Alabama Underway

The Goodrich Steamer Alabama

By James Donahue

The steamship Alabama was launched in 1909 and put in service the following year for the Goodrich Transit Co. of Chicago.

She was not a large ship at 275 feet, but it served its owners well as both a passenger and cargo carrier on the Great Lakes. It operated under the Goodrich ownership until that company went out of business in 1932. After that the ship was chartered from her bondholders by the Garland & Sullivan Steamship Company.

The vessel had several different owners until 1946.

The ship got in trouble on Feb. 22, 1920 when it ran aground on an old concrete foundation of a water-intake crib in Lake Michigan, at Chicago. The wooden package freighter Sidney O’Neff pulled alongside the steamer and took off its cargo to lighten it. Then harbor tugs pulled the Alabama free. The ship was laid up for repairs to the hull for the rest of the winter.

The Alabama sat idle until 1961 when the wooden superstructure was burned off and the steel hull was converted for use as a barge. She was used to move scrap for a while on the Rouge River at Detroit. After that the hull sat idle at the Herridon Terminal on the River until the dock was sold in 2005. The hull was towed to LaSalle, Ontario and the vessel disappeared from the rolls. It may have been used as a breakwater or landfill on the Canadian coast.

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