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Thu, 2013-12-12 09:47 — Richard Jenkins
It was 110 years ago today, at noon Eastern time, that Miss Alia E. Hawgood christened the new steamer Edwin F. Holmes, and the 440-foot hull of what is now the J.B. Ford slid sideways into the waters of the Black River in Lorain, Ohio, and floated for the first time.
Today, the J.B. Ford becomes only the second large vessel in Great Lakes history to have reached the century-and-a-decade mark intact and afloat, and the only one to remain so today. The other one was also a cement carrier named Ford, the J.B. Ford's venerable fleetmate E.M. Ford, built in 1898 and now in the late stages of demolition at the Soo.
It is through the efforts of the Great Lakes Steamship Society, and through the generosity of the Ford's owners LaFarge Cement that the J.B. Ford is still around to celebrate her 110th birthday. If it were not for our interest in preserving the ship, and LaFarge's recognition of her historical significance, she would most likely have joined the sad parade of classic lakers heading for the scrapyard this year. However, it is, at this point, still only a temporary reprieve. There is still much work to be done, and a lot of money to be raised before we can take ownership of the Ford and keep her safe from scrap once and for all. With your help, we hope to be able to give her a 111th birthday, and many more to come.
Happy 110th Birthday J.B. Ford!