The steel whaleback steamer JOHN ERICSSON was launched on July 11, 1896 at W. Superior, Wisconsin by the American Steel Barge Company for its own fleet and transferred to the Bessemer Steamship Company later the same year. She was the only true whaleback steamer to carry her bridge structure forward. All the rest had their cabins aft.

In 1901, the Bessemer fleet was absorbed by the United States Steel Corporation's Pittsburgh Steamship Company, for which the vessel sailed in the iron ore trade until 1926. In 1914, her engines were remodeled to 22 1/2", 36", 60" cylinder diameter X 42" stroke. In 1930, the ERICSSON was transferred to the Schneider Steamship Company, which in turn sold her to James Plafair of Midland, Ontario, for his Great Lakes Transit Corporation, Ltd., the same year. In 1931, she was owned by the Midland Steamship Company who used her for a variety of trades. (C. 154863 Canadian dimensions: 398.5 X 48.2 X 22.0; 3,650 GRT.)

In 1938, the ERICSSON was sold to Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Company Ltd., Toronto, which became Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. in 1961. Her main cargo in those years was grain from the Lakehead to Sarnia, Ontario. Late in 1963, the steamer was retired in Toronto. Upper Lakes officials tried to preserve the ERICSSON, now one of the last whaleback steamers afloat, offering her as a maritime museum first to Toronto and then to Hamilton, Ontario civic groups. The city fathers of Hamilton at first accepted the offer in 1966 but then changed their minds later that year when costs to maintain and convert the vessel and political factors intervened. Upper Lakes took the vessel back and had her towed from her berth at Confederation Park to the scrap yard in Hamilton, where she lay until sold for scrap in 1968. The once largest whaleback on the lakes was dismantled by Strathearne Terminals at Hamilton. Now she is but a memory

JOHN ERICSSON downbound in the Soo Locks, unidentified barge in tow

BUILT: 1896 American Steel Barge Co., W. Superior, Wisc. GROSS REGISTERED TONNAGE: 3,200
LENGTH: 390.0 ENGINES: 25", 40", 68" Diameter X 42" Stroke
Triple Expansion
BREADTH: 48.2 ENGINE BUILDER: Cleveland Shipbuilding Company Cleveland, Ohio
DEPTH: 22.0

JOHN ERICSSON downbound at Mission Point in 1922

Upbound in lower Lake Huron June 26, 1960

At Confederation Park July 15, 1966