Eastland (1903)

Later names:
USS Wilmette IX-29 (1918)

Owners:
Built for:
Michigan Steamship Company
South Haven, Michigan

Dec. 21, 1905:
Michigan Transportation Company (Chicago-South Haven Line)
South Haven, Michigan

1907:
Lake Shore Navigation Company
Cleveland, Ohio

1909:
Eastland Navigation Company
Cleveland, Ohio

June 1, 1914:
St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company
St. Joseph, Michigan

Dec. 20, 1915:
Edward A. Evers
Chicago, Illinois

Nov. 21, 1917:
United States Navy


Builder:
Jenks Shipbuilding Company
Port Huron, Michigan
Ordered:
October 1902
Keel Laid:
N/A
Year Built:
1903
Launched:
May 6, 1903
Sister Ships:
N/A
Maiden Voyage:
July 16, 1903
Fate:
Sold Oct. 31, 1946 to Hyman Michaels Co., Chicago, Illinois and scrapped.


Dimensions, machinery and performance

Length:
280'
Engines:
2 triple expansion (e)
Beam:
38' 2"
Boilers:
4 Scotch (coal fired)
Draft:
22' 8" (a)
Shafts:
2
Gross Tons:
1,961
HP:
1,750
Displacement:
2,600 (b)
Speed:
16.5 knots (f)
Crew:
70 (c)
Funnels:
2
Passengers:
3,000 (d)
Masts:
2
Construction notes:
(a):
19' 6" as USS Wilmette.
(b):
As USS Wilmette.
(c):
As Eastland, 209 as USS Wilmette.
(d):
2,800 from July 1904.
2,400 from Aug. 1906.
2,000 from 1912.
2,570 from July 1915

(e):
Later replaced with steam turbines.
(f):
As USS Wilmette.


Captains:
From
To
Name
1903
?
John Pereue
May 9, 1904
1907
Capt. Dority
1907
1909
A. H. McLachlan
1909
1912
Merwin S. Thompson
1912
June 26, 1914
Claude Ennes
June 26, 1914
July 24, 1915
Harry S. Pedersen
Sept. 20, 1918
July 9, 1919
Captain William B. Wells USN
June 29, 1920
?
Captain Edward A. Evers USNRF


Awards:
World War 1 Victory Medal (with Atlantic Fleet clasp)
American Defense Medal (with Fleet clasp)
American Campaign Medal
World War 2 Victory Medal


History:
July 16, 1903:
Maiden voyage Port Huron-Mackinac Island-Manistee-South Haven arriving on July 18.
July 1903:
Placed on the South Haven, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois route.
July 1903:
Collided with the tugboat George W. Gardner receiving only minor damage.
Aug. 14, 1903:
While on a cruise from Chicago to South Haven, the ship's firemen refused to stoke the
fire, claiming that they hadn't received their potatoes for a meal. When they refused
to return to the fire hole, Captain John Pereue ordered the six men arrested at gun point.
Upon arrival in South Haven, the six men, Glenn Watson, Mike Davern, Frank LaPlarte,
Edward Fleming, Mike Smith, and William Madden, were taken to the town jail.
Two other firemen, George Lippen and Benjamin Myers, stoked the fires until the
ship reached harbor. Shortly after the mutiny, Pereue was replaced.

Sept. 22, 1903:
Arrived at Jenks Shipbuilding for modifications including the addition of an
air conditioning system and machinery adjustments to reduce draft.

May 9, 1904:
Returned to service.
July 17, 1904:
Nearly capsized just out of South Haven, Michigan.
Late 1904:
At Jenks Shipbuilding for further modifications 49 aft cabins removed and additional
lifeboats added.

Dec. 21, 1905:
Sold to Michigan Transportation Co. (owned by Robert Blacker former President of
Michigan Steamship Co.) He partnered up with Dunkley Williams to form the Chicago-South Haven Line. Continued on South Haven - Chicago route.

Aug. 5, 1906:
Nearly capsized.
Sold to Lake Shore Navigation Co. Cleveland, Ohio and transferred to Lake Erie for
Cleveland, Ohio to Cedar Point amusement park, Sandusky, Ohio.

1909:
Sold to Eastland Navigation Co., continued use on Cleveland-Cedar Point route.
Late 1909:
39 remaining cabins removed.
1912:
Funnels shortened.
July 1, 1912:
Nearly capsized while loading passengers at Cleveland, Ohio.
June 1, 1914:
Sold to St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Co. and returned to Lake Michigan for
St. Joseph, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois service.

1915:
Modifications made, 6 life rafts and 3 lifeboats added, interior reorganized
concrete used to replace rotting decking in the between decks.

July 24, 1915:
Chartered by Indiana Transportation Co. for the Western Electric Co. to take employees
and their families to Washington Park in Michigan City, Indiana for the annual company picnic.
At 7:30am Eastland rolled over to port near the Clark St. bridge on the Chicago River
killing 844 (841 passengers, 2 crew and 1 man from the SS Petoskey who was involved in
rescue attempts)
(July 24, 2005 Daily Event)

Aug. 14, 1915:
Raised and salvaged.
Dec. 20, 1915:
Sold to Capt. Edward A. Evers at auction.
Nov. 21, 1917:
Sold to U. S. Navy and converted into a gunboat upper decks removed and 8 guns added
(4 x 4" / 2 x 3" / 2 x 1 pounders).

Feb. 20, 1918:
Name changed to USS Wilmette.
Sept. 20, 1918:
Commissioned into U. S. Navy and used for training midshipmen.
July 9, 1919:
Placed in ordinary in Chicago , Illinois.
June 29, 1920:
Placed in full commission and used to train gun crews on Lake Michigan.
June 7, 1921:
Sank former German submarine UC-97 as target on Lake Michigan off Highland Park, Illinois.
Feb. 15, 1940:
Placed out of commission in service.
Feb. 17, 1941:
Redesignated as IX-29 misc. auxiliary, used to train armed guards for merchant ships.
Aug. 1943
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Admiral William D. Leahy, James F. Byrnes and
Harry Hopkins were taken on a 10 day cruise to McGregor and Whitefish Bay to plan
war strategies.

Apr. 9, 1945:
Placed in full commission with the intention of taking the ship to Boston but these plans
were cancelled when World War 2 ended.

Nov. 28, 1945:
Decommissioned.
Dec. 19, 1945:
Stricken from the Naval Register.
Oct. 31, 1946:
Sold to Hyman Michaels Co., Chicago, Illinois and scrapped. Scrapping completed in 1947.


Notes:
Christened by Francis Elizabeth Stufflebeam
Ernie Pyle the journalist trained on the USS Wilmette in 1921.
More passengers died on the Eastland than on the Titanic.
A temporary morgue was set up at the Second Regiment Armory on Washington Blvd.
The building has since been purchased by Oprah Winfrey and is now the site of
Harpo Productions.

Libby Hruby, reportedly the last known survivor of the Eastland disaster died
Nov. 6, 2004 (It should be noted this may not be the last survivor).


Builder's Data
Page revised Sept. 15, 2007