The Whaleback Steamer
Christopher Columbus

This page is devoted to the only passenger whaleback steamer ever built, the Christopher Columbus. The page's primary purpose is to hold my collection of Christopher Columbus images. The collection has grown quite large and now includes over 70 unique images of the vessel and over 100 pictures. Most of them are postcards that I acquired on ebay, but a number are shown courtesy of private and public collections. I try to include information on each picture as best I can. It is generally possible to tell which decade a photo was taken in, as the vessel's appearance changed throughout the course of her career. The Christopher Columbus holds the distinction of having transported more people than any other vessel on the Great Lakes and at the time of her launch, she was the largest vessel on the Great Lakes. She was unveiled at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair and transported massive numbers of people between Lake Michigan ports prior to her scrapping at Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1936. Because of the large volume of passengers she carried, she was one of the most widely photographed vessels of her era. The following is the essential history of the vessel. I apologise for the load time on the images. I shrunk all the images down to 400 pixels, but I decided not to thumbnail them in the interest of time. I have included a number of different tints and treatments of single images. It is surprising how early 20th century postcard artists could dress up a photo to make it look quite different from the original. Please direct any inquiries to Brendon Baillod,

Click Here to view the image collection

Build Data
Name: Christopher Columbus
Registry Number US: 126952
Hull Framed: 9/13/1892
Launched: 12/3/1892
Left Yard: 5/13/1893
Year Engine Built: 1893
Builder: American Steel Barge Co., 1893 United States, Wisconsin, West Superior
Engine Builder: Samuel F. Hodge & Co., 1893 United States, Michigan, Detroit
Boiler Builder: Cleveland Shipbuilding Company, 1893, Clevland, Ohio
Hull Number: 128

Type of Vessel: Day excursion whaleback
Built of Steel
Length 362 ft.
Beam 42 ft.
Depth 24 ft.
Gross Tonnage 1511.05 gt.
Net Tonnage 945.95 nt.
9 bulkheads
Had a top deck added in winter, 1899-1900.

Ownership History
First Owner: Columbian Whaleback Steamship Co. Duluth, MN U.S. 1893 - 1906
Second Owner: Milwaukee & Chicago Transportation Co. Milwaukee, WI U.S. 1906 - 1909
Third Owner: Goodrich Transit Co. (ME) Milwaukee, WI U.S. 1909 - 1921
Fourth Owner: Goodrich Transit Co. (DE) Milwaukee, WI U.S. 1921 - 1933
Fifth Owner: William F. Price Chicago, IL U.S. 1933 - 1934
Final Owner: The Chriscarala Corp. Duluth, MN U.S. 1934 - 1936
Final Disposition: Scrapped, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1936 by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co.
Final document surrendered at Milwaukee on November 16, 1937.

Power Plant
Engine Type: Triple expansion
Piston #1 26 in.
Piston #2 42 in.
Piston #4 70 in.
Stroke 42 in.
Six steel return tubular boilers, 11 ft.D x 12 ft. L
Wheel: 4 blades, 14 ft. diameter, 19 ft. Pitch

The Triple Expansion Steam Engine of the Christoper Columbus -

Blue Book of American Shipping - 1896


















The age of Christopher Columbus images can be discerned by a few known changes in her appearance:

1. When first built, she was painted completely white, including her stack and had only two decks.
2. After 1894, The CC's smokestack was painted red.
3. In the winter of 1899/1900 she was rebuilt with a third deck added and her hull was painted black..
4. Between about 1906, when she was sold to her second owner, and 1909, portions of her stack and superstructure were painted yellow.
5. While serving as a Goodrich vessel (1910 - 1933), her stack was painted red and most of her superstructure was white.
6. After about 1917, the CC's name was painted on the side of her bow. Prior, it had been painted much farther back.

Click Here to view the image collection