Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Valley Camp Museum Ship

The 550 foot long freighter Valley Camp was built in 1917 and for 50 years worked on the Great Lakes. Today, she is a museum ship and open for visitors as shown by Orinda, above. This is a remarkable opportunity to actually tour one of these freighters and see what sailing on board might be like.

The Valley Camp is docked just down river from the Soo Locks and from the pilot house at the bow of the ship, provides a great view of the river. This view shows the deck, cargo hatches and a current freighter headed up to the locks.

The museum ship has been re-configured so that its former cargo holds, which are huge, are now set up with all many of maritime displays. The ship focuses on maritime history of the lakes as well as information about the Valley Camp in specific.

This shot shows the former cargo hold 3 and has 2 decks of exhibits that are well done. In the center is a large, scale model of the Valley Camp.

Rick and Orinda enjoyed the exhibits featuring different ships and the history of the area. This display featured a specific ship, its history and the related travels that it made through its long career.
Rick enjoyed the engine room tour which featured the Valley Camp's triple expansion steam engine that stood about 3 floors high! This power plant could push the Valley Camp at about 10 knots cruising speed. I will bet this equipment would have some great tales of 50 years use if it could talk!

Current ships,such as this "1,000 footer" were also covered. This is one of the ships that can barely squeeze through the 115' wide Soo Lock -- the ship is 110' wide, so there are only a couple of feet of clearance on either side. Wow -- talk about precision ship handling. We were glad that the weather was quite a bit warmer when we were visiting!

One of the most famous ship wrecks is the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Lost on Lake Superior in November, 1975, this 729' freighter was lost with all hands in a ferocious storm. The Valley Camp has a special section on the Fitzgerald as shown here. This is one of the actual lifeboats from the Fitzgerald that was found after she sank. Look at the large hole in the bow and try to imagine to force of the waves that could destroy a 40+' steel life boat.

This is even more apparent when we saw the other lifeboat shown here that had the entire stern ripped off. This was a very moving display, and gave mute testimony to the force of the huge waves that could destroy a 730' vessel. These lifeboats were found the next day, but no trace of the crew was ever found.

All in all, the Valley Camp was a very worthwhile and interesting stop in the Soo Locks area.

1 comment:

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Great tour, thanks. We also thought it was well worthwhile.