William P. Snyder

William P. Snyder – Elton Hoyt 2nd {1} – Alex D. Chisholm – Medusa Challenger – Southdown Challenger – St. Marys Challenger

1906-Present

Articulated Barge, Self-Unloading Cement Carrier; Paired with Tugboat Prentiss Brown

St. Marys Challenger / Prentiss Brown, arriving at Grand Haven, MI, 5/7/2020. Sam Hankinson

Specs

Build Information

Year Built: 1906

Builder: Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI

Hull #17

Registry: US 202859

IMO #5009984

Laid Down: October 16, 1905

Launch Date: February 17, 1906

Commissioned: April 26, 1906

Paired Tugboats:

Construction

Many could not have imagined in 1906 when the William P. Snyder was constructed, that she would still be sailing over a century later. She was constructed by Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse, MI, as gearless bulk carrier for the Shenango Furnace Co. The Snyder was the first vessel for Shenango, and set the bar for their high standards, featuring luxurious guest quarters and accommodations, something Shenango would be quite famous around the Great Lakes for.

This webpage about the vessel was first posted on February 17, 2021, the 115th anniversary of her launch.

In 1966, she was converted into a self-unloading cement carrier, a change that would contribute to her seemingly eternal existence.

Her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt and airslide system, feeding a forward bucket-elevator and 48′ airslide boom.

Modifications

  • Reboilered, 1924.
  • Repowered and reboilered, Christy Corp., Sturgeon Bay, WI, 1950.
  • New pilothouse, 1952.
  • Boilers converted to oil-firing, Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI, 1966.
  • Converted into a self-unloading cement carrier, Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, WI, 1966.
  • Converted into an articulated barge, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 2014.

General Stats

As Constructed as a self-propelled gearless bulk carrier

Length Overall: 552′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 530′

Breadth: 56′

Depth: 31′

Loaded Draft: —

Capacity: 10,900 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: 3

Number of Hatches: 31 [Spar Deck reconstructed, hatches reduced to 16]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone, Grain Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After conversion to a self-unloading cement carrier, 1966.

Length Overall: 552′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 530′

Breadth: 56′

Depth: 31′

Loaded Draft: 21’09”

Capacity: 10,250 Tons

Vessel Type: Self-Unloading Cement Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: 8

Number of Hatches: 30

Primary Operations: Cement Trade

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After conversion to a barge, 2014.

Length Overall [Combined Tug & Barge]: 613′

Length Overall [Barge]: 527′

Breadth: 56′

Depth: 31′

Loaded Draft: 21’09”

Capacity: 10,250 Tons

Vessel Type: Self-Unloading Cement Carrier; Barge

Number of Cargo Holds: 8

Number of Hatches: 31

Primary Operations: Cement Trade


Engineering Equipment [Removed, 2014]

Original

Engine

Engine Type: Triple-Expansion Steam Engine

Engine Manufacturer: Great Lakes Engineering Works, Engine Department, River Rouge, MI

Engine Model: 23’’, 37’’, 63’’ dia. X 42’’ stroke

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 1665 IHP


Boiler

Boiler Type: Coal-Fired Scotch Boiler

Boiler Manufacturer: Great Lakes Engineering Works, Boiler Department, River Rouge, MI

Boiler Size: —

Number of Boilers: 2


Reboiler – 1924

Boiler Type: Coal-Fired Water Tube Boiler

Boiler Manufacturer: —

Boiler Size: 6596 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2


Repower – 1950

Engine Type: Reciprocating Steam Engine

Engine Manufacturer: Skinner Engine Co., Erie, PA

Engine Model: 28” dia. x 30” stroke; 4-Cylinder

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 3500 IHP


Reboiler – 1950

Boiler Type: Coal-Fired Water Tube Boiler

Boiler Manufacturer: —

Boiler Size: 9256 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2


History

Lineage

William P. Snyder – 1906-1926

Owner: Shenango Furnace Co., Pittsburgh, PA

Operator: Shenango Furnace Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Fairport, OH


Elton Hoyt 2nd {1} – 1926-1929

Owner: Stewart Furnace Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Stewart Furnace Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Fairport, OH


Elton Hoyt 2nd {1} – 1929-1930

Owner: Youngstown Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Pickands Mather & Co., Cleveland, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Fairport, OH


Elton Hoyt 2nd {1} – 1930-1952

Owner: Interlake Steamship Company, Cleveland, Ohio [Pickands Mather & Co.]

Operator: Interlake Steamship Company

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, Delaware


Alex D. Chisholm – 1952-1966

Owner: Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH [Pickands Mather & Co.]

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Medusa Challenger – 1967-1999

Owner: Cement Transit Co., Cleveland, Ohio [Medusa Portland Cement]

Operator: Cement Transit Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Southdown Challenger – 1999-2000

Owner: Southdown, Inc., Houston, TX

Operator: Southdown, Inc.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Southdown Challenger – 2000-2005

Owner: Wilmington Trust, Wilmington, DE

Operator: HMC Ship Management, Lemont, IL [Hannah Marine Corp.] [Under charter to Cemex]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Philadelphia, PA


St. Marys Challenger – 2005-2009

Owner: Wilmington Trust, Wilmington, DE

Operator: HMC Ship Management, Lemont, IL [Hannah Marine Corp.] [Under charter to St. Marys Cement]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Philadelphia, PA


St. Marys Challenger – 2009-2013

Owner: Port City Steamship Services, Muskegon, MI [Sand Products Corp.]

Operator: Port City Steamship Services [Under charter to St. Marys Cement]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Philadelphia, PA


St. Marys Challenger – 2014-Present

Owner: Port City Marine Services, Muskegon, MI [Sand Products Corp.]

Operator: Port City Marine Services [Under charter to St. Marys Cement]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Muskegon, MI


Her Story

In mid-1905, Shenango Furnace Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, contracted Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse, MI, to construct the company’s first ship. The keel for Hull #17 was laid down on October 16, 1905, and was christened William P. Snyder and launched into the waters of the Detroit River on February 17, 1906. The new bulk carrier was similar to most at the time, except for her luxurious guest quarters, something that the ships of the Shenango Fleet would become famous for. William P. Snyder sailed on her maiden voyage on April 26, 1906.

William P. Snyder was reboilered with a pair of new water tube boilers in 1924. She was sold to the Stewart Furnace Co. of Cleveland, OH, in 1926, and renamed Elton Hoyt 2nd {1} on June 26, 1926. The Hoyt was sold again in 1929 to Youngstown Steamship Co., with Pickands Mather & Co. taking over as managers. Youngstown Steamship was absorbed into Pickands Mather’s Interlake Steamship Co. in 1930.

In 1950, Elton Hoyt 2nd was repowered with a Skinner Marine Unaflow reciprocating steam engine and reboilered by Christy Corp. at Sturgeon Bay, WI. She collided with the Enders M. Voorhees in the Straits of Mackinac on November 24, 1950, in a snowstorm. She suffered heavy damage to her bow, and proceeded to Great Lakes Engineering Works for repairs.

Elton Hoyt 2nd was renamed Alex D. Chisholm in early 1952 to free her former name for a new vessel constructed for the fleet. The Chisholm sailed steadily for Interlake until 1962, when she was laid up at Erie, PA.

In 1966, the Cement Transit Co. subsidiary of Medusa Portland Cement purchased the Chisholm for conversion to a self-unloading cement carrier. Medusa was preparing to complete their new cement plant at Charlevoix, MI, the next year, and was in need of a vessel to distribute product throughout the Great Lakes region. Alex D. Chisholm was towed to Manitowoc, WI, where she was converted into a self-unloading cement carrier by Manitowoc Shipbuilding. A conveyor and airslide system were installed in her cargo hold, and a bucket elevator was installed in her forward end, leading to a 48’ long airslide boom. Her boilers were converted to oil-firing while in the shipyard.

The “new” cement carrier was christened Medusa Challenger in early 1967, and began serving the cement trade, loading at the Medusa Cement plant at Charlevoix, MI, for delivery to terminals at Chicago, IL, Green Bay, Manitowoc and Milwaukee, WI, Detroit and Ferrysburg, MI, and Cleveland and Toledo, OH. During her early years as a cement carrier, she served the Chicago Terminal up the Chicago Sanitary & Ship. Medusa Challenger was nicknamed the “jinx” ship when she traveled up the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, as many of the downtown bridges regularly got stuck in the up position when she passed through. A few years after she entered service, a new terminal was opened on Lake Calumet in South Chicago, and passages up the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal were discontinued.

Medusa Challenger was the first vessel to unload at the new Medusa Toledo terminal on May 22, 1987, and at the Miller Paving terminal at Owen Sound, ON, on November 20, 1990. On October 5, 1997, the Challenger was hit by a waterspout on northern Lake Michigan, escaping without any major damage.

Medusa Cement was bought out by Southdown, Inc., in 1998. The Challenger was renamed Southdown Challenger in April 1999. Southdown was bought out by Mexico-based Cemex in 2000, and the Challenger was sold to Wilmington Trust in order to keep the vessel’s Jones Act status. Management of the vessel was contracted to HMC Ship Management, a subsidiary of Hannah Marine Corp. The vessel was operated under a cargo contract charter to Southdown.

In 2005, the Great Lakes operations of Cemex were purchased by Brazilian-based Votorantum Cimentos, with ownership of the facilities being placed under their subsidiary St. Marys Cement US of Detroit. Southdown Challenger was renamed St. Marys Challenger prior to entering service for the 2005 season.

St. Marys Challenger celebrated her centennial season in 2006, sailing from April 4 to December 11, 2006. Her Texas deck gunwale was adorned with the phrase “Still Steamin’”.

In early 2009, Hannah Marine Corp. went out of business, and the St. Marys Challenger was purchased by Port City Steamship Services, a subsidiary of Sand Products Corp. Her stack colors were changed to black with an orange “PC” lettering. She continued to serve St. Marys Cement under cargo contract charter.

By the end of the 2013 season, the Challenger was up for renewal of her 5-Year Inspection Certificate. The decision was made to convert her into an articulated barge at this time, as it was becoming too costly to maintain her old steam power plant and crew to accompany it. St. Marys Challenger laid up at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding on October 11, 2013, on her final trip as a powered steamer. Over the winter, her forward pilothouse was replaced with a small lookout tower, and her aft accommodations and engine room cut down and removed. A notch for the tugboat was fabricated and welded onto her stern while in the drydock. The tug Bradshaw McKee sailed to Sturgeon Bay to pick up the St. Marys Challenger, and the pair entered service on June 3, 2014, continuing normal trading.

In early 2015, the tug Bradshaw McKee switched out with the Prentiss Brown. St. Marys Challenger continues to sail actively in the cement trade, being pushed by the tugboat Prentiss Brown.


Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on February 17, 2021


Gallery


Sources

Bawal Jr., Raymond A. Twilight of the Great Lakes Steamer. Inland Expressions, 2009. Pp. 9-13.

Berry, Sterling P. “Snyder, William P.” Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 30 December 2020. https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/s/snyder-william-p

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 110.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 7.5.

LeLievre, Roger. Know Your Ships 2013. Marine Publishing Company, 2013. Pp. 73.

LeLievre, Roger. Know Your Ships 2020. Marine Publishing Company, 2020. Pp. 78.

Manse, Thomas J. Know Your Ships: 1959. Thomas J. Manse, 1959. Pp. 35.

The Great Lakes Engineering Works: The Shipyard and its Vessels. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 2008. Pp. 88-90.

Wharton, George. “St. Marys Challenger”. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 30 December 2020. http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/stmaryschallenger.htm Winters, Christopher. Centennial: Steaming through the American Century. Running Lights Press, 2008.