Click on image for a full screen view

 Port Huron, MI.

Marc VanderMeulen

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- S.T. Crapo --

By George Wharton

Only the second bulk cement carrier built from the keel up, the S.T. Crapo was built as hull # 256 in 1927 by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI.  The vessel was launched and christened July 7, 1927 for the Huron Transportation Co., division of Huron Portland Cement Co., Detroit, MI, becoming the first carrier to date to be launched with her boilers lit and the second self-unloader of her type ever built.  The first bulk cement carrier to be constructed from the keel up was the John W. Boardman (renamed Lewis G. Harriman in 1965) built for the same owners in 1923.  The S.T. Crapo was named in honor of Mr. Stanford Tappan Crapo, co-founder with Mr. J.B. Ford of the Huron Portland Cement Co. in 1907.  Mr. Crapo served as the company's secretary until his death on January 26, 1939.  The S.T. Crapo sailed as the fleet's flagship from her launch date through until 1965 when the J.A.W. Iglehart entered service assuming the title.

The S.T. Crapo was powered by a yard-built, triple expansion 3 cylinder 1,800 i.h.p. (1,343 KW) steam engine with 3 coal-fired Scotch boilers with a heating surface of 3,790 sq. ft. (352 sq. m.).  Her boilers were converted from coal to oil during the 1994/95 winter lay-up at Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, WI.  At the time of her conversion, the venerable carrier was the last hand-fired coal burner on the Great Lakes.  The S.T. Crapo's unloading system is of an earlier design with 4 tunnel conveyors but no airslides and can unload up to 500 tons (508 mt) per hour.  The vessel is capable of carrying up to 8,900 tons (9,043 mt) of bulk cement products at a mid-summer draft of 21' 08 1/4" (6.61m), the cargo being contained in 6 compartments.  A bow thruster was added during the winter lay-up of 1963/64 at Cleveland, OH by G & W Welding Co.

For many years, the S.T. Crapo was a perennial season opener for many Great Lakes ports with cargoes of cement products from Alpena, MI.  As an example, at the beginning of the 1970 season, the vessel left her lay-up berth at Ecorse, MI on March 15, opened Alpena, MI on March 17, opened Detroit on March 19, then Cleveland on March 26 and finally opening the Straits of Mackinac on March 29.  Of note, the cement carrier lost the use of her rudder about 6 miles west of Gull Island on March 30, 1974.  Tugs John M. Selvick and Lauren Castle cam to the stricken vessel's aid.  Then, on June 29, 1980 while off Ludington, MI, a steam line burst seriously burning a crewmember.

Throughout her tenure on the Lakes, the S.T. Crapo has remained with the same fleet even though there had been several parent company, fleet and vessel ownership changes.  The year 1996 was perhaps the most traumatic in the venerable steamer's history.  With the entry into service of the new articulated tug/cement barge Jacklyn M (now G.L. Ostrander)/Integrity that year with different owners and management, the S.T. Crapo was removed from active service on September 4, 1996 and docked at the Lafarge facilities at Green Bay, WI for use as a stationary cement storage barge.

The S.T. Crapo remains at Green Bay appearing as if she is ready to sail though her propeller has been removed.  The vessel was temporarily returned to "active" service in 2005 when, on October 13, the "G" tug Ohio towed the  vessel to Alpena, MI to pick up a load of cement for return to Green Bay.  The loaded vessel was returned to her berth at Green Bay on October 29.  The trip was the result of the Inland Lakes active steamer Alpena being temporarily removed from service for repairs.  Today, the old cement carrier is owned by Chrysler Capitol Corp., c/o and bareboat chartered to Inland Lakes Management Inc., Alpena, MI under a contract of affreightment with Lafarge North America Corp., Herndon, VA for continued use as a cement storage barge and transfer vessel. 

Overall Dimensions (metric)
Length  402' 06" (122.68m)
Beam  60' 03" (18.36m)
Depth  29' 00" (8.84m)
Capacity (mid-summer)  8,900 tons (9,043 mt)
at a draft of 21' 08.25" (6.61 m)
Power (steam)  1,800 i.h.p. (1,343 KW)

Arriving at Alpena, MI under tow of "G" tugs
Ohio (bow) & South Carolina, Oct. 22, 2005.
Ben & Chanda McClain

Side profile. Ben & Chanda McClain

Stern view. Ben & Chanda McClain

At Green Bay, Nov. 8, 2002. Dick Lund

Starboard side. Dick Lund

With the Alpena unloading at Green Bay,
Nov. 18, 2003. Jason Leino

Stern view, Nov. 8, 2002. Dick Lund

Port side showing dock location. Dick Lund

Close up of stern. Dick Lund

At Green Bay, July 18, 2001. Dick Lund

Port side view. Dick Lund

Nov. 25, 2001. Scott Best

Marc VanderMeulen

Under way in ice. Rod Burdick

Under way. Howard & Jean Miller

At the Soo in the 30's or 40's with the
William H. Donner astern. Tom Manse
courtesy of Roger LeLievre

At Port Huron. Tom Manse
courtesy of Roger LeLievre

Tom Manse
courtesy of Roger LeLievre

Marc VanderMeulen

St. Clair River, 1964. Emory A. Massman

At Great Lakes Engineering Works drydock at
River Rouge, MI. Sid B. Ferriss collection,

At Manitowoc, WI, Apr. 10, 1971.
Roger LeLievre

July 18, 1979. Marc VanderMeulen

Stern view, July 18, 1979.
Marc VanderMeulen

Upbound the St. Clair River, 1980's.
Rob Butler

Lake Huron, 1989. Skip Meier

Docked at night. Mark Peabody

Marc VanderMeulen

Port Huron stern view. Marc VanderMeulen

Return to Marine Historical Society of Detroit     Marine Historical Society of Detroit Photo Gallery

Copyright Marine Historical Society of Detroit. All Rights Reserved.
0208 GW