Side view of the S.S. Willis Boyer pilot house.Side view of the S.S. Willis Boyer pilot house.

In the shadow of the downtown Toledo skyline, moored alongside the rolling landscape of International Park, a splash of history and romance awaits you on the S.S. Willis B. Boyer. Careful, authentic restoration has made the ship come alive! Memorabilia, photography, and artifacts maintained and displayed by the Western Lake Erie Historical Society are all part of this nautical museum. The Boyer offers to all who visit the unique opportunity to experience the shipping lifestyle in a hands-on setting. As one of a few of its kind remaining, the Boyer will charm and intrigue you with its vastness, fascinating engineering design, and beautiful interior.

 

 

 

 

Ship's History

The S.S. Willis Boyer pilot house interior. The S.S. Willis Boyer pilot house interior. The steam ship Willis B. Boyer was built in 1911 in Ecorse, Michigan and was christened the Col. James M. Schoonmaker. She was owned by Shenango Furnace Company of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1969, she was purchased by the Interlake Steamship Company and chartered to Republic Steel. At this time, the ship's name was changed to honor Willis B. Boyer, who was president of the company. In 1972, the Boyer was sold to Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company and operated until the end of the 1980 season. She was purchased in June of 1986 by the City of Toledo for restoration as a museum ship, opening to the public on July 4, 1987.

When built, the Schoonmaker/Boyer was the largest bulk freighter on the Great Lakes. She is 617 feet long, 33 feet deep, and has 64-foot beam. She was rated at 8,603 gross tons with a carrying capacity of 15,000 tons. Her speed is 14.5 mph light and 13.7 mph loaded. The crew numbered about 23. Her first revenue trip was from Toledo to Sheboygan with 12,650 tons of coal - enough to fill about 357 railroad cars.

 

 

 

 

S.S. Willis B. Boyer Museum Ship Views*

View of the Wilys-Boyer's deck
Full length view of the Willys-Boyer
The office of the captain. A Gyrocompass is above the desk and the captains stateroom visible beyond.
The S.S. Willis Boyer chart table.
Officers' mess hall (dining room). This mess is filled with ornate oak paneling.
Another view of the officers mess hall.
Diving suit.
A door to the guest room in the bow of the the S.S. Willis Boyer.
Engine control panel with chadburn in foreground.
The First Engineer's room.
The steam turbine engines. As built, the ship burned coal and had a reciprocating steam engine. Conversion to oil and steam turbines occurred in 1951. The steam needed for all of this is obtained by burning fuel oil to boil lake water, which is why water purifiers were needed.
A view of the S.S. Willis Boyer from spar deck showing the pilothouse. Toledo's skyline in background.
The steam-powered electric generator.
A portion of one of the three holds. The sailboats provide scale.
Navigational instruments in the pilot house (including radar and the chadburn).
Navigational instruments: radar and chadburn below, rudder angle display, RPM, and depth gauge above.
The kitchen or galley.
The kitchen or galley. The galley has a large pantry and stainless steel refrigerators and cabinets. The entire galley was redone in the late 1970s at a cost of over one hundred thousand dollars.
The owner's cabin.
Side view of the S.S. Willis Boyer pilot house.
The S.S. Willis Boyer pilot house interior. The pilot house was manned by the captain, a mate and a wheelsman. The captain could communicate with the men forward and aft by a PA system. Note the two wheels, one as a back-up, as well as the two radio units and the radio direction finder used to plot the ship's position. There is a magnetic compass in the binnacle, a gyro compass like the one in the Captains Office, the chadburn to send signals to the engine room, and automatic pilot (added in later yeaers) for use out on the lake, and the bow thruster control which aided in docking and undocking.
The steering engine.
The S.S. Willis Boyer Texas deck. The Texas Deck is an observation or card room which affords an excellent view for guests .
View of the Wilys-Boyer's deckS. S. Willis B. Boyer

01/23 
start stop bwd fwd

 

 * Whereas the original exhibit presented these images in a gallery, the present format shows the same images as slides

Toledo's Attic and all contents herein are to be used for educational and scholarly purposes. U.S. and international copyright laws protect digital contents in this collection. Commercial use or distribution of the image is not permitted without prior permission of the copyright holder. Toledo's Attic by www.toledosattic.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.toledosattic.org.