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Virtual Tour: Steamships
Steamships provided a crucial link between the North Shore fishermen and the economic center of Duluth. There were no roads north of Two Harbors until 1929, so the steamship was the only contact with the outside world. Beginning in the late 1880's, the people of the North Shore depended on a succession of steamships to transport their fish and provide them with mail and supplies.
The America Owned and operated by fish packing companies, steamships like the Booth Packing Company's America made the round trip from Duluth to Grand Portage and Isle Royale three times a week from April to December. The America's elegance and unfailing dependability made a lasting impression on the people of Isle Royale and the North Shore. The America sank off of the southern tip of Isle Royale on June 7, 1928 after twenty six years of service.
After the America sank, the Winyah provided dependable steamship service to the North Shore and Isle Royale until 1943. Built as a pleasure yacht for Andrew Carnegie in 1894, it was transformed into a utilitarian steamship by H. Christiansen and Sons, in 1924. It lacked the grace of the America, but is still fondly remembered.
Steamships were crucial to the development of tourism on the North Shore and Isle Royale. In its beginnings, commercial fishermen began to take in overnight guests in the 1920's to supplement their income. From rustic, cold water cabins to luxury hotels, resorts have proven to be a lasting part of the economy of the North Shore. Steamships helped this fledgling industry by promoting the resorts and transporting potential guests.
Martin Christiansen, captain of the Winyah Martin Christiansen managed the business of buying fish, carrying freight and transporting passengers on the Winyah, an H. Christiansens and Sons' steamship that plied the shore of Isle Royale from the late 1920's until 1944.
The steamship captains, representing a link to the outside world, were very important personalities along the North Shore. They are remembered as nearly inseparable parts of the ships they commanded.
next: Steamships and Tourism
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