Have you heard the story about how Captain Alexander McDougall navigated the waters to the Atlantic in his whaleback the Charles W. Wetmore?
Launched in 1891, the Wetmore was the first whaleback steamer to touch salt water. Since the steamer was 264 feet in length, it could not fit through the canals along the St. Lawrence Seaway. McDougall decided that he would run what is currently the St. Lawrence River rapids to get to the Atlantic Ocean. He took her safely through. Visitors can learn how he did it when they visit the SS Meteor’s new exhibits this summer.
Stories like this, about McDougall, the whalebacks he built, the American Barge Company and more, are depicted on the seven new exhibit panels that were revealed in May. The stories in this exhibit are unique to Superior, to McDougall and to the whalebacks he created, and they cannot be found on Google. It’s simply not available outside of the museum itself.
Prior to this installation, the exhibits have not had a major update since the early 1980s. The new panels bring the museum’s focus back to McDougall and all things whaleback, instead of a general maritime approach.
Development of the new exhibits has been two years in the making. Countless hours of research, writing, design and proofing, not to mention the gathering of photos and artifacts, have gone into the project.
Part of the research the team conducted in preparation for the exhibits was to ask the friends of the museum what they wanted to see. The overwhelming response was for more whaleback, more McDougall and more of Superior’s harbor history. That’s exactly what visitors will find in the Meteor’s cargo hold.
The new and revised information is something that whaleback enthusiasts can be proud of. The exhibit tells our story.
For more information on world’s last remaining above-water Whaleback ship and tours visit our SS Meteor page.