Aboard SS Willis B. Boyer

| Willis B. Boyer | Titanic Toledo |


     5 June 2001

On Tuesday 5 June 2001, I was invited to come aboard SS Willis B. Boyer for the annual flag-raising and memorial service by the Western Lake Erie Historical Society (WLEHS). Built in 1911, Boyer was, at her time, the largest of the lake freighters, measuring in at 617 feet. She sailed the Great Lakes for 69 years, when she retired in 1980. Moored at International Park in downtown Toledo, Ohio, she was opened as a historical museum in 1987.

The memorial event began at 7:00, and I wound up arriving a tad late. I missed the flag raising and the tribute to deceased mariners by Rev. Ted Mitten, but I arrived just as Dr. David Jex, from the University of Toledo's Music Department, was getting ready to play Taps. Once that was played, there was a gun salute and we entered the ship through a door on the aft end that led directly into the engine spaces.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening, and I got to scamper about a big ship without a tour guide! You just can't beat that!

I arrived a little after 7. While I had missed the flag raising, I was just in time for Taps. I took this picture half hanging out of the car.
After boarding, I took off out onto the cargo deck.

Sitting on the port side, on cargo hatch #18 were parts of a propeller. The fairing cone, hub, and one of the blades are lined up. The piece on the right is a riding pawl, which allows the anchor chain to rise, but not to drop any further (thanks to Wade Streeter).
Coming around a bit, I snapped this view looking foreword towards the pilothouse. Hatch #18 is in the foreground.

In order to get this I had to wedge myself against a windlass. The loading crane runs through center, and I tried my best to keep the railing out of the picture.
I soon found my way onto the pilothouse. Equipment shown includes the two wheels, the binnacle, two radar viewers, and a telegraph. The bridge also offers a nice view down river.
Here's little ole me at the helm. If you don't like my drivin', then you'd better get off the sidewalk!

This picture was inspired by one Jeanne Nagel took a week prior.
Exiting the pilothouse, I took this picture of the cargo hatches looking towards the stern.

A guy wire runs through center, and the gangplank at bottom-left is used for special occasions aboard.
Coming around the front of the pilothouse, I photographed the steering pole and the decks below. The steering pole was rigged to give the helmsman in the pilothouse a point of reference on the prow to maneuver by.

Obviously, the spotlight aimed right at the bridge is an addition since the ship's been docked.
Hanging off the starboard bridge wing afforded this view of the prow and downtown Toledo. The really tall blue glass building is One Seagate, where Owens-Illinois is located. If stood on end, the 617 ft. long Boyer would stand taller than the 404 ft. tall Seagate building! The blue roof of the squat building behind it is COSI.

This photo's cityline was used on stationary for a manager at Dayton Freight's Toledo depot.
Standing on the port bridge wing, I took yet another picture of the cargo hatches.

The white vents along the sides are similar to those located on the roof of Titanic's #3 funnel deckhouse.
Leaving the foreword superstructure, I turned around to capture the area. There was a kid hanging from one of the ladderways, so I had to wait for him to let go.

The pilothouse is the very top level, but we all knew that, didn't we?
The same as above, but on a slightly different angle. I went a little ways down the special purpose gangplank for this one.

Note #1 cargo hatch and the hull plating.
Heading back towards the stern, I went down into one of the holds, number two to be exact. I tried to take some pictures, but none turned out. Too dark. Coming back up, I snapped a shot of the crane and aft superstructure.

Mounted on the mainmast is WTOL Channel 11's Freedom Cam,
with live image feeds from Boyer. However, sometimes it's rerouted to the camera on the roof of WTOL, so it's looking at Boyer across the river.
After that, I went inside for a bit and chatted with Eddie Goyette, Boyer's executive director. We had previously spoken at the "Last Log" lecture on 31 March 2001. He took me on a quickie tour of a few spots not on the tours, including the deck at the base of the funnel. The "C" on the funnel is the emblem of the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company. Note also the bell on deck.

By this time it was about 8:45, and getting pretty dark out.
Just after photographing the funnel, I turned around and stepped over to the rail. From there, I captured this view of the cargo deck and forward superstructure, with all the deck lamps on.
Moving inside, I wound up back at the engine room. The ship was built with a four cylinder triple expansion reciprocating engine that rose up through four decks. In 1952/53, Boyer had a refit that sadly included the removal of the reciprocating engine. In its place the high and low pressure turbines were installed. Now a part of the museum tour, the signs read:

"Reversing Turbine" (Top-left)  | "High Pressure Turbine" (Top-right)

"Turbine Engine" (Center)

"Low Pressure Turbine" (Lower-left)  | "Turbine Reduction Gear" (Lower-right)
Moving foreword along the catwalk, I managed a picture of the turbine, looking aft. This is a few steps higher than the previous picture, and to get it I had to wedge myself between a pipe and the railing.

The glowing orange thing at bottom-right is just an extension cord reflecting the flash.
Coming around the engine opening, there is a steam-powered dynamo, for electrical power. This is the starboard unit, with another on the port side.
Across the room from the turbine opening was the steering engine. This is the only piece of engineering machinery left from when she was built. You can see the giant toothed gear in the center of this picture.

The two orange signs read "Steering Engine" and "Steering Engine Controls."
Soon the time to leave had come. It was a little after 9, and had to go. As I left the ship, I took one last picture of her. I intend to return soon.

     6 June 2001

And return I did! The very next day, in fact! I went back to meet up with Eddie Goyette before going to a meeting of the Maumee Valley Model Boat Club. In the short amount of time before we left, I was given a tour of some of the lower areas of the ship that are off limits to guests! This tour included #1 cargo hold, some crew quarters, the anchor windlass and chain locker, an engineering space that holds the potable water (fresh water) tanks and bow thruster tube, and the keel! I managed to photograph a little bit of it, but I'd need to return with more time to just roam around.

Upon arrival, I took a photo as soon as I hopped out of the car. It was particularly rainy today, so that explains why I didn't run over to the bow for some pictures. Note the 10,000 pound stern anchor lying in the grass. The entrance to the ship is via the red gangplank near the stern.
Standing on the gangplank before entering I took a picture down the starboard side towards the bow. The name along the side can be seen in another picture later. Notice the strakes, where the hull plating overlaps.

Electric land wires enter the ship as seen below the "R."
Turning around and taking a few steps back allowed me to photograph the rudder and the two propeller blades sticking out of the water. The water is about 15 feet deep at this point.
Going down into the murky depths of the ship, all the way to the bottom. Here, we see the keel running to the forepeak, looking directly foreword. The horizontal beam runs down the centerline, and you can see the hull plating coming together at the bow. This is as far down and forward as you can get!
Looking down, we see the keel plate and the framing for the bottom of the ship. The exterior plating is about a foot and a half lower. The board is there to aid in better footing.
Here's the anchor windlass below deck!

The anchor chains go through the deck behind where the rope and the railing meet. The port-side chain can be seen to right.
Following the tour (sorry for lack of pictures), we went out on deck While I was waiting, I took a few photos. Here's looking down the starboard side towards the bow. The railing on the right can be seen in the above photo I took today, showing the name. It's that little platform extending from the side of the ship.
Then I turned around and got the funnel.

The WTOL "Freedom Cam" can be seen on the mast.
This final picture I took before leaving is the ship's name on the side. I had to lean way over to get this one. You can also see the gangplank where I came aboard.

     8 June 2001

On 8 June, I didn't go aboard Boyer. I wasn't even on the right side of the Maumee River to do so! I was at Rally-by-the-River on the premier day of the It's Reigning Frogs program. I was there to see the frog that we built on display. But while I was down there, I did see Boyer moored across the river, and I took a picture.

Here we can see Boyer way on the other side of the river.
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Engaged 5 June 2001 Updated 25 March 2005
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