Saturday, September 9, 2017

Ship Disasters in Port

I have already described the SS Eastland disaster that happened in Chicago in 1915. I came across two other disasters in one day. So this topic trips my "rule of two."

Old American Photos posted
The ocean liner, SS Normandie, comes to a bad ending at NYC's pier 88 on Feb. 9, 1942.
Thanks Luis Vargas.
Gift of Elenore Seidenberg from HeinzHistoryCenter
The explosion of the Island Queen brought crowds of people to the Monongahela wharf, 1947.
[Pittsburgh, PA]
Photo by Gene Rapp, Jr. Gift of Mari Murphy in memory of Mario A. Ruta. from HeinzHistoryCenter
Investigators search through the collapsed steel remains of the Island Queen’s five decks, 1947. 
 From the Pittsburgh Press, Sept. 17, 1931. from HeinzHistoryCenter
Advertisement from the Pittsburgh Press announcing the Island Queen’s first visit to Pittsburgh in 1931.
Technically, it was the second Island Queen. True to the precarious lives of river steamers, the first Island Queen, built in 1896, burned in a Cincinnati wharf fire in 1922. It was an omen of things to come.

The Island Queen was never a regular visitor to Pittsburgh. She spent her summers ferrying passengers to and from Coney Island, then after Labor Day headed out in search of off-season revenue. Usually, the boat churned south, where warmer weather offered greater prospects for business. Her first visit north was in 1931, when newspaper ads heralded “the largest steamer ever in Pittsburgh.”

A decade passed before the Steel City saw the Island Queen again. In 1941, the boat underwent repairs at Dravo’s marine yard on Neville Island twice. In January, the hull received a general inspection and repair. Then, in November, the Island Queen received a more extensive overhaul to widen and stabilize the hull. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette anticipated that the large steamer would “attract considerable attention.” This is probably true, although as the work stretched through December 1941 and into January 1942, no doubt attention turned away from the novelty of a large pleasure craft to the anticipation of the submarine chasers and LSTs that Dravo would start building to fight World War II.


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