ASME-Landmark:Steamboat William G. Mather


The tremendous growth of the steel industry during the first half of the 20th century increased the importance of shipping on the Great Lakes, particularly after the Mesabi Iron Range opened in Minnesota. Since it required four tons of coal to make one ton of steel, steel-producing towns such as Pittsburgh and Cleveland flourished quickly in states bordering coal-producing regions.

One company that developed during this time was the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, formed in 1891 as the result of the work of Samuel Mather (1817-1890) and his son, William G. Mather (1858-1951). As this empire grew, the company became a supplier and shipper of iron ore from the Great Lakes down to the coal-producing and steel-making region of the U.S.

The Steamship William G. Mather (1925) represents the evolution of mechanical engineering in Great Lakes shipping. Launched as a state-of-the-art ship for its time, the Mather served as a prototype, incorporating the latest advancements. Subsequent enhancements that extended the ship's economic life included a single oil-fired boiler, steam turbine propulsion, automatic power plant control, as well as a dual propeller bow-thruster. As a result, Great Lakes shipping remained efficient, productive, and competitive with other modes of transportation. The savings helped local iron ore sources maintain an economical edge over non-US suppliers.

In 1991 the Mather opened as a floating maritime museum ship at East Ninth Street pier in Cleveland and is now owned by the Harbor Heritage Society. See ASME website for more information