USS Blue Ridge (1918)

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S.S. Virginia (American Great Lakes Passenger Liner, 1891) At Muskegon, Michigan, prior to World War I. Color-tinted post card published by the E.C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The original card was postmarked at Muskegon on 28 August 1916. This ship served as USS Blue Ridge (ID # 2432) in 1918-1919.
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Name: USS Blue Ridge
Builder: Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, Ohio
Launched: 1891
Acquired: by purchase, 19 April 1918
Commissioned: 17 October 1918
Renamed: Avalon, 18 August 1919
Fate: Sold, 21 August 1919
Destroyed by fire, 18 July 1960
General characteristics
Type: Steamship
Displacement: 1,606 long tons (1,632 t)
Length: 269 ft 2 in (82.04 m)
Beam: 38 ft 3 in (11.66 m)
Draft: 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
Speed: 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)
Complement: 87 officers and enlisted

The first USS Blue Ridge (SP-2432) was a steamship in the United States Navy. The ship was named for the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Service history

In commercial service, 1891–1918

Blue Ridge was originally constructed as the Great Lakes passenger steamer Virginia built by Globe Iron Works at Cleveland, Ohio. The ship was launched in 1891 and was operated by the Goodrich Transit Company between Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 1893, during the Chicago World's Fair, the ship and the whaleback steamer SS Christopher Columbus competed against each other in races.

In US Navy service, 1918–1919

Virginia was purchased on 19 April 1918 for use as a Navy transport at Manitowoc, Wisconsin once America entered World War I. The ship was renamed Blue Ridge (SP-2432) and commissioned on 17 October 1918. Lieutenant Commander E. S. Ells, USNR, was the commanding officer.

On 28 December 1918, the ship arrived at the Boston Navy Yard from the Great Lakes. While undergoing repairs, the war ended and eliminated the need for further service. While still at the Navy Yard, the ship's name was changed to Avalon on 18 August 1919.

File:USS Blue Ridge (ID - 2432).jpg
USS Blue Ridge (ID # 2432) Wearing camouflage paint and with her bow removed for passage through the locks between the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, circa summer 1918.

Return to commercial service, 1919–1951

The Edward P. Farley Company of Chicago bought the ship on 21 August 1919. The Wilmington Transportation Company acquired Avalon. In 1920, the ship entered the company's two-hour daytime run between the Catalina Island Terminal at Wilmington and Los Angeles harbor.

During World War II, Avalon served as a transport in the San Francisco Bay area. The ship returned to the Catalina–Los Angeles run in 1946 and remained in this service until laid up at the Catalina Island Terminal on 12 February 1951.

Avalon caught fire and burned at Long Beach, California on 18 July 1960.