Shipbuilding on the Great Lakes
Long before current times many of the native Americans built birch bark canoes; some carried missionaries such as French explorer Jean Nicolet.
The Walk-in-the-Water was the first American-built steamer on the Great Lakes that was launched near Buffalo, New York, in 1818.She was 135 feet long with a 32-foot beam, she had a 30-foot smokestack between the two masts which had canvas to speed her along when the wind was favorable. Her 15-foot paddle wheels could carry passengers from Buffalo to Detroit in a day and a half.
During World War II there were about 21 shipyards in various ports on the Great Lakes that had over 100 ships being built for the war effort.
Celebrities the Dionne quintuplets – five girls born in 1934 who were the first known quintuplets to survive infancy – came to Superior, Wisconsin, in the early stage of World War II to spotlight the launch of five ships on the same day from the same shipyard. The Maritime Commission began the emergency shipbuilding program which gave large subsidies to shipyards on the Great Lakes and on the seacoasts to begin building a variety of ships.