellious photography student looking to earn money for school. She strikes out from her safe suburban origins to the closed world of the lakes and learns what it is to be tested to her limits. Using salty dialogue and gripping description, the book renders a sharp portrait of life lived on the edges of society. It is also a love story in which a middle-class girl finds a deep connection with the unruly young men and tough-minded women of the lakes. “Sailor Girl” is a uniquely Canadian story, one that preserves a vanishing part of the Great Lakes’ heritage.

Sailor Girl, Sheree-Lee Olson, 2008 (The Porcupine’s Quill, Inc.,, 288 pages, $27.95)

Ships of the St. Clair River
by Raymond A. Bawal, Jr.

In this volume, 20 current Great Lakes vessels are described with detailed histories. Meant to showcase a cross-section of ships in operation on the Great Lakes, this book includes vessels ranging in size from the small Yankcanuck to the huge Paul R. Tregurtha. Many of the pictures were taken in the St. Clair area by the author – the historic Maumee graces the cover. The author has done his research, and it shows.

Ships of the St. Clair River, Raymond A. Bawal, Jr., 2008 (Inland Expressions, St. Clair, Mich., $19.95, many black and white photos, )

Collision Under the Bridge
by Jon Paul Michaels &
Brent Michaels

The collision between the steamers Sidney E. Smith Jr. and Parker Evans took place June 5. 1972, near the Blue Water Bridge spanning the U.S. and Canada.  This is a detailed volume about the accident that led to the establishment of both Sarnia Traffic and one-way traffic under the Blue Water Bridge. This book follows the story through the histories of both vessels, the days leading up to the collision, the final moments before the crash and the monumental salvage effort to clear the channel. It's a fascinating look at a Great Lakes shipwreck that happened not so long ago.

Collision Under the Bridge, Jon Paul Michaels and Brent Michaels, 2008 (Bullhead Publishing, 86 pages; many black and white photos, drawings; $19.95)

Centennial: Steaming Through
the American Century

by Chris Winters

Great Lakes marine photographer and historian Chris Winters spent five years creating a vivid record of life aboard steamer St. Marys Challenger as she approached the centennial anniversary of her maiden voyage in 2006. Reportedly the oldest operational freight ship in the world, the Challenger began her remarkable freshwater career on the Great Lakes on April 28, 1906 – six years before the launch of the Titanic. This is a stunning, hardcover record of an extraordinary ship, beautifully photographed and lovingly produced to exacting standards, with text capturing perfectly the magic that is a steamboat in action. Books like this are rare – despite the price, don’t leave this one on the shelves!

Centennial: Steaming Through the American Century, Chris Winters, 2008. 247 pages, hardcover, many current and historic photos, $50 + s-h, order at  or 414-257-4168

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