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Wrecking Tug Favorite

Favorite Tug BoatShortly after forming, Great Lakes Towing Company purchased two tugboats named Favorite. Favorite (1) was a harbor tug that GLT never put into service. Favorite (2) – pronounced with a long i – was a wooden former passenger vessel built in 1864 and converted to a tug in 1890. She burned at her St. Ignace dock, a total loss, on January 9, 1907.

Great Lakes Towing immediately commissioned a replacement – Favorite (3) – and she was launched later that same year. Favorite (3) was the largest and most powerful self-propelled salvage vessel ever built for Great Lakes service and was used for the toughest jobs. She was the first salvagor to be equipped with wireless (in 1914). Requisitioned for $324,500.00 by the U.S. Shipping Board in 1917, she served as U.S.S. Favorite in Maine, France, England, Panama and Peru up through the 1940’s.

Great Lakes Towing’s steel-hulled Favorite (4) was launched and looking for a home by 1919. The St. Ignace City Council purchased the Jamieson Dock for $3500.00 and sold it to GLT for $2800.00, taking a loss in order to convince GLT to home-port Favorite (4) here. By April 26, 1919, she was in residence. This dock now serves for freight and horses going to Mackinac Island and for ferry maintenance. Besides salvage and rescue work, Favorite (4) did ice-breaking in Whitefish Bay, the Soo Locks and the St. Mary’s River areas until U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw was commissioned in 1944. In 1926, Favorite (4) assisted in freeing almost 250 vessels from a massive ice jam in the St. Mary’s River. The U.S. Navy wanted to requisition her in the early part of World War II, but was thwarted by the U.S. Coast Guard and The Lake Carriers Association. She gave service until 1954. Later, she was donated for a museum at Sault Ste. Marie, but that never came to pass.

In 1984, to honor the good service of these various same-name tugboats, Great Lakes Towing christened their new steel floating drydock Favorite (5).

In July, 1915, the excursion steamer Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River, with a loss of 835 lives (above photo). Favorite was on this wreck for three weeks.