Great Lakes Book Club Pick, January 2023
A lively history of the most majestic ships to ever ply the Great Lakes
Through much of the nineteenth century, steam-powered ships provided one of the most reliable and comfortable transportation options in the United States, becoming a critical partner in railroad expansion and the heart of a thriving recreation industry. The aesthetic, structural, and commercial peak of the steamboat era occurred on the Great Lakes, where palatial ships created memories and livelihoods for millions while carrying passengers between the region’s major industrial ports of Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toronto. By the mid-twentieth century, the industry was in steep decline, and today North America’s rich and entertaining steamboat heritage has been largely forgotten. In Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes, Joel Stone revisits this important era of maritime history, packed with elegance and adventure, politics and wealth, triumph and tragedy. This story of Great Lakes travelers and the beautiful floating palaces they engendered will engage historians and history buffs alike, as well as genealogists, regionalists, and researchers.
A deftly crafted and unique history, Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes is as impressively well written as it is extraordinarily informative.
--Paul T. Vogel, Midwest Book Review
Joel Stone is Senior Curator for the Detroit Historical Society and coeditor of Border Crossings: The Detroit River Region in the War of 1812.