The Lucius Newberry
was Lake Geneva's more exquisite sidewheelers "complete with a luxurious decor that included crystal, brass and polished fixtures, and even oil paintings." Built by John French, one of the largest on Lake Geneva, she could carry up to 700 passengers, was constructed at a cost of $16,000. The keel was laid in the fall of 1874 and the vessel was launched on April 24, 1875. On June 8th she made her trial trip becoming a regular passenger steamer until December 19, 1891 during which she carried passengers, mail and cargo.
During the Mexican-American War a bronze bell was taken from a Mexican cathedral and eventually fitted out on the Lucius Newberry.
John Wilson of the Anchor Line Company purchased the Lucius Newberry in 1879. He proceeded to overhaul the machinery and re-planked the hull and in general repaired the vessel from stem to stern. He added hogging trusses, large steel frames with steel rods attached to the bow and stern, making the hull much stiffer. Policies on board changed! No liquor, cigars or confections were allowed on board. The crew was required to wear uniforms and a band was hired.
In 1890, Mr. Wesley Johnson purchased the Lucius Newberry and changed her name to City of Lake Geneva and renamed the company The Lake Geneva Steamer Line.
On Dec. 9, 1891 at 4 in the morning the Lucis Newberry caught fire (reasons unknown) the dock keeper untied the stern lines, the burning ship floated til the hull sank around what was thought to be Allerton estates. However, rumors reported it to have sank in Geneva Bay. In 1971 an expedition was formed to try and locate the Lucis Newberry in Allerton but to no avail. On July 1, 1981 by accident the boat was found and salvaged by a group of local divers. The city would not support their salvage operations.
The salvage divers first found the wreck in July 1, 1981. After repeated dives and the taking of the artifacts, it was confirmed to be the Lucius Newberry/City of Lake Geneva. The rudder, anchor,banding iron were some of the few items brought. The salvage crew invested $17,000 in this expedition and then called for help from the city. A heated debate then arose about the fact of who owned the ship in the first place. Inland lakes are protected by law through the DNR. No permits were issued from either them or SHSW. The city did not fund their project and some of the artifacts were sold in order to cover costs. Highly ilegal, however nothing was ever done by the DNR or SHSW to protect the site. There were also repeated incidents of threats by the salvage crew to ward off any other bounty hunters.
In 1982 the boiler, steam engine and paddle wheel assembly were pulled from the lake. They will be "stored until it can be displayed at a permanent location". In 1981 divers had removed a large 418 pound anchor, charred planking, piping and numerous other items. that they had thought came from the Lucius Newberry.