Black and white aerial photograph of Holland and Lake Macatawa. The S.S. South American and the S.S. North American are visible in the bottom of the photograph.
The Georgian Bay Ships
The Alabama, the South American and the North American were all cruise ships owned by the Chicago, Duluth and Georgian Bay Transit Co. The ships sailed the Great Lakes during the summer months on cruises lasting anywhere from two days up to two weeks.
Various cities played a role in the cruises, as starting points, stopping points or destinations in-between. The list of Great Lakes cities included the following: Chicago, IL; Duluth, MN; Munising, MI; Mackinac Island; Sault St. Marie, MI; Detroit, MI; Cleveland, OH; Buffalo, NY; and, Toronto, Ontario.
In 1963, a 5 day cruise aboard the South American from Detroit to Duluth and back cost $154.50 per adult.
For decades, all three ships would dock in Holland, MI for the winter.
The Alabama was the smallest of the three ships. Crowned “Queen of the Great Lakes” when built in 1910, the Alabama was laid up in 1942 and sold in 1945 for service on Lake Erie.
In 1947 Georgian Bay reclaimed the Alabama and used it for service as a floating warehouse. The Alabama was docked at Montello Park for years, slowly deteriorating. In 1960 it was sold for salvage.
The SS South American was built in 1913 and launched on February 21, 1914. It caught fire on September 9, 1924 in winter lay-up at Holland, Michigan. Her upper works were rebuilt that winter.
Retired from regular passenger service in 1967, the South American was scrapped in 1992.
The SS North American was built in 1913 and launched on January 16, 1913.
In 1923 the boilers were converted to burn oil. In 1963 the North American was sold to the Canadian Holiday Co. of Erie, Pennsylvania. The company used her in cross-lake service between Erie, Pennsylvania and Port Dover, Ontario for one year until she was retired in 1964.
In 1967 the North American sank in heavy seas off Nantucket Island while being towed to Maryland. The wreckage was discovered in the summer of 2008.