U.S.S. Michigan:Great Lakes Guardian

David Fleet
The U.S.S Michigan: When it was built it was the most powerful warship on the Great Lakes.
At 2 p.m., April 14, Great Lakes maritime historian Larry Hathcock will present his research on the construction and career of the U.S.S. Michigan. On December 1843, the U.S.S. Michigan was launched at Erie, Pa. becoming the first iron hulled paddle steamship in the U.S. Navy.
“It was revolutionary as an iron haul ship,” said Hathcock, an Ortonville resident. “But that did not catch on for ship building until it became economical—there were a lot of trees for ship construction here in United States. It was on the Great Lakes for a long time.”
This revolutionary ship was built as a deterrent to British naval strength on the Great Lakes. Over its long career, the Michigan would become involved with timber pirates, the “King James I” (James Strang) assassination on Beaver Island, and the disruption of the plot to free Confederate POW’s from the Johnson’s Island prison camp during the Civil War.
After the Civil War, the ship became involved with the stopping the Finian invasion of Canada and labor disputes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The ship was renamed U.S.S. Wolverine in 1905 to free up the name for the new battleship, U.S.S. Michigan (BB-27).
The U.S.S. Michigan was scrapped in 1948.
“It was docked in Erie, Pa. it was just left there as a hulk,” he said. “It just slowly deteriorated, but they could not get it together to preserve the ship, however the bow is in a museum at Erie.”
Hathcock is a retired teacher and a member of the Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society. He served six years in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a Radioman 3rd Class and is a longtime student of Great Lakes maritime history. Cost: $7 light refreshments will be served.
The presentation will be at the OCPHS Carriage House, 405 Caesar E. Chavez Ave. Pontiac.

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