The Great Lakes Steamship Society was formed in 2010 with the purpose of preserving the rich maritime heritage that the Great Lakes region offers through its vast industrial network of mines, railroads, bulk freighters, and mills and factories that take the raw materials and turn them into the life blood of this nation. We are a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, consisting of Great Lakes shipping industry professionals and maritime historians who share a common love for our rich maritime heritage.
Over the years, her hull was painted black, then red, then green, and beige, while her masthead flew the house flags of some of the Lakes’ most storied fleets; Hawgood, Pittsburgh, Kinsman, and finally Huron Cement and LaFarge. A typical Great Lakes bulk carrier of her day when she first met the water in December of 1903, the J. B. Ford (then named the Edwin F. Holmes) never set any records for size, speed, or cargo haulage. However, the very traits that made her remarkable then make her special today. The J. B. Ford is now the most complete, original example of a classic Great Lakes freighter from the early years of the 20th Century.
The Great Lakes Steamship Society is negotiating with the vessels owner to acquire the Ford, and they have requested that we completely remediate the asbestos onboard the vessel as a requirement to us receiving the Ford from the corporation. In order for us to satisfactorily meet this requirement we would need to gain ownership of the vessel first, but that cannot happen, so a compromise was reached that we raise the money to safely remove the asbestos onboard and put it in a holding account and prove that we will have it taken care of, and this will satisfy their requirement and the vessel will be transferred to us and we can begin the cleanup and restoration phase.
After getting a copy of the vessels asbestos survey, speaking with asbestos contractors and the company itself on monthly storage costs for the vessel itself we have come up with the budget of $600,000 to completely remove the asbestos from the vessel, dispose of it safely and legally, and to store the vessel at its current location for up to 2 years. This money also includes money for important minor repairs to leaks in the cabin roof and replacement of all gaskets to every outside opening to no longer allow the ingress of rain water damaging the historical integrity of the ships original 110 year old interior. We have located a suitable home port for the vessel and are currently working out the details with the city of Alpena Michigan, but before we can do anything, we must think of the old saying “don’t put the cart before the horse” And we must do just that, we need to
acquire the Ford before we can move it to Alpena and put it on display.
With your help we can cancel this amazing vessels date with the Scrap yard at the end of 2014 and make sure it is around for another 110 years for generations of people to enjoy and learn from. For larger sponsors or private donations we would be very happy to place your name or corporate logo onboard the ship and on our website for everyone to see that you were integral in the preservation of this invaluable part of Great Lakes Maritime History.