The bridges along the North Branch used to be movable up to, and including, Belmont Avenue. Grebe Shipyard took advantage of this navigation channel because they built some fairly large boats. It used to specialize in building custom luxury wooden yachts. They used exotic woods like teak and mahogany.
And the mahogany was not just for interior use. This boat was listed for $134,500. The listing indicated the hull material was "Double Planked Mahogany" and the deck material was Teak.
|1964 55-foot Flushdeck Pilothouse|
|The interior of the above 1964 boat|
I found someone's recollection that it closed in 1995. [YachtForums, Jeff Ondrla]
A view to the east showing a shipyard on the west side of the North Branch of the Chicago River, just north of Belmont Avenue, on February 11, 1922. Some of the rides at Riverview Park are visible in the background.
I first learned about this shipyard because they made minesweepers during WWII and the Navy installed machinery in the railroad swing bridges on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal so that they could be opened to allow the minesweepers to get to the ocean via the Mississippi River. (The St. Lawrence Seaway would not open until 1959. The Navy also shipped other ships from Great Lakes shipyards down the Mississippi River such as Manitowoc Submarines.) I dug through a lot of luxury yacht photos before I figured out how to search for photos of mine sweepers. A collection of photos of their yachts is at the end of these notes.
The Navy wanted to build ships inland to avoid German U-boats. Sometimes they built a shipyard from scratch like the LST shipyard in Seneca, IL. In the case of Grebe, they just had to change the product line. I can't determine if the hull of the YMS class of minesweepers was steel or wood. I remember reading that Grebe was chosen to build wooden minesweepers because of their expertise and tooling to make wooden hulls. But a reference indicates that magnetic mines, and thus wooden hulled minesweepers, were not developed until the Korean War.
Displacement is 270 British tonnes, length is 136', and the crew was 32 men. It had 2 shafts and 2000 hp. 494 ships of this class were built, which was, by far, the largest class.
YMS-84 was the first minesweeper built at Grebe. It was order 4-1-1941, the hull was laid down 6-2-1941, it was launched 3-3-1942, and it was commissioned 5-23-1942 [YMS-84]. I assume the period between launch and commissioning is when it made its trip between the North Branch of the Chicago River to the Gulf of Mexico. The last, and 25th, minesweeper built for the Navy by Grebe was YMS-421. It was ordered 7-21-1943 and commissioned 3-3-1945.
|Neil Gale posted|
The Henry C. Grebe & Co. Inc. Shipyard was on the Chicago River at Belmont Avenue Building U.S. Navy Ships, across from Riverview Park, that built over 50 Navy Ships.
The shipyard’s existence was the reason that moveable bridges were kept in place on the north branch of the Chicago River. Lots of pictures and a great story to boot! Who knew?
CLICK TO READ ─► https://drloihjournal.blogspot.com/.../henry-c-grebe...
The YMS-84 was laid down on June 2, 1941, by Henry C. Grebe and Co., Chicago, IL. Launched March 3, 1942, and was completed May 23, 1942. The USS YMS-84 was a YMS-1 Class Auxiliary Motor Minesweeper built for the United States Navy and commissioned into service in May 1942. Notable for being the first US Navy Vessel built in Illinois during the Second World War, the YMS-84 and her crew steamed down the Mississippi River to New Orleans and then into the Gulf of Mexico, where she began training and convoy escort duties through early 1943.
It struck me that minesweepers are one of the few military assets that continue to do their primary job after a war is won. A lot of mines had to be removed from the English Channel. During the war, they just cleared lanes across the channel.
During the Korean War, they built 3 more that were delivered in 1953-54. [ShipBuildingHistory] So the photo below would be of one of the three ships for the Korean War. During WWII, they also built 20 tugs, and in 1945 they delivered four water tankers that had a displacement of 440 tons and were 174' long. [ShipBuildingHistory]
U.S. Navy minesweeper under construction at Henry C. Grebe & Co. shipyard on the west bank of the North Branch of the Chicago River, June 1952.
[We can see they built them from the bow backwards. I don't see any cranes big enough to lift in pre-built modules like they developed for Liberty Ships.]
|Photo from MaritimeMuseum|
|1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP|
The North Branch of the Chicago River, looking north from the west side of the Belmont Avenue Bridge, showing boats and a ship repair yard on May 27, 1920.
Charles M. LaBow: Also, in the distance, the smokestacks of the Commonwealth Edison, Northwestern Generating Station and the lift structure of the Shoot-the-Chutes at Riverview Park.
The North Branch of the Chicago River, looking north from the west side of the Belmont Avenue bridge showing a shipyard and boats on October 8, 1925.
|Lance Grey commented on MWRD's post|
Smokestacks of Northwest Power station @ Roscoe & California seen in lots of Riverview pics. Grebe shipyard did major work for the Navy.
Lance Grey Grebe's main business was custom luxury wooden yachts.
They built 25 of the 494 YMS class minesweepers built for WWII. They had steel hulls because magnetic mines, and wooden hulled minesweepers, were not developed until the Korea War.
|Lance Grey commented on Dennis' comment|
Thanks for the reminder, Dennis; The pic I put with the line of ships was probably a courtesy stop for a Photo-Op. I've seen this one posted by Riverview too. Otherwise just the abandoned houseboat junkers.
A sampling of the Grebe yachts. Except for the Wanigan III at the end, I have sorted the photos into chronological order.
|Lock Lomond, 1948, 67 foot|
|Full Moon, 1948|
|1950 55-foot flushdeck|
|Millie Jean, 1959|
|Lady Grebe, 1961, 48-foot yacht with a mahogany deck|
|1965 55-foot Flushdeck|
|In case the link does break, I saved this image.|
|In case the link does break, I also saved this image.|