D.I. Vacation Properties
Fort Drummond
D.I. Yacht Haven
Catching the Ferry
by Gerry Bailey
Access to Drummond Island has always been by boat, be it an ancient canoe or the modern ferry, or any of a host of boat possibilities utilized over the years. At times it seems that the very pulse of the island is dictated by the Ferry Schedule and the flow of vehicles to and from the ferry boat docks. These boats and their crews have provided countless safe passages, to residents and visitors alike, across the DeTour Passage of the St. Mary’s River under sometimes calm and, on occasion tumultuous and difficult conditions.
 
Over 100,000 round-trip vehicle tickets and nearly 200,000 round-trip passenger tickets are purchased each year. The efforts and safety records of the boats and crews are a testament to the quality of service they provide.
 
While crossing the St. Mary’s River, remember that you are crossing one of the busiest waterways in the world. The St. Mary’s River is an international waterway with a total of 4,730 cargo carriers passing Drummond Island during the 2007 season.  This number does not include fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks, etc. The largest cargo recorded in the 2007 season was 65,386 net tons of coal by the M/V INDIANA HARBOR on 14 August 2007.
 
In a richly detailed history of the Drummond Island Ferries, Ferry Fare, (available at the Drummond Island Historical Museum), Paul Cross has documented these vessels. The information which follows is drawn from his work.
 

 
Photo by P. Strom
CLYDE - 36’ fantail launch owned by Daniel Murray Seaman and lost in a collision with a freighter in 1908. “Scheduled” mail, passenger and freight service from Drummond to points in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
 
NAIDA – 40’ motor launch/light duty tug owned by D M. Seaman, (1908-1922), then by Floyd Seaman, (1922 – 1924), initially providing the same service as the Clyde. From 1915, was used to carry vehicles on the Drummond settlement – DeTour run. Began using the township dock on the channel after 1922 and retires in 1924.

DRUMMOND – 50’, similar to but heavier that the Naida. Built on Drummond Island by Philo Leonard, was specifically designed for carrying 2 to 3 automobiles, owned by J. S. Church and Earle Bailey. Lost to foreclosure in 1924, and later returned to channel service by Joe Krol to replace the Phillip after fire.
 
PHILLIP – 64’ wooden schooner converted to coal fired steam power carrying 4 to 5 automobiles. Owned by F, Seaman, l924-1930, then sold to J Krol.   Burned in winter of 1930-1931.
 
WALLAN – 60’ wooden hulled, diesel powered, ice-breaking car ferry, built by Philo Leonard on Drummond of Drummond Island timber, specifically for the Drummond – DeTour run. Commissioned by Walter Pardridge and Landon Townsend, sold in 1943 to the Chippewa County Road Commission and renamed Sam C. Taylor. Operated as part of the county road system until 1947.
 
DRUMMOND ISLANDER – 59’ all steel, ice-breaking auto ferry commissioned by the county in 1947. Original capacity of 7 cars, powered by 120 horsepower, 12 cylinder Caterpillar marine engine. Lengthened to 80’, accommodating 10 cars, and repowered by a supercharged 6 cylinder Cummins in 1976. Deck space enlarged in 1991 to accommodate 12 cars. Ferry service was taken over by the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority under a Federal program in the mid 70’s.
 
DRUMMOND ISLANDER II – 59’, twin engined, 12 car capacity, commissioned in 1961.   Steel hulled but with out ice-breaking capacity. Removed from Drummond Island service in 1989. Subsequently re-assigned to Neebish Island service.
 
DRUMMOND ISLANDER III – 108’ with 37’ beam, twin engine with a 25 car capacity and ice-breaking capability. Delivered in November 1989 and is still in service.
 
DRUMMOND ISLANDER IV - 148’ with a 43’ beam, twin 960 horsepower Caterpillar diesels, 32 car capacity. Hull #108, built by Basic Marine, Inc. of Escanaba, MI to a design by Timothy Graul Marine Design of Sturgeon Bay, WI. Delivered in November 2000.
 
Normally, a visitor’s first experience of Drummond Island is from the deck of a ferry boat. These ferries make for a rich and varied history of service to the island.
Drummond Island Tourism Association
P.O.Box 200 Drummond Island, MI 49726
906-493-5245 or 800-737-8666
Email: drummondislandtourism@alphacomm.net


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