As I am writing this article, it is one week before the Minnesota Paranormal Study Group sets foot upon the large ship but due to the available technology, this won't be publicly available at the time we investigate the ship. Instead, this article will be automatically pubished by the website itself on Sunday, November 29, 2009 at midnight.
I have decided to do this autopublish for security for my team as we have had problems with curious members of the public coming to a very openly public investigation site. We hope to be able to check into the history of the ship and the reports of activity without any incidents. We appreciate the fanship and following that we also have a job to complete by trying to document the claims of paranormal activity.
With that being said, I wanted to mention that the MNPSG is very excited to have been invited by the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, who manages the ship, to check out this very public and historical Duluth landmark. It will be the first investigation that has a full roster of active team members. A total of ten investigators have signed on to check out the 610 foot freighter that calls Duluth's port home.
We won't get into the haunted history quite yet as we will be doing our standard tour on November 28, 2009 with DECC staffers. In all honesty, we are not certain on the precise reports of activity on the ship and only know that the staff of the Haunted Ship attraction have had unusual experiences.
The MNPSG understands that there has been other teams who have explored the bowels of the Great Lakes ship but we are concerned with finding our own evidence and the team is not familiar with those investigation reports as they were never made public.
We have heard a lot from the general public about making more known about the actual historical stories behind the locations that we visit and this will be our first attempt at doing so.
THE GREAT LAKE FREIGHTER
The SS William A. Irvin was originally launched on November 10, 1937 in Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Company. The ship is a great example of a classic lake freighter and was a great asset within the fleet of the United States Steel (USS) operations.
The SS William A Irvin stretches 610' 9.75" feet overall with a beam (width) of 60 feet (18 m) and a depth of 32'6" feet. Her carrying capacity is 13,600 gross tons. The Irvin was one of few lakers built with a three-tiered bow cabin, as opposed to the standard two. The extra deck is used to house a suite of 4 guest cabins and a guest lounge. Also a part of the guest accommodations was a guest dining room located where the number two hatch would be on most lakers. Those parts of the boat are trimmed in oak paneling and walnut veneer with brass handrailings. The Irvin and her sisters were some of the first to be powered by DeLaval Cross steam turbines as opposed to the standard reciprocating triple expansion steam engines. The Irvin also included welding in much of her construction and was also the first to have all areas of the ship accessible from the interior of the ship which allowed the boat's crew to stay inside during rough weather. All parts of the Irvin, from the woodwork in the guest quarters to the brass in the engineroom, have all been well cared for by her dedicated volunteers. [source]
The Irvin made its maiden voyage on June 25, 1938 from Lorain, Ohio. It was the first of four ships within the vessel class for USS which included the Irvin, Governor Miller, John Hulst and Ralph H. Watson, each costing about 1.3 million dollars. The majority of the vessel's runs included a route from Duluth to Two Harbors carrying bulk materials.
She and her three sisters incorporated many technological features in their design and proved themselves excellent workers. The Irvin also hauled many company guests in the boat's exceptional luxury on behalf US Steel. She steamed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of US Steel for her entire career.
On August 27, 1940, the Irvin set a record by unloading 13,856 tons of ore in 2 hours and 55 minutes using Hulett Unloaders. This record still stands as of 2007 and is unlikely to be broken, because all ships today use automatic self-unloaders in the bottom of their cargo holds. The Irvin is one of few Great Lakes vessels to be retired still holding a current Great Lakes cargo record.
The Irvin had one of the smallest capacities when the ship entered final layup in 1978 due to the addition of the fleet's first 1000' oreboat.
The Irvin is powered by geared steam turbine engines, rather than the gigantic, two-story tall reciprocating engines normally used in older ore-carrying ships of the period. The steam comes from the boiler room in front of the engine room, powered by a gravity-fed coal burner. The coal bunker is directly above the boiler room, carrying up to 266 tons of coal total. This coal drops down to the twin-arm Firite spreaders, burning 1.2 tons of coal per hour to get the steam. The steam enters the first (high pressure) turbine, turning the shaft at 5,600 rpm. This is much too fast for the propeller to go, so the turbines use reduction gears to slow the propeller to only 90 rpm. The second (low pressure) turbine extracts additional power from waste steam from the high-pressure turbine, and their combined 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW) would move the Irvin around the lakes at 11.1 mph (17.9 km/h) fully loaded. Totally empty, the Irvin would sail at 12.5 mph (20.1 km/h), making it the slowest ship in the entire fleet. (Normally, ships at the time would move 12-14 mph. Ships were created during that period which could sail at 20 mph (32 km/h), but were scrapped or repowered immediately due to the high coal consumption.) Communication was possible using either the Chadburn telegraph or the sound-powered telephones. The Chadburn receives signals from the pilothouse, which instructs the engineers downstairs how fast the propeller needs to go. Sound-powered telephones can be used to communicate with other parts of the ship at any time, and are especially useful for blackouts or other electrical emergencies.
The Irvin retired from active duty in 1978 as a flagship of the USS fleet.
The Irvin sat in layup in West Duluth for 8 years until a non-profit organization purchased her for $110,000 for an addition to their convention center along the Duluth waterfront. The Irvin was repainted and sealed up before heading to her final dock near the Aerial Lift Bridge where she sits today.[source]
The DECC now operates tours on the freighter. During the month of October, the ship is turned into a haunted attraction where volunteers dress in Halloween costumes and decorate the ship. Even though the ship has living ghouls on it, there are reports from volunteers of paranormal activity during late night clean up. [source]
THE MAN BEHIND THE NAME
William A. Irvin was the fourth president of the U.S. Steel company. After his father died while he was in the eighth grade, he dropped out of grade school to support his mother. He went straight to the mines and worked his way up to the corporations, where he eventually became president. His first wife died giving birth to their fifth child, so although he and his second wife, Gertrude Irvin, never had any children, she did take very good care of the first five. William and Gertrude were the very first guests onboard the Irvin, and the entire Irvin family was still around after the ship was built, giving them an opportunity to sail as guests together. [source]
PHOTOS OF THE USS WILLIAM A IRVIN
The view from the top of the SS William A Irvin.
The SS William A. Irvin arriving in port. Year uknown.
The view from the DECC.
The Dining Room.
A rope holds the SS Irvin in port.
A life saver on the Irvin.
The guest bedrooms aboard the Irvin.
A souvenir from the sailors aboard the SS Irvin. Circa 1940s.
We hope that this historical file is enough to keep your interest in our investigation location while the MNPSG filters through all their investigative data for possible evidence to support or debunk the claims of paranormal activity.