SR KIRBY

 

Str. “S. R. Kirby” – Composite Bulk Freighter, built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company, in Wyandotte, Michigan, as hull No. 100 in 1890. The “S. R. Kirby” was named after the father of Frank E. Kirby who also happened to be the incorporator and President of the Detroit Dry Dock Company. She was the largest “composite” vessel ever constructed on the Great Lakes, at nearly 300 feet long. Frank and his brother, Fitzhugh A. Kirby, had perfected (though they had not invented) the composite design in the 1880’s for this shipbuilding firm. By building the frames (“ribs” to the layman) of iron they got the strength of a metal vessel, but as she was sheathed in white oak they were able to also achieve great cost savings in both her design and in future repairs. Built for the North Western Transportation Co., of Detroit, she spent many years hauling coal, iron ore, and grain to Lake Erie ports. On May 8th, 1916 while heavily loaded with ore on Lake Superior, the “Kirby” went down with all but two of her crew of 22 men. Her wreck is still sought after by divers and the exact reason for her sinking remains a mystery.