By Richard Palmer
Yes, the New York Central at one time owned a fleet of more than 20 package freighters on the Great Lakes through its wholly owned subsidiaries, Western Transit Co. and the Anchor Line that primarily sailed on the upper Great Lakes. The freighter, "Utica," shown here, was built in 1904 and was registered at 3,533 gross tons. She was 325 feet long and 44 feet wide. The "Utica" was launched April 28, 1904 at Wyandotte, Mich.by the Detroit Ship Building Co.
Many major eastern railroads indirectly owned large fleets of Great Lakes ships at one time. In 1915 the Interstate Commerce Commission, citing the 1912 Panama Canal Act, ruled that American railroads could not also engage in marine transportation, and the railroads had to divest themselves of these interests. Many of the vessels were consolidated under a new firm, Great Lakes Transit Corporation, for which the Utica ran from 1916 until 1945. That year, GLTC sold her to Chilean interests who renamed her "Quintay."
She was towed down the Chicago River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Illinois River, and eventually the Mississippi to New Orleans. She stranded and became a total loss on Penguin Island in the Messier Channel, Chile, on April 28, 1949, while enroute from Callao to Punta Arenas with a general cargo and drums of oil.