Click here to visit Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online  

Great Lakes Book Shelf

Click here for requirements to list a publication


Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Lake Effect: A Deckhand's Journey
on the Great Lakes Freighters
by Richard Hill

In the early 1970s, the author sailed on four different U.S. Steel freighters as a deckhand and deckwatch. Ten years later, he enrolled in the Great Lakes Maritime Academy as a deck cadet and sailed on the 1,000-footer Columbia Star. This often funny, insightful memoir follows his voyage of self-discovery. “Lake Effect” is a great read, hard to put down and a unique view into the life of a Great Lakes sailor. If you want to know what life was like on the boats in the 1970s, this book lets you know.

Lake Effect: A Deckhand’s Journey on the Great Lakes Freighters, Richard Hill, 2008 (Gale Force Press,, $17.95, 224 pages, black and white photos)

The Real Shanty Days, Vol. III
by Wendell Wilke

 The Real Shanty Days, Vol. III (129 pages) tells the stories of the commercial fishing vessels that operated out of Algoma, Wisconsin and called Algoma their home. As commercial fishing has now ended in Algoma, this is fittingly the Final Chapter. This book replaces the former The Real Shanty Days, Vol. II. Also this edition is updated with additional information, fishing vessels not before listed with a change of photo's, etc. To order: Wendell Wilke, 1528 Steele St., Algoma, Wisconsin 54201. The price is $26 in the U.S. and $30 in Canada. For more information e-mail

Steamboats on the Great Lakes:
Two Centuries of Steamboat Travel Through Ontario's Waterways
by Maurice D. Smith

Marine Historian Maurice Smith brings together technological and social history. The story starts with the building of the first Ontario steamship, the Frontenac of 1816, and its successors that carried supplies into and rich resources out of growing communities. Near the end of the era came a fire on board the Noronic in 1949 and a successful effort to preserve the steamer Segwun. Through well-written text, paintings, photos and illustrations, Smith tells a story not only of ships, but of daring entrepreneurs and hardy sailors. The book ends with ³A Quick Tour of the Ontario Coastline of the Great Lakes² and also a handy list of ships mentioned in the book, presented as a glossary and including the vital statistics of each.

Steamboats On the Lakes: Two Centuries of Steamboat Travel Through Ontario¹s Waterways, Maurice D. Smith, 2005 (James Lorimer & Company, Publishers, $24.95, 96 pages, illustrated with photos,

Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior's
North Shore: A Diver's Guide

by Stephen B. Daniel

In "Shipwrecks", veteran diver Stephen B. Daniel, in collaboration with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society, provides in-depth tours of the many sunken ships submerged in the waters of this region of Lake Superior. Readers will not only learn the maritime history and structural details of the original vessels, they¹ll also find the stories of the wrecks themselves ­ how they happened, what actions were taken to save crews and vessels and the modern-day efforts to preserve these sites. With detailed descriptions and hundreds of photographs, charts, and diagrams that will impress even the most seasoned diver, this book should also appeal to anyone who has ever wondered what nautical mysteries lie beneath the waves of the greatest of the Great Lakes.

Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior¹s North Shore: A Diver¹s Guide, Stephen B. Daniel, 2008 (180 pages, many black and white illustrations and maps, $24.95, Minnesota Historical Society,

Wooden Boats and Iron Men: The History of Commercial Fishing in Northern Lake Michigan and Door County 1850-2005
by Trygvie Jensen

This book takes readers back in time and shows how fisheries were an integral part of Door County and Washington Island, Wis., communities, and also offers an inside look at how a fishery operates. It gives insight and a personal view of a day in the life of a fisherman and covers every facet of the industry, from the evolution of the boats, common types of gear used in the last 150 years, the species of fish that made up the great harvests, and the invader species that almost wiped out the industry in the mid to latter part of the 20th century. The data for this book was compiled through several hundred hours of research through various personal interviews with fisher families, history gathered from archives, historical societies, books, published and unpublished manuscripts, databases, periodicals, and on line sources. It¹s an exhaustive treatment of a subject that has mostly been ignored and should stand as the definitive work on the topic for some time to come.

Wooden Boats and Iron Men: The History of Commercial Fishing in Northern Lake Michigan and Door County 1850-2005, Trygvie Jensen, 2008 (458 pages hardcover, with black and white photos, $29.95,

Icebound: The Adventures of
Young George Sheldon and the
SS Michigan
by Valerie van Heest

Children and adults alike will probably enjoy this book, written and illustrated by Holland, Mich., author Valerie van Heest. The reader is there when the S.S. Michigan sinks in March 1885, and again 120 years later when a team of explorers, including van Heest, locates the sunken remains of the ship. This a true story, made all the more real by focusing on young porter George Sheldon, who risks everything to save his fellow crewmembers and their ship. "Icebound" is truly a gripping story, beautifully illustrated.

Icebound: The Adventures of Young George Sheldon and the SS Michigan, Valerie van Heest, 2008 (46 pages, many color illustrations by the author, $17.95,

by Ryan Barone

The author was just 19 when he joined the crew of the Lee A. Tregurtha in the summer of 1994 as a deckhand the crew promptly nicknamed “Gilligan.” This is a self-published memoir of that experience, recounting what it felt like to call the old steamship home. Not only is it a story of a young man coming of age on a Great Lakes steamer, it’s the story of the men and women he sailed with and the friendships he forged that will likely last a lifetime. The names have been changed, and Barone sugarcoats nothing, relating the tales of pleasant as well as unpleasant shipmates (and yes, some of the language is a bit salty). What comes through loud and clear is the author’s passion for lake boats and for what has since become his chosen profession. If you want to know what life is like on the boats, this is the book to read.

Steamboating, Ryan Barone, 2007. 215 pages, Publish America.  Copies available at for $19.95.
Visit for more information.

Freighters of Manitowoc: The Story of
Great Lakes Freighters Built in
Manitowoc, Wisconsin
by Tom Wenstadt

Using pictures culled mostly from the archives of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and the Manitowoc Company, Inc., this volume presents a detailed registry of vessels built over the span of more than 100 years in Manitowoc, WI. The photos often show, from keel laying to launch, the construction phases of many lakers, spanning the mid-1800s until the last vessel, Edward L. Ryerson, was christened in 1960. Most of the more recent pictures, all in black and white, show interior details, including engine rooms, pilothouses and guest quarters. The text is mostly confined to vessel statistics, however the cover includes a vivid color photo of the Ryerson that, along with the interior photos of this Queen of the Lakes, practically guarantee this book a built-in audience.

Freighters of Manitowoc: The Story of Great Lakes Freight Carrying Vessels Built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Tom Wenstadt, 2007; AuthorHouse, 342 pages, soft cover, many black and white photos. $19.95;

Michigan State Ferries
by Les Bagley

For half a century, the Mackinac Bridge has connected Michigan’s peninsulas. But before that, only ferries crossed the straits. This is the story of the fleet of white-hulled workhorses that linked the upper and lower peninsulas from the early 1920s until 1957, when the bridge opened.  A typical Arcadia book with two photos and captions per page, this is nonetheless a very detailed and obviously well researched account by Bagley, a lifelong ferry fan. If you remember those days (yes, hours-long backups were routine), this book makes a fascinating walk down memory lane that’s perfectly timed for the bridge’s 50th anniversary.

Michigan State Ferries. Les Bagley, 2007; Arcadia Press, 128 pages, more than 200 black and white photos, with captions. $19.99; available in stores or at

Storm Codes
by Tracy Nelson Maurer

Storm Codes presents the sights and sounds of Great Lakes shipping in the late 1960s through seven-year-old Katy’s story of hope and determination. As a fierce ice storm rips through northern Minnesota, Katy and her mother wait restlessly for her father's ship to return to their harbor in Duluth. This children’s book combines historically-based illustrations with nautical terms and descriptions. Katy even creates her own secret code to help bring her father home safely. The author’s grandfather was once captain of the steamer Edward B. Greene; this vessel is depicted on the cover. “(This) is my small tribute to Great Lakes sailors and their families, and it’s especially close to my heart because of my grandpa’s love of sailing,” Maurer said.

Storm Codes. Tracy Nelson Maurer and illustrated by Christina Rodriguez, 2007 ($8.95 paperbound or $17.95 hardcover, 40 pages, available at bookstores or online at

American Steamship Company:
Leader on the Lakes

Leader on the Lakes is the story of this venerable company and the role it has played in lakes shipping during its century-long voyage to becoming the largest domestic provider of waterborne, dry bulk, self-unloader transportation on the Great Lakes. This handsome, commemorative history book contains many photos (including shipyard, christening and on-board shots), newspaper excerpts and other tidbits detailing the highlights of ASC’s 100-year history, from its founding in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1907 to its centennial year.

American Steamship Company: Leader On The Lakes. 2007 (112 pages, softcover) For more information, please email

McDougall's Great Lakes Whalebacks
by Neel R. Zoss

Author Neel Zoss explores an often-ignored chapter in Great Lakes shipping history, the unique-to-the-lakes whaleback, invented by Capt. Alexander McDougall and manufactured at his American Steel Barge Co. more than 100 years ago. With this volume, a typical Arcadia book laid out with two black-and-white photos to a page, Zoss hopes to increase public awareness of the whalebacks’ contribution to the shipping industry, and also promote visitation to the Meteor , the last of the breed, now a museum at Superior, Wis. To this end, the book includes a special section of photos of the boat taken by crewmembers while she was in service. Captions throughout are detailed and seem solidly-researched. Many of the photos are very rare, which adds to the value for serious collectors.

McDougall’s Great Lakes Whalebacks. Neel R. Zoss, 2007, available at area bookstores, online bookstores or from Arcadia Publishing, ($19.99, 128 pages, softcover, 250 black and white photos)

Lives and Legends of the
Christmas Tree Ships
by Fred Neuschel

This is the real-life story behind one of the most popular tales of the Great Lakes – the 1912 sinking of the Rouse Simmons, using the tragic story of the schooner as a window into the robust but oft-forgotten communities that thrived along Lake Michigan from the Civil War to World War I. Memorialized in songs, poems, fiction, and even a musical, the famous ship that went down in a Thanksgiving storm while delivering Christmas trees to Chicago has long been shrouded in myth. As a result, the larger story of the captain, crew, and affected communities has often been overlooked. Fred Neuschel delves into this everyday life of camaraderie, drudgery, ambition, and adventure to create a true story that is even more fascinating than the celebrated legends.

Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships. Fred Neuschel, 2007 ($24.95, clothbound, 270 pages, available at bookstores or online at

St. Clair Shipping: Marine Highway
by Alan Mann

This is Canadian historian Alan Mann’s second such book; like the first, this volume contains some terrific boat pictures. With chapters such as “Wood and Steel: The Pioneers,” “Rivets and Steel: Metal Goliaths, “War Route: Gray With Guns” and “U.S. Steel: Uncle Sam’s Ships,” Mann does a good job touching on the huge variety of commerce seen on the St. Clair River from the 1800s to the present day. With Port Huron marking its 150th anniversary, the timing couldn’t be better.

“St. Clair Shipping: Marine Highway” Alan Mann, 2006, Looking Back Press (Vanwell Publishing, 1 Northrup Crescent, PO Box 2131, St. Catharines, ON  L2R 7S2), 128 pages, around 250 black & white photos, $22.95

Seaway Ships 2006
(24th annual edition)
edited by
Rene Beauchamp

Marine photographer Rene Beauchamp releases his 24th annual edition of his book "Seaway Ships".  The 46-page spiral bound book includes a statistical summary of all of the salties having visited the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway this past season, 19 color photos, Seaway statistics going back to 1959 and much more.  This is a limited edition book with only 150 copies being printed.

To order or for further information, contact Rene Beauchamp at .
Rene Beauchamp, 9041 Bellerive, Montreal, QC, Canada, H1L 3S5 ($19.75 US, $19.95 CN, or $27.00 CN for overseas, deduct $1.50 if ordered before Jan. 22, 2007; all prices including postage, 46 pages, spiral bound, illustrated)

Cutter Rescues
(DVD) Ric Mixter

Ric Mixter’s latest DVD examines the careers of four U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers – Escanaba (WPG-77), Hollyhock (WAGL 220), Sundew (WLB 404) and Mackinaw (WAGB 83). Anyone familiar with Mixter’s earlier productions knows his work is first class, and “Cutter Rescues” continues the tradition. Historic images of all four vessels are fascinating; particularly gripping is live footage of the Mackinaw’s involvement in the rescue of the crew of the whaleback Henry Cort, sunk at Muskegon in 1934.

“Cutter Rescues” (DVD) Ric Mixter, 2006, Available for $19.95 (add $4 s-h) from Airworthy Productions, 3060 E. Wintergreen, Saginaw, MI 48603

Icebreaker Mackinaw
by Sandra L. Planisek

This book is a wonderful documentation of the final two years of life aboard the recently retired icebreaker, her operations and the men and woman who made her work. Planisek interviewed most of Mackinaw’s crew, from her last commander to the least enlisted man, and spent many hours traveling aboard the mighty icebreaker. The volume tells the story of her crew, their duties, their relationships with other crew members and the people of the city of Cheboygan.
The book is richly illustrated with color photos, diagrams and explanations that are not found anywhere else, and is an excellent companion to Mike Fornes’ recent book that tells the history of the Mackinaw.
All profits from the book go toward historic preservation of the vessel.Order directly from GLLKA by calling 231-436-5580, or via the Web at:  or by mail to the address below.

"Icebreaker Mackinaw" Susan L. Planisek, 2006. Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, P.O. Box 219, Mackinaw City, MI 49701; (152 pages, $18.95 | Shipping $4 | MI residents $1.13 tax.)

Christmas goes to Sea
(CD) by Lee Murdock

This CD comes nicely packaged in a booklet that features more than 18 maritime illustrations. Great Lakes troubadour Lee Murdock does his usual outstanding job, this time getting listeners in the mood for the Yuletide season with 11 songs ranging from “A Maritime Christmas” to “Christmas Goes to Sea.”  Also included are Lee’s renditions of “Silent Night” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” as well as the original “When Big Mack Comes to This Harbor,” which sets down in song the traditional trip by the retired USCG cutter Mackinaw made to Chicago with Christmas trees for the needy. Let Lee be this first to wish you Merry Christmas this year.

“Christmas Goes to Sea” CD, Lee Murdock, 2005; $20. Order on-line at

USCG Mackinaw:
An Illustrated History of a Great Lakes Queen

by Mike Fornes


The timing couldn’t be better for this history of the about-to-be-retired U.S. Goast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw, and Mike Fornes, a reporter for the Cheboygan Daily Tribune, is just the man to write it. He follows the career of the Mighty Mac from building at Toledo, through service in World War II and beyond, touching on its captains, crews, the multitudes of vessels it helped over the years, and even the horrified reaction of many when it’s once-white hull was painted red. If there has been anything about the Mackinaw left out of this book, it would be hard to tell what. Written in a casual fashion, with lots of interesting recollections from crewmen and plenty of pictures showing the Mac inside and out, there’s also plenty of space devoted to the Mackinaw’s many missions beyond icebreaking, including search and rescue. The book wraps up with plans to preserve the Mackinaw at her long-time home port of Cheboygan, Mich., as a museum. Concluding pages introduce the new Mackinaw, with more photos and a description of her abilities. This is a fitting tribute to a vessel that truly deserves legendary status.

“USCG Mackinaw: An Illustrated History of a Great Lakes Queen” by Mike Fornes, 2006; Mike Fornes, Box 305, Mackinaw City, MI 49701 ($35 (tax, s-h included), 162 pages, many black and white & color photos, paperback)

Return to top.

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Copyright ©
If you know of a publication that should be listed here please mail a copy for review to :
Book Review
C/O R. LeLievre
317 S. Division St.
PMB #8
 Ann Arbor, MI. 48104

Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping