Tugboat Champion finds home in Marine City
Pride and Heritage Museum displays
scale model with painting
A painting of the tugboat Champion towing eight schooners from Lake Huron to Lake Erie hangs proudly at the Community Marine
City Pride and Heritage Museum.
Museum President Gary Beals said two information sources have differing dates on the picture, but its safe to say it was
about 1880 when the artist captured the steady procession of the vessels under blue skies and a good wind.
Recently, they received another artifact that reflects the prosperous shipbuilding days when Marine City workers toiled
in shipyards: A scale model of the tugboat Champion. The model was donated by Diane Sharrow in memory of her father Edward
The Champion was built in 1868 in Detroit and lost by fire on Sept. 15, 1903 at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, said Beals. The schooners
being towed by her, in order, are: The Wells Burt, built in 1873 in Detroit; The Michigan, built in 1874 in Detroit; Elizabeth
A. Nicholson, built in 1873 in Port Huron: James P. Joy, with the date and place built unknown; Frances Palms, built in 1868
in Marine City; Sweetheart, built 1867 in Detroit; Sunnyside, built in 1863 in an unknown location, and Emma L. Coyne, built
in 1863 in Detroit.
What makes this tow important to this area is that the tow has two ships built in this area, Elizabeth A. Nicholson built
1870 in Port Huron and Frances Palms built 1868 in Marine City,said Beals. Also, the painting was done by Seth Arca Whipple
of New Baltimore.The painting shows the vessels off Windmill Point on the Detroit River.Sharrow donated the painting in honor
of her late father, Ed Sharrow.
Actually, I was born and raised in Algonac and now live in Illinois,she said,but once a muskrat always a muskrat.
Her father and mother, Pat, are well known in the local area. They owned Sharrows Service in Algonac-Clay Township for
50 years. Both have passed away since, said Sharrow. Her father died not too long after winning the model of the tugboat Champion
in a fundraising raffle for the Algonac-Clay Museum.
He thought she was great,said Sharrow. He used to tell my boys stories about Chris-Craft and how his dad worked there
during WWII on landing boats and such. My two sons thought it was a great model and asked if they could bring her home to
Around the holidays, she was reminiscing with her family and someone brought up an article in The Chicago Tribune about
the Eastland disaster. Sharrow said she thought the Eastland had originally been built in Marine City. That led to comments
on Algonac and Marine Citys shipbuilding days in the mid-1800s to early 1900s. Sharrow remembered that her father's great-grandfather
had drowned in the shipwreck of the George Nestor on Lake Superior in 1909.
Those family and nautical stories led to our decision that the Champion really belonged somewhere where more people could
enjoy her and near where she was built and worked,she said. We figured that the Algonac-Clay Museum had raffled her so perhaps
the Pride and Heritage Museum in Marine City could offer her a fitting home. Both local museums are such an asset to the Downriver
She wasn't aware that the expressive painting of the tugboat Champion in service had already made its home in the museum.
I am glad the Museum wanted her for their collection,she said,and I am so glad that local history, including maritime
history, is being preserved.
This is the window Gary Beal and John Foley installed in the new
bathroom they built at the museum.. It's an old window from city hall. Isn't it beautiful!!
The museum has been restored to its original design.
Some classic cars visited the museum this summer,
Marine City Pride and Heritage Museum
405 S. Main Street
Marine City, MI 48039
Voice News, Time Capsule
Museum Opening June 2nd, closes October 28.
Open On Saturdays and Sundays, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
General Meeting Date
3rd Saturday of every month, 10:00 am
with the exception of (Dec, Jan )
Pride and Heritage Museum
The museum's artifact and archival collections bring
Marine City history and heritage to life in three distinctive galleries that includes the Maritime gallery, Lifestyle gallery,
and Business & Commercial gallery. Highlights of the exhibits include a 4 ½ by 36 foot diorama of the Belle River in 1885.
When 5 shipyards were engaged in producing some of the finest ships on the Great Lakes; complete rooms with furnishings dating
back 150 years; and a blacksmith shop built on the grounds of the Museum. Saturday and Sunday from 1 - 4 pm from first weekend
of June to mid-October. Tours for 10 or more are arranged by appointment