In 1842 a 97 foot iron hulled sidewheeler was fabricated in Pittsburgh and assembled in Buffalo for the United States Lake Survey Department. She was the first iron ship built in the United States and along with the gunboat USS Michigan
was the first constructed for the U.S. Government. She was launched as Col. Albert
(after John Albert the 1st officer in charge of the Topographical Engineers) but re-named Surveyor
in 1845. From 1843 until 1878 she conducted surveys of the upper lakes. Sold out of service at Duluth in 1878 she became the excursion boat Julia
on the St. Clair River. In 1883 she was sold to C.B. Freyberg of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, who used her to tow rafts on Green Bay. Early in the 1890's she was stripped and abandoned outside the harbor of Sheboygan. Most of her remains were removed in 1939 during the construction of the Sheboygan Yacht Club. But in 1992 during work at the club more of her pieces, including part of her stern, were recovered. These will now become part of an exhibition on the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
"The little steamer conducted surveys of the entire Upper Great Lakes between 1843 and the Civil War years, and then she was joined by the similar steamer Search
. In 1878 the Surveyor
was retired by the federal government and offered for sale at Detroit." The Nor'Easter January-February 1993.
The 97 foot long, iron hulled, steam side wheel paddle boat, Julia
was built as the Col. Abert
in 1843. She was named after John J. Abert the first officer of the Topographical Engineers. The 97 foot long vessel was prefabricated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and assembled in Buffalo, New York. The two high pressure steam engines powered two horizontal paddle wheels. The vessel was designed to conduct surveys on the Upper Great Lakes which it did so from 1843 until 1878. In 1845 the Julia
was renamed the Surveyor
. In 1878 the vessel was retired from the U.S. Government, renamed the Surveyor, and sold to Crockett McElroy to be used as a passenger boat on the St. Clair River. In 1883 she was again sold and used to tow lumber rafts on Green Bay and to the new owner's, C.B. Freyberg, saw mill on Washington Island. The official registry number was 75987.
October 1844: Aground in Lake Erie near Buffalo, New York during a terrible gale. The vessel was high and dry on a street in Buffalo, but got off without damage.
1845: Rebuilt as a sidewheel steamer (work perpendicularly instead of horizontally) and renamed the Surveyor
1845 thru 1878: Surveyed the harbors on the upper Great Lakes.
1878: U.S. Government sold the vessel to a private individual, Crockett McElroy, who renamed her and used her as the excursion boat Julia
on the St. Clair River.
1883: Sold to C.B. Freyberg who used the Julia
to tow rafts on Green Bay.