CITY OF DETROIT III downbound on the St. Clair River

In 1912, the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company commissioned a steel-hulled passenger side wheeler, the largest one of its type on the Great Lakes. The CITY OF DETROIT III was designed by Frank E. Kirby. On October 7, 1911, the huge side wheeler was christened by Miss Doris McMillan, daughter of Senator McMillan of Detroit, and slid into the murky waters of the Detroit River amid cheers from thousands. During the next few months, the superstructure was completed, with interior decorations designed by Louis O. Keel. Carpenters swarmed over the decks with a goal of completion for the sailing season of 1912. This vessel was the most beautiful of all the ships in the D & C fleet and large crowds of people came down to the river’s edge to see the largest side wheeler in the world. Her parlors, 21 in all, were exquisitely furnished and the 477 staterooms were fitted out with the latest equipment. This huge floating palace became the talk of the Lakes. When she made her first trip, people stared in awe at the giant passenger and freight vessel as she steamed majestically down the Detroit River.

For close to 40 years, this ship sailed between Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. While her giant paddle wheels churned the waters, she was watched by sailors and shore-bound people alike in fascination. Often the ship was chartered by various civic groups who enjoyed the fine cuisine and excellent service offered aboard. Honeymoon couples boarded the vessel at Detroit and Cleveland and traveled to Buffalo with connections to Niagara Falls. In her day, she was the ultimate in comfort and style. Many people around Detroit enjoyed the Sunday cruises up the St. Clair River in the last few years of her life. These were missed when the ship lay idle in 1950. The end of her career had come, not by accident or sinking, but by the economics of the times. The company had gone out of business.

The CITY OF DETROIT III lay at the dock for a few years until matters under litigation could be resolved. She looked so forlorn, waiting for her end to come. In 1956, the vessel was sold for scrap to Robert L. Rosen and Abraham Siegel. During the winter of 1956 – 57, she was dismantled by the Union Wrecking Company at Detroit. The upper works were stripped and the hull scrapped at Hamilton, Ontario, by the Steel Company of Canada. Some of her interior furnishings were saved for museum pieces by Frank Schmidt who bought them and shipped them to Cleveland. The woodwork and entire "Gothic Room" was preserved and subsequently returned to Detroit, where the room was restored and can be seen at the Dossin Marine Museum on Belle Isle in the Detroit River. Here her fond memory still lives, close to the waters she sailed. The room can be enjoyed by the thousands who once rode aboard her, and the countless others who can only imagine her opulence as she once was.

CITY OF DETROIT III a good crowd on a Sunday excursion

BUILT: Detroit Shipbuilding Company, Wyandotte, Michigan GROSS REGISTERED TONNAGE: 6,061
LENGTH: 455.8 ENGINES: 63", 92", 92" Diameter X 102" Stroke
Inclined compound
BREADTH: 55.5 ENGINE BUILDER: Detroit Shipbuilding Company, Wyandotte, Michigan - 1911
DEPTH: 22.5

At the foot of Third St., Detroit, S.S. JAMES MACNAUGHTON
at left. Tug B.H. Becker at right. Kenneth E. Smith