Ships 2

Harriet B

Ships 3

Lumber Hooker Harriet B

Lumber Barge Harriet B

By James Donahue

The lumber industry was a major part of commerce on and around the Great Lakes in the 1800s and early Twentieth Century so lumber barges were about as common as fleas on a dog. After the arrival of steamships, most of the older wooden hulled schooners were converted for use as lumber carriers. The Harriet B, however, began as a railroad car ferry.

Launched in 1895 as the Shenango No. 2, the 282-foot-long steamer worked with its sister ferry, the Shenango No. 1 hauling railroad freight cars between Conneaut, Ohio and Port Dover, Ontario. The steamer had capacity for up to 26 railroad cars.

The venture ran into trouble after the two vessels proved incapable of dealing with heavy ice on Lake Erie during the winter months. The Shenango No. 2 was sold to the Pere Marquette Railroad by 1898 and moved to Ludington, on Lake Michigan. The vessel’s name was changed to Muskegon, then it became Pere Marquette 16 in 1901.

The ferry served the railroad until 1907 when it was badly damaged when driven ashore in a storm near Ludington. The ship was salvaged but remained idle for about 11 years before it was sold to the Hammermill Paper Co. of Erie, Pa. In 1918 Hammermill rebuilt the old ferry and converted it for use as a bulk freight steamer to carry logs.

The ship was given its final name, Harriet B, and put on a regular route between Lake Superior shores and the company paper mill at Erie. In 1921 the ship’s engines were removed and the Harriet B was downgraded to service as a tow barge.

Throughout its career on the Great Lakes, this vessel gained a reputation as a hard-luck ship because it was reportedly involved in numerous mishaps. And it was a collision that sent the Harriet B. to the bottom of Lake Superior in 1922.

It happened on May 3 when the Harriet B, laden with pulp wood and in tow behind the steamer C. W. Jacob, dropped anchor in heavy fog off Two Harbors, Minnesota to wait for better visibility. The steel freighter Quincy A. Shaw collided with the Hanna B., slicing the old wooden vessel in two. It sank about two miles off shore. The crew escaped.


Car Ferry Shenango No. 2