Wouldn't it be nice to see a Great Lakes boat that spent much of its shipping career in Alpena return here as an educational tool and potential tourism attraction?
Great Lakes Steamship Society members are investigating the possibility of keeping the 110-year-old J.B. Ford from being sold for scrap. The cement carrier was a constant fixture on the Thunder Bay horizon for years as she sailed in and out of the Huron Portland/Lafarge docks. Society members are hoping to acquire the boat from Lafarge, but before they can they must raise the money needed to remove asbestos and lead paint from the boat. The hazardous material removal will not inexpensive.
Acquiring a historic Great Lakes cement carrier with a rich history that links it to Alpena would be exciting. Certainly it would add to the rich maritime tourism industry that keeps growing and mushrooming locally.
However, there still are many hurdles that need overcome, and the most pressing is acquiring the funds needed for a project of this magnitude.
For more information about the steamship society, their mission or to assist in the restoration efforts, go to www.greatlakessteamshipsociety.org.