S.S. Milwaukee Clipper

The SS Milwaukee Clipper underway.  Crowds fill the upper and lower decks.

SIGNIFICANCE

Built in 1904-1905, and substantially rebuilt in 1940, the steamship S.S. Milwaukee Clipper is the oldest United States passenger steamship on the Great Lakes. The ship was originally built as the S.S. Juniata by the American Shipbuilding Company for the Anchor Line of the Erie and Western Transportation Company, a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Juniata worked for the Anchor Line until 1915 when an anti-monopoly act was passed forbidding railroads to own steamships. It was sold to the Great Lakes Transit Corporation and continued to carry passengers and freight on the Great Lakes until 1936, when increased safety regulations caused it to be laid up or face substantial rebuilding. The ship was purchased in 1940-1941 by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company who rebuilt it to surpass safety rules and standards of accommodation, and was given the new name S.S. Milwaukee Clipper as well as a new, more modern appearance. It was put back into service in 1941 carrying passengers and a cargo of strictly automobiles between Milwaukee and Muskegon, Michigan. Service continued until 1970, when it was laid up at Muskegon. In 1977 the vessel was sold to the Illinois Steamship Company and towed to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and later to Navy Pier in Chicago. While in Chicago, it served as a restaurant and nightclub for several years. In 1998 it was moved to Muskegon, and is currently open for tours, banquets, concerts, a bed and breakfast facility, and a maritime history learning center.

DESIGNATION(S)

  • 1989, National Historic Landmark

ARCHITECT, BUILDER, DESIGNER(S)

  • America Shipbuilding Company

SIGNIFICANT DATE(S)

  • 1904-1905, built as the S.S. Juniata
  • 1915, sold to Great Lakes Transit Corporation
  • 1936, laid up
  • 1940, purchased by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, rebuilt and renamed the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper
  • 1970, laid up at Muskegon
  • 1977, sold to the Illinois Steamship Company, towed to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and later to Navy Pier in Chicago
  • 1998, moved to Muskegon

LINKS AND FURTHER READING