J.S. Ashley - Wilmington, Delaware


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J.S. Ashley is seen in this photograph possibly laid up at Cleveland, Ohio. She was lying just inside the New York Central drawbridge on the Cuyahoga River. The drawbridge was later owned by Conrail, a company formed by the merger of several Northeastern railroads and today is operated by CSX who bought out Conrail's assests along with Norfolk Southern in the late 1990s. Thanks Bill Kloss for identifying the location.

Great Lakes Classics - J.S. Ashley
By contributing Editor George Wharton

The steel hulled bulk carrier J. S. Ashley was built as hull #371 by the American Ship Building Company of Lorain, Ohio in 1909 for the Kinney Steamship Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The carrier was named in honour of Mr. John Stanley Ashley who was the vessel and coal shipping manager of M. A. Hanna Company at the time. The vessel's overall dimensions were 525 feet (160.0m) in length, 54 feet (16.46m) beam, and 30 feet 3 inches (9.22m) in depth; tonnage figures as built being 6,361 GRT, 4,789 NRT, and a capacity of 9,450 dwt. Power for the J. S. Ashley came from a second hand 1,800 i.h.p. quadruple expansion steam engine with two coal fired Scotch boilers. The engine was salvaged from the wrecked steamer Lafayette (built in 1900); which, while towing the barge Manila, was driven by a fierce storm onto the rocks at the north end of Encampment Island, just northeast of Two Harbors, Minnesota on Lake Superior November 28, 1905. The 150 foot (45.72m) salvaged stern section with the engine arrived at Duluth, Minnesota on August 31, 1906.

The J. S. Ashley was sold on May 12, 1936 to Pioneer Steamship Company (Hutchinson & Company, managers), Cleveland, Ohio with the intention of converting this vessel to become their first self unloader. The contract was awarded to American Ship Building Company of Cleveland, Ohio with the conversion being completed in 1937. Pioneer planned to have the vessel carry limestone to Inland Steel's mill in East Chicago, Illinois. During the winter of 1951/52, the vessel was repowered with a 2,500 i.h.p. 5 cylinder Skinner Unaflow steam engine and 2 oil fired Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers. This installation was completed by Rud Machine Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

On July 6th, 1958, J. S. Ashley became the first self unloader to load at the Northern Pacific Railway dock at Superior, Wisconsin. This load was delivered to Inland Steel's mill located at Indiana Harbor, Indiana.

There were several recorded accidents while the J. S. Ashley was part of the Pioneer fleet. Four of the more serious are outlined here. On October 17, 1957, while attempting to dock in Detroit, Michigan with a load of limestone, strong currents carried the vessel too far downstream into shallow water striking and rubbing the bottom on its port side below the water line. Though seaworthiness was not affected, repairs completed at drydock in Toledo, Ohio totaled in excess of $20,000.00. Then, on June 26, 1959, the vessel rubbed bottom heavily while docking at DePere, Wisconsin again laden with limestone. Damage included the buckling of 14 shell plates and the loosening of many channel floor frames, brackets, and rivets. This accident was followed shortly after when on July 13, 1959, the J. S. Ashley again rubbed hard while docking. This incident occurred at Port Inland after arriving in ballast from Indiana Harbor. The damage caused by both 1959 accidents was repaired in August of that year at Lorain, Ohio, the cost of repairs in excess of $44,000.00. The vessel was involved in a collision with the Peter Robertson (1) on Lake Erie just north of Cleveland, Ohio on June 16, 1961 causing starboard bow damage.

The J. S. Ashley was purchased by American Steamship Company (Boland & Cornelius, managers), Buffalo, New York in 1961 and renamed Fred A. Manske (2) in 1962. The new name was in honour of Mr. Fred Arthur Manske who was President of National Gypsum Company of Buffalo, New York at the time. A KaMeWa bow thruster was added to the vessel in 1962 and a new tank top fitted in the spring of 1963.

The Fred A. Manske remained laid up in South Chicago through 1975 and was acquired in March, 1976 by Dale Transports Ltd. (Westdale Shipping Ltd., managers), Mississauga, Ontario and renamed Brookdale (2). The Brookdale's maiden voyage was from Grand Haven, Michigan with a load of sand for Hamilton, Ontario passing through the Welland Canal May 2, 1976. The vessel ran aground in the St. Clair River by Port Lambton, Ontario August 29, 1976. With the assistance of 3 tugs, the Brookdale was freed with only minor damage on September 1, 1976. On July 17, 1980, she lost her her self unloading boom overboard at Windsor, Ontario while loading salt during a severe storm. The vessel was taken to Buffalo, New York to unload then on to Toronto, Ontario to lay up. Damage was assessed at about $2 million for repair and consequently the vessel was sold to A. Newman & Company of St. Catharines, Ontario in late September for scrapping.. Brookdale arrived at Newman's Port Maitland, Ontario scrap yard October 13, 1980 after which the vessel's boilers were removed by Herb Fraser & Associates of Port Colborne, Ontario for installation in the Lac Ste. Anne (a 1924 built Great Lakes bulk carrier owned by the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Company) during the winter of 1981.


If you know more about this ship - trade routes, cargoes, accidents, layups, drydockings etc.etc..
please feel free to contact George Wharton or Myself so that the information can be included.

Posted: November 25, 2002       Last Revised: December 13, 2002
Photo by M.J. Brown (Jeff Cameron's collection) - Copyright © - 2002

Site updated and maintained by Jeff Cameron

ubject: J S Ashley, Fred A Manske, Brookdale Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2003 21:27:38 EST From: LouD31M066@aol.com To: jacameron@wellandcanal.ca I sailed on Fred A Manske as Deckhand amd Deckwatch from May 6 1967 to end of after end lay up January 19, 1968. She was a Gypsum carrier fist and foremost at that time. Typical run would be coal from Toledo to a powerplant at St Clair, Marysville or Essexville (Michigan) unload and proceed to load Gypsum at either Alabaster or Port Gypsum then to either Waukegan Illinois or Gary Indiana to unload (took 24 to 36 hours) then to load coal for Muskegon, Michigan unload and go to Port Inland and load limestone for Cro Island on Saginaw River unload then to Alabaster or Port Gypsum to either River Rouge or Cleveland then back again to Toledo to load coal. We hauled two loads of salt, a load of Dolamite and sometimes a load of large chunks of limestone to Cleveland steel mills but mostly the coal and Gypsum cycle.I believe we hauled 110 cargos that season and we were in shipyards for a total of about two weeks for various causes. Drydocked in Toledo to replace a number of cracked bottom plates and a couple of deck plates repaired at Chicago, a thrown bucket replaced at Wisconsin Shipyard, a visit from Defoe Shipyard to replace shaft in unloading gear and a week at Toledo getting Dow Treatment to boilers that had gotten loaded up with oil. An interesting period of my life and probably the last