Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Restoration for Freighter J.B. Ford has Sailed


In 1903, the Edwin F. Holmes, better known as the J.B. Ford, set sail out of Lorain, Ohio. More than a century later, the oldest Great Lakes freighter still intact is now docked in Lake Superior. But the plan to restore the old vessel into a museum ship has fallen through.

According to a recent article published in the Duluth News Tribune, the Great Lakes Steamship Society, which was working to save the 111-year-old freighter, has abandoned its efforts after not being able to raise enough money.

In 2008, the Ford was going to be scrapped for a dollar, but the Great Lakes Steamship Society made it the society’s mission to preserve the vessel.

The 440-foot ship is known for its three-cycle reciprocating steam engine: The last of its kind. The ship’s greatest claim to fame is as a survivor of two terrible storms: The “Mataafa Storm” of 1905 and the “White Hurricane” of 1913, which claimed the lives of many ships and their crew.

J.B. Ford last sailed in 1985 as a cement barge. Since then, it has served as a stationary cement storage and transfer vessel until 2006.

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