Milwaukee Clipper

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
Name: S.S. Milwaukee Clipper
Owner: Great Lakes Clipper Preservation Group
Route: Muskegon to Milwaukee
Builder: Manitowoc Ship Building Company
Maiden voyage: As rebuilt,3 June 1941
Fate: Museum Ship
Status: Docked in Muskegon, Michigan
General characteristics
Length: 361 feet (110 m)
Beam: 45 feet (14 m)
Installed power: Quadruple Expansion Steam
Propulsion: Single Screw
Milwaukee Clipper (passenger steamship)
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Location: New Hammond Marina, Muskegon, Michigan (formerly Chicago, Illinois and Hammond, Indiana)
Built/Founded: 1904, Rebuilt 1941
Architect: American Shipbuilding Co. Redesigned in 1940 by George G. Sharpe
Architectural style(s): Art Deco, Streamlined Moderne
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: December 8, 1983[1]
Designated NHL: April 11, 1989[2]
NRHP Reference#: 83003570

The S/S Milwaukee Clipper, also known as S/S Clipper , and formerly as the S/S Juniata, is a mothballed passenger ship and automobile ferry that sailed under two configurations and on two sides of the Great Lakes. The Clipper is the oldest US passenger steamship on the Great Lakes.[3] The vessel is now docked in Muskegon, Michigan.

As the Juniata

Her story begins December 22, 1904, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the shipyards of the American Shipbuilding Company. Christened the Juniata when launched, she was built for the Anchor Line, the marine division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The ship is 361 feet in length, 45 feet in beam, a depth of 28 feet, with a gross tonnage of 4333 tons. It carried 350 passengers in staterooms at 18 knots. As originally built, it had a riveted steel hull and a wooden superstructure. For the Pennsylvania Railroad, she carried passengers and package freight between Duluth, Minnesota, and Buffalo, New York, until 1915.

That year, the anti-monopoly Panama Canal Act, which forbade railroads to own steamships, went into effect. Divesting its marine divisions, the Pennsylvania Railroad sold its Anchor Line along with four other railroad-owned company fleets, to the newly formed Great Lakes Transit Corporation. Under this flag, she carried passengers along her old routes [4]for another 20 seasons. The Juniata was laid up in 1937.

As the Milwaukee Clipper

The Juniata laid idle in Buffalo until being sold in 1940 for use as a cross-lake steamer on Lake Michigan. The Juniata was extensively modernized at the yard of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. She had her boilers upgraded to run on fuel oil, but retains her original quadruple expansion steam engine. The old cabins and wooden superstructure were removed and replaced with steel to meet the new maritime fire safety standards created after the SS Morro Castle disaster off Asbury Park, New Jersey. The streamlined forward funnel is false and does not ventilate engine exhaust. The new ship featured air conditioned staterooms, a children's playroom, a movie theater, live entertainment, a dance floor, and capacity to carry 120 automobiles. On June 3, 1941, she made her maiden voyage to Muskegon. Under her new name Milwaukee Clipper, she steamed between Muskegon and Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 29 seasons.

During World War II, the Clipper transported defense materials from Muskegon to Milwaukee. In the 1950s and 1960s, contracts with auto manufacturers to transport new cars during the winter months allowed the ship to operate without a full passenger load after most all-passenger vessels had become unprofitable and forced into retirement.

By 1970, competition from the Interstate Highway System and commercial airlines had rendered the Clipper unprofitable as a cross-lake transporter. She spent the next several decades being passed among different owners filling different roles.

Museum Ship

SS Milwaukee Clipper Docked in Muskegon

In the late 1970s, the ship was renamed S/S Clipper and served as a maritime museum and convention facility at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. In December 1983, the Milwaukee Clipper was listed on the National Register of Historic Places,[1] and in May 1989 she was designated a National Historic Landmark.[2][5] The next year, she was moved to Hammond, Indiana. She was sold on December 2, 1997 for use as a museum in Muskegon, Michigan.

Once again named "Milwaukee Clipper", she is currently docked at Muskegon, Michigan, tied up to the collapsing remnants of the old Grand Trunk Ferry dock undergoing restoration by volunteers. The ship was open for tours until the summer of 2007, but was closed to the public, pending spring 2008 relocation efforts that were ultimately unsuccessful.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "MILWAUKEE CLIPPER (passenger steamship)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  3. Clipper history
  4. [1]
  5. Kevin Foster (August 10, 1988). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: SS Clipper / SS Juniata // SS Milwaukee ClipperPDF (32 KB). National Park Service.  and Accompanying photos, exterior and interior, from c.1940, c.1950, and c.1965PDF (32 KB)

External links