Lake Boats

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on July 19, 2020.

(Return To Utah Railroads Index Page)


During the 1870s, there were three steam-powered boats working on Great Salt Lake.

Dale L. Morgan wrote in his book, "The Great Salt Lake", that the people of Corinne wanted to become a port on Great Salt Lake, taking advantage of the Bear River being 13 feet deep at the landing in Corinne and 300 feet wide. A map from 1871 showed routes on the lake for "Connor's Line of Boats," as plying between Lake Point and Monument Point at the head of Spring Bay at the north end of the lake.

Kate Connor

"In 1868 Gen. Connor built and launched a small steamer, named the Kate Connor, for carrying railroad ties and telegraph poles from the southern to the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake. The ties were for the Union Pacific. This appears to have been the first steamer that navigated the lake, though in the San Francisco Bulletin, July 29, 1856, it is stated that there was one at that date. In 1869 an excursion steamer was built, and in 1870 a boat costing $45,000, first named the City of Corinne and then the General Garfield. In 1879 the latter was still used mainly for excursions, as there was little freight to be had. At this date there was a considerable yachting fleet on the lake, the first, and for some years the only yacht, being built by the Walker Brothers." (Bancroft's History of Utah, 1890, page 755)

The steam engine for the Kate Connor was built by William J. Silver at his Silver Iron Works in Salt Lake City. Mr. Silver had come to Utah in 1859 and had opened his iron works "three years later" in 1862. He built the first steam engine in the territory, and he also built the first steam engine to be used on Great Salt Lake. The boat was called the "Kate Connor" and was built for General P. E. Connor. In 1893, when he bought the old Sun Foundry in Provo and put it into operating condition, Silver was the only member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in the Utah territory. In later years, Silver Iron Works became Silver Brothers Iron Works, being managed by Silver's three sons, John, Hyrum and Joseph. William Silver was born in London, England, came to Utah in 1859 and died at age 86 on November 6, 1918. (Daily Enquirer, June 6, 1893; Salt Lake Herald, May 6, 1897; Salt Lake Mining Review, November 15, 1918)

(Read more about the Silver Brothers foundry and machine works)

The Kate Connor was what was known as a flat-bottom scow, with pointed ends. It was 90 feet in length and 30 feet in width. The machinery was supplied by William J. Silver, with the engine coming from Chicago and the boiler coming from San Francisco. The steam engine was the second such machinery in Utah Territory, with the first being manufactured by Silver from materials imported to Salt Lake City. That first steam engine went into service on November 28, 1868, being used to drive wood-working machinery. The Kate Connor was built on the Jordan River, "just below the White Bridge." The boat was launched on December 10, 1868. That first steam engine was a brass casting, with an iron framework made from discarded iron parts and wheels from broken down wagons. (Salt Lake Herald, May 6, 1897; Salt Lake Mining Review, January 30, 1906)

Kate Connor: Gammon Hayward, a convert from England, was the builder of one of the first boats that was run on Great Salt Lake. He was born in the County of Kent January 7, 1828. His father was a boat builder and he worked with him until he left for America. He was married June 1, 1850, to Sarah Ann Cripps. They joined the Church in 1850 and left England three years later with their two children, Elizabeth, and Henry John, on the ship International arriving at New Orleans in April 1853 and in Salt Lake City in September 1853. There were no boats to build in Salt Lake City, so for a time he engaged in carpentry work on buildings and mills. The first boat built by him was the "Kate Connor," built for General Connor and named in honor of his daughter. It was used to carry ties across the lake to Promontory at the time of the building of the railroad from California in 1868. It is said that this boat finally sank, loaded with ore, in a deep part of the channel close to the smelter. For years parts of it could be seen when the river was low, but gradually the smokestacks rusted away and sand covered its rotting wooden hulk until now no trace of it remains. -- Mrs. C. H. Hayward (Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 2, by Daughters of Utah Pioneers) (Gammon Hayward moved to San Francisco in 1879 where he died on February 27, 1883; he was buried in Salt Lake City)

The Kate Connor was named after P. E. Connor's only daughter, Catherine Francis Connor, born in Salt Lake City in 1863. Patrick Connor had married Johana Connor, of the same county in Ireland, in August 1854. (Salt Lake Democrat, March 28, 1887; March 30, 1887)

Katherine "Kate" Frances Connor was born in Salt Lake City on September 7, 1863. After 1870, General Connor's wife and children lived in Redwood City, California. In 1872, Kate visited her father, and again in 1879. Her married name was Kate Connor Oliver and she lived until 1933. (Varley, pp. 172, 270, 291)

"Colonel Connor was ordered to Utah in May 1862, his command consisting of the third California infantry and a part of the second California cavalry, afterward joined by a few companies from Nevada, and mustering in all about seven hundred strong." (Bancroft's History of Utah, 1890, page 611)

(The railroad between Ogden and Corinne was completed in April 1869; another railroad line was completed between Ogden and Salt Lake City in December 1869.)

(The potential traffic for the steam boats on the lake, the mines south of the lake near Stockton, went away with the failure of the mines and pioneering smelter due to the high costs of transportation out of Utah, and the high cost of coke and other raw materials needed to smelt the ore.)

(Patrick Edward Connor died on December 17, 1891. He was born on March 17, 1820 in County Kerry, Ireland, came to U. S. fairly early, and enlisted in the Army in 1839.)

June 1870
By June 1870, the Kate Connor had been "thoroughly overhauled and refurnished with new machinery, ready to be chartered to excursion parties by the day." The boat's captain was John Howard. The announced excursions took place from the piers at Corinne and at Lake Side, near Farmington. (Salt Lake Tribune, advertisements in issues for June 28 through July 23, 1870)

The Kate Connor came to an unlucky end sometime in 1871, when it sank in the river under a heavy load of ore. (Dale L. Morgan, The Great Salt Lake, page 299)

October 3, 1871
The "Kate Connor" arrived at her pier near Corinne, after a stormy trip across the lake. The captain was J. B. Cook. (Daily Corinne Reporter, October 3, 1871)

March 20, 1872
The "Kate Connor" was being prepared for "summer commerce." (Daily Corinne Reporter, March 20, 1872)

March 30, 1872
The "Kate Connor" was sold to Bishop Layton, and completed its trip from Corinne to the harbor at Kaysville without problem. The captain was John B. Cook. Bishop Layton planned on using the boat in the lake trade. (Daily Corinne Reporter, March 30, 1872)

June 1, 1872
There were three boats on the lake: "City of Corinne"; "Lady of the Lake"; and "Kate Connor". Plans were announced for a fourth boat, to be a side wheeler of shallow draft. (Daily Corinne Reporter, June 1, 1872)

November 14, 1872
"Sail Boat. -- The 'Kate Connor,' owned by Bishop Layton, which was lately damaged by a severe storm on Salt Lake, is to be converted into a sail boat. Her engine will be transferred to the grist mill at Kaysville." (Utah Mining Journal, November 14, 1872)

(Many sources have cited the above intended sale, but the engine and boiler were apparently actually sold to a different buyer, see below.)

March 18, 1873
The engine and boiler of the "Kate Connor" were sold to Richard B. Margetts and had been installed at his brewery. The six-horsepower engine went into service "yesterday" and was capable of grinding thirty bushels of malt per hour. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 20, 1873; Deseret News, March 26, 1873, citing the daily edition of March 19th)

(Richard B. Margetts started his Utah Brewing Company in 1878, which continued after his death in 1881, until at least 1933.)

July 7, 1873
Salt Lake, Sevier Valley & Pioche locomotive arrived, along with two flat cars. The locomotive was named "Kate Connor", after General Connor's daughter. The locomotive was built by the Brooks Locomotive Works, of Dunkirk, New York. (Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 8, 1873, "yesterday"; Deseret Evening News, July 10, 1873)

(The locomotive name was changed to "Oquirrh" after the original railroad planned west from Salt Lake City, was sold in August 1874 to a new company called Utah Western Railway. Construction started at Salt Lake City in November 1874, and the line was completed in February 1875 to Lake Point, where the steam boats docked, and 19.5 miles west of Salt Lake City.)

Lady of the Lake

July 21, 1871
John W. Young had purchased a boat in New York and had it shipped to Salt Lake City by railroad, for the purpose of excursions along the Jordan River between the lake and the Jordan River bridge. The boat was of "light draft and not too long to wind up and down the Jordan between the Jordan bridge and the Lake." Trial trips were made on the East River in New York City. The boat arrived at the Utah Central depot on July 21, 1871. The boat measured 10 feet in width by 30 feet in length, and drew just 22 inches of water when loaded. (Salt Lake Herald, June 30, 1871; July 23, 1871, "Friday evening")

August 3, 1871
John W. Young's boat "Lady of the Lake" was to be launched into the Jordan River on either August 4th or August 5th "to-day or tomorrow", after being moved "yesterday" from the depot on board one of the cars of his railroad. (Deseret News, August 9, 1871, citing the daily edition of Friday August 4th)

August 29, 1871
Excursions on the "Lady of the Lake" boat began on August 29th, sailing between the dock about a quarter mile below the Jordan bridge, leaving at 10am and 2pm, remaining at "Pettit's" for about an hour, and returning at 1pm and 5pm. The trip was reported as taking forty minutes down river to reach Pettit's, and an hour and five minutes up river to return to the dock. (Salt Lake Herald, August 27, 1871; August 30, 1871)

September 5, 1871
A description of an excursion on board the Lady of the Lake that took place on September 5, 1871. Pettit's was reported as being four miles by straight line north of the dock (about a quarter mile north of the bridge), and eight miles by river travel. The site at Pettit's was near to a point as far north as the boat could travel due to split in the channel that lowered the water level of the river. A dyke was being constructed, with completion projected in about two weeks, which would force the water into a single channel and allow the boat access to the lake. The boat was described as having accommodations for 18 people in the cabin and 40 people on the deck. The steamer was built in Jersey City, and its captain was John N. Pike. Pettit's was described as having a pleasant grove of shade from poplar trees. (Salt Lake Herald, September 6, 1871)

(The location of Pettit's, about eight miles north of North Temple Street, appears to be about even with today's Foxboro Elementary School, at about 600 North in North Salt Lake. There appears to be a series of bends in the river that have since been straightened.)

September 1871
During mid September 1871, a boat by the name of 'Lady of the Lake', owned by John W. Young, was running up and down the Jordan River. (Deseret Evening News, September 14, 1871)

June 15, 1875
"The Lady of the Lake went down with all on board, on Tuesday. She was sailing from Lake Side (Farmington) to Lake Point (Garfield), at the time of the disaster, under convoy of the steamer Garfield. This is the first vessel wrecked on Great Salt Lake since the terrific storm of 1870." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 17, 1875, "Tuesday")

June 15, 1875
The Lady of the Lake was stranded near Lake Side "for a considerable time" "until yesterday" and was to be towed to Lake Point by the General Garfield. During the tow, a strong wind rose and the waves caused the rope to snap, the Lady of the Lake sunk out of sight. (Deseret News, June 23, 1875, citing the daily issue for Wednesday June 16)

The Salt Lake Herald, in its coverage of the sinking of the boat, noted that the Lady of the Lake had been on the beach at Lake Side "almost since her advent into the Territory." (Salt Lake Herald, June 17, 1875)

(A second "Lady of the Lake" was built in Fall 1876. This boat was a two-masted schooner, 30 feet long and 14 feet wide and was used by Seymour Miller and his family to transport sheep to Fremont Island. The boat was sold to the Wenner family after they took ownership of the island; they renamed it "Argo" and the boat was said to still be in service as late as 1909. See Utah Historical Quarterly, Spring 1988, Volume 56, Number 2)

City of Corinne

The following comes from the Beehive Archive, by the Utah Humanities Council, May 23, 2008:

One hundred and thirty-seven years ago, the steamboat City of Corinne was launched into the wide channel of the Bear River near the settlement that shared its name. Financed by a group of businessmen under the auspices of the Corinne Steam Navigation Company, the vessel ended up costing more than $40,000. Its engines were built in Chicago and then were shipped around South America to California, where they were transferred to a Utah-bound train. When it was finished, the boat was 150 feet long and stood three decks high. At its stern was the broad paddle wheel that would propel it through the briny waters of the Great Salt Lake.

The City of Corinne was not the first steamboat to ply the lake's waters. In 1868, Patrick Edward Connor, formerly the commander of the California Volunteers stationed at Fort Douglas, launched the Kate Connor to haul railroad ties and telegraph poles across the lake. But in the end, the Kate Connor was too small and underpowered to prove effective. With new mines in Tooele County digging hundreds of tons of gold and silver out of the ground each month, but with no railroad connection nearby, a boat like the City of Corinne stood to make a killing in the shipping business going between Lake Point, near present-day Stansbury Park, and the railhead in Corinne. On her first trip to the lake's southern shore, the boat returned north with 45 tons of ore.

Fluctuating lake levels eventually made it difficult for the City of Corinne to continue anchoring in its home port of Corrine and it began a new life as an excursion boat docking at Lake Point. When presidential candidate James A. Garfield rode the boat while on a visit to Utah, its new owner renamed it the General Garfield in his honor. In 1904, the vessel burned to the water line and was buried under I-80.

(Later research has found that the boat was used as an artillery target in 1897.)

The following comes from History Blazer, March 1995, published by the Utah State Historical Society:

On May 23, 1871, nearly 3,000 people stood by the banks of the Bear River in Corinne to witness the launching of Utah's first steamboat—an event that excited the imagination of the public. About a year earlier, Corinne businessmen had conceived the idea of creating a steamship line to rival the newly constructed Utah Central Railroad. By offering cheaper freighting rates than the local railroad, investors were convinced that the steamboat would capture the mineral transport business created by the growing mining camps south of the Great Salt Lake.

The Corinne Steam and Navigation Company purchased some $40,000 worth of machinery to begin the project in January 1871. When the parts arrived from St. Louis, Corinne was bombarded with the clanking sounds of construction as workers labored for nearly four months to assemble the steamboat.

The completed ship, majestically docked at the Corinne port, weighed two tons and was 150 feet long. Prepared for leisure cruises, the three-decker vessel had eight staterooms, a dance hall, and private dining cabins that could accommodate 60 to 70 people. A large paddle wheel was fixed to the stern of the ship. On the side was emblazoned the steamboat's name, the City of Corinne.

The May celebration of the launching of the ship was a lively affair. Horse races, baseball, and a grand ball in the Opera House kept the guests from Salt Lake and beyond busy throughout the day. At 2 P.M. an excited crowd stood at Corinne's port to witness the launching of the City of Corinne. Many walked away disappointed, however, when the vessel was caught, apparently on the launching timbers, in shallow water only 20 feet downriver. Four hours later the City of Corinne was finally freed and on its way to the Great Salt Lake.

During the months of June and July the steamboat kept a tri-weekly schedule, transporting passengers and cargo to and from Lake Point on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake and the transcontinental railroad at Corinne. Though Lake Point was a remote port far removed from Salt Lake City, investors worked hard to make it an appealing destination for their customers. Fox Diefendorf, owner of the City of Corinne, invested in a newly invented "steam wagon" to transport ores from the Stockton and Ophir mines to the landing at Lake Point. Meanwhile, Jeter Clinton was busy transforming the port into a resort beach. In early 1871 he had constructed a temporary building, Lake House, that provided showers and refreshments for tourists. In the fall Clinton replaced the structure with a hotel.

Despite these efforts business had dropped by late July. Since no railroad connected Salt Lake City with Lake Point, few passengers were willing to take the trip. Numerous attempts were made to promote passenger sales but to no avail. Diefendorf sought to lure passengers with newspaper advertisements that read: "(Spend) a whole day on the south shore, to visit the caves and grottoes near Lake Point, enjoy surf bathing, and hunting...." When passenger rates continued to drop in August, Diefendorf had no choice but to end scheduled sightseeing trips around the lake. Instead, the City of Corinne was launched for private parties and school field trips. Finally, in April 1872, Diefendorf sold the City of Corinne to H. S. Jacobs of Salt Lake City. (H. S. Jacobs was the principle promoter of the planned Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad)

Three years later John W. Young (a son of Brigham Young) bought the ship to attract tourists to his Great Salt Lake resort at Lake Side near Farmington. In September 1875 General James A. Garfield, soon to be elected as the U.S. president, took a complimentary tour of the lake in the City of Corinne. At the suggestion of a woman passenger, Corinne's steamboat was renamed General Garfield. To the humiliation of the people of Corinne, who had so proudly celebrated its launching, the steamboat was permanently anchored at the Garfield Beach Resort until it was destroyed by fire in 1904.

The following comes from Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 2, by Daughters of Utah Pioneers:

City of Corinne -- Among the hopes of the ambitious founders of Corinne was the dream of beginning navigation on the Great Salt Lake, via the Bear River. At least four sizable boats were constructed for the purpose of carrying on commerce with the south end of the lake. Situated where the newly built transcontinental railroad crosses the river, the town was the trading center of the vast territory stretching northward into Idaho and Montana. Huge freighting wagons, loaded with supplies, wended their way northward and returned laden with rich ores, some of which were refined at the smelter, which had just been built on the west bank of the river at Corinne by General P. A. Connor. Discovery of gold at the south end of the lake made the water route to Salt Lake City and vicinity seem the most practical means of transportation at that time from Corinne, as boats could serve to haul the ore while also carrying passengers.

As the plan took shape the enthusiastic citizens, fired perhaps by the zeal of some early day soap-box orator, donated $4000.00 to build a steamboat of the Mississippi type, which was to help build a brilliant future for their own. It was the year 1869. The Golden Spike had just been driven at Promontory Point and transportation history was being made. General Connor, who some six years before had quelled the last Indian uprising at the battle of Bear River, and to whom Utah owes much for his interest and development of the mining industry, was interested in building a smelter on the west bank of the river a short distance south of the railroad bridge. Other men of Corinne who were prominent in business enterprises in California before they came here with the railroad, were also interested in the project of building a boat. No one seems to know just who was responsible for starting the plans, but once started they gained momentum rapidly.

A boat landing had been constructed close by where the railroad skirted a bend of the river. The boat was about 150 feet long and three decks high and, at its stern, a huge paddle wheel. It was christened the City of Corinne by General J. A. Williamson, who had been the mayor of the town. His daughter was named Corinne. There are rumors that the first launching was unsuccessful, but shortly the boat churned its way down the river. It was hoped that it could make its way up the Jordan River to Salt Lake City, but it is doubtful if it ever made the complete trip. It did, however, touch at Black Rock, where ore from the Oquirrh mountains was loaded and carried back to the smelter at Corinne.

The following comes from Bernice Gibbs Anderson's "The Gentile City of Corinne", in Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 9, 1941, Numbers 3 and 4, July and October 1941, pages 147, 148:

One man stands out from the maze of mystery and rumor surrounding the building of the "City of Corinne," Captain C. A. Dahl, of whom even his family knows little concerning his early [p.148] life. It was he who went to San Francisco to meet and accompany back on the new Railroad, the engines for the boat, and he took charge of the boat after the launching. (Footnote 20: Harriet Riordan, daughter of Capt. Dahl, Chicago. Interview, 1940.) The engines had been built in Chicago by marine engine makers serving the Great Lakes trade, and were shipped by water around Cape Horn to the Pacific coast. From California, also, came the redwood lumber for hull and beams, considered the finest wood for boat building. (Footnote 21: Salt Lake Tribune, 1938. Article Bernice G. Anderson.)

There are reports that the first attempt was unsuccessful but shortly the "City of Corinne" churned its way down the river and out into the Great Salt Lake, which was at a much higher stage than at present. Three decks were constructed on the boat, which was about 70 feet long. At its stern a huge paddle wheel propelled it through the water. The builders hoped the boat could make its way up the Jordan River to Salt Lake City, but it is doubtful if it ever made the trip. It did, however, touch at Black Rock, where ore was loaded and carried back to the smelter at Corinne. For a while it made tri-weekly trips. Then the waters of the river lowered, sand bars appeared, and the boat could no longer navigate the river with its heavy loads of ore. Stranded out in the lake, away from its home port, it was moved to Black Rock and transformed into a pleasure boat to take visitors on cruises over the lake.

The "City of Corinne" was a 300 ton Mississippi River-type stern wheeler with two stacks and three decks. Engines for the new boat were made in Chicago and shipped around Cape Horn to San Francisco, reaching Corinne by rail. From California came the redwood for hull and beams. The 70 foot craft was launched on May 24, 1871, and practically the whole valley population turned out to witness the event. General J. A. Williamson, Mayor of Corinne, officiated at the christening. "The first trip was made to Lake Point in 1872, with machinery for the smelter at Stockton (Utah) and the boat returned with ore from the Tintic district and Nevada". (W. P. A. Writers' Project, Utah, A Guide to the State, page 363)

"The "City of Corinne" made several trips between Corinne and Lake Point, hauling cattle, ore, and passengers. The route, shown on maps of the time, was from Corinne down Bear River, through Bear River Bay, east of Fremont Island, then between Fremont and Antelope islands to Lake Point or Black Rock on the south shore. However, obstacles soon hindered the progress of this new freighting venture: Bear River waters decreased in volume and sand bars blocked its entrance. The "City of Corinne" was unable to make port with her heavy load of ore, and the project had to be abandoned. Captain C. A. Dahl converted the "City of Corinne" into an excursion boat. As such it cruised the waters of Great Salt Lake for many years, stopping at the resorts where landing facilities were available: Black Rock, Lake Point, Lake Park, and Garfield Beach."

James A. Garfield, who was, it is said, first nominated to the Presidential office by a party of gentlemen and ladies with whom he was making a cruise on the lake. In honor of Garfield's visit the name of the boat was changed to "General Garfield". A few years later the craft was moored to the pier at Garfield Landing Resort to become a restaurant and recreational center. In 1904 fire swept the resort and the "General Garfield" was burned to the water line.

One of Corinne's "entrepreneurs, Fox Diefendorf, sank $45,000 into the most imposing boat that has ever sailed the Great Salt Lake." Christened City of Corinne, the steamboat was launched in the Bear on May 22, 1871. She made her trial trip on June 4 with 50 guests aboard, and a week later made the first experimental trip to the south shore, returning in 3 days with 1,150 sacks of ore--a 45-ton cargo. Before the month was out, she was sailing from her home port on a thrice-weekly schedule. The route ran down the Bear to its mouth, south down Bear River Bay to the channel between Fremont and Antelope and then west and south to Lake Point, on the south shore eight miles from Stockton. (Dale L. Morgan, The Great Salt Lake, pages 299-302)

The captain of the City of Corinne was Christian Adam Dahl, born in Denmark on December 18, 1834. When he came to Utah is not known. The engines for the City of Corinne were built in Chicago by marine engine manufacturers serving the Great Lakes trade, and they were shipped around the Horn to California for shipment to Corinne. Captain Dahl traveled to San Francisco to meet the engines, and accompanied them back to Utah Territory by way of the Central Pacific to Corinne. From California came also the redwood lumber for the hull and beams, considered the finest wood for boat building.

It was reported that the boilers, engines, and other machinery had been purchased in St. Louis and shipped to Corinne, where the boat was built in 1870, and launched in 1871, under the name City of Corinne. After being used to ship ore, bullion, and lumber between Ophir and Corinne, the boat was sold to H. S. Jacobs and his Lilly, Leisenring Mining Company, to be used to transport ore and bullion between the lake's southern shore and either Corinne or Monument Point on the north shore. The boat was used only briefly, then sold to John W. Young to be used along with his Utah Western Railway in excursion service. The name was changed to General Garfield upon the visit of James A. Garfield, and his taking a trip on the lake aboard the boat. (Salt Lake Herald, April 6, 1882)

The City of Corinne was a three-decker 150 feet long and of 250 tons burden, propelled by a large paddle wheel at her stern. Her first pilot was Captain S. Howe, but within the year he gave way to Captain Thomas Douris. Though the City of Corinne was not long destined to call the gentile city her home port, three times a week during the summer of 1871 Corinne swelled with pride as the steamboat nosed up the river to blow for a landing. (Dale L. Morgan, The Great Salt Lake, pages 299-302)

May 31, 1871
The City of Corinne was launched onto the Bear River at Corinne. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 22, 1871, "Tuesday next")

(There was an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune about the planned launch of the boat, and the good it would do for Corinne; no details of the boat except to describe it as a stern wheel; see Salt Lake Tribune, May 22, 1871)

June 15, 1871
Mr. Diefendorf, owner of the City of Corinne lake boat, was building a wharf and piers at Lake Point, which were to be "completed in a few days." (Corinne Daily Journal, June 15, 1871)

July 26, 1871
The "City of Corinne" was being used principally for transport lumber for D. W. Parkhurst, at a cost of $200 per trip. It had recently been used for an excursion. "The once famous Kate Connor lies sinking in the mud of Bear River" at Corinne due to the failure of the East Canyon mines.

The following comes from The Great Salt Lake, by Dale L. Morgan, pages 299-302:

In 1871 the City of Corinne was reported a financial failure, and in April 1872 was sold to the Lehigh and Utah Mining Company. Corinne's history as a lake port came to its end in the spring of 1872 when the lake level fell and the Bear River silted up. By the time the lake returned to a level to allow navigation up the Bear to Corinne, in 1875, railroad service was well established north, south and east of the lake.

Her new owners promptly converted the City of Corinne into an excursion boat, based, not at Corinne, but at Lake Side, on the east shore of the lake near Farmington. In June 1875, the City of Corinne was renamed General Garfield in honor of a visit by James A. Garfield. The Garfield name was later taken by the beach resort where the boat docked on the south shore of the lake, then to a smelting and refining center located near by.

April 16, 1872
The 'City of Corinne' sold a few days ago to H. S. Jacobs & Company of Salt Lake City, and the Lehigh & Utah Mining Co., of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, and possession was given yesterday. The mining company is building a reduction works at Stockton. (Salt Lake Herald, April 16, 1872; Deseret Evening News, May 20, 1872)

May 22, 1872
The City of Corinne was described as "a stern-wheel steamer, 130 feet long by 28 feet beam, drawing about three feet of water. She has an engine deck, a cabin deck, and a hurricane deck, so that she be fairly called a three-decker. She has three cabins, carpeted and elegantly furnished, one of them fitted up as a bar, with clerk's office, etc. She has a cooks galley and other arrangements for the culinary department, with appropriate conveniences for gentlemen and lady passengers. She is fitted with Mississippi River, double smokestack, high pressure engines of 100 horsepower. The steamer is owned by H. S. Jacobs & Company." At Lake Side, "A temporary pier ran out fifty feet or so into the water, whence the excursionists were conveyed, in her two row boats, into the steamer." (Deseret News, May 22, 1872, "Steamer Excursion On The Lake, May 11th")

April 15, 1873
"Lake Navigation - From Captain Douris of the steamer City of Corinne, we learn that that vessel will resume her regular trips for the season this week, or certainly by the 21st instant. Large shipments of ore and bullion await transportation hither from the southern landings, and the boat will find work enough for tri-weekly trips during the ensuing six or eight months in that branch of the trade alone. The carrying of merchandise and passengers, south from this point, will constitute a large portion of the lake and river business." (Corinne Reporter, April 15, 1873)

June 30, 1873
"Marine News - The steamer City of Corinne arrived here from Lake Point at 9 a. m. yesterday, with a full list of passengers and a large manifest of freight, the latter consisting mainly of ore and bullion. The noble vessel cleared this morning for Lake Side whence an excursion will board her ample decks on Friday July the Fourth. Hereafter she will make regular tri-weekly trips, or oftener, as the requirements of lake and river commerce may demand. Captain Douris is still in command - the right man in the right place. Success to the City of Corinne." (Corinne Reporter, June 30, 1873)

April 24, 1875
The City of Corinne steamer arrived at Corinne for the first time in many months. Prior to this, the boat was moored at Lake Point and was being used by John W. Young for excursions around the harbor. The steamer was owned by the Utah Western railroad, and was being used this trip to ship ties from Corinne to Lake Point, to be used by the Utah Western railroad. The ties were being delivered to Corinne by the Utah Northern railroad. The return trip on April 26th included a stop at Promontory Point to load 1000 cords of fire wood, needed at Lake Point. (Corinne Daily Mail, April 22, 1875; April 24, 1875; April 26, 1875)

(Read more about the "City of Corinne" -- from A History of Box Elder County) (below)

General Garfield

June 4, 1875
James A. Garfield visited Salt Lake City and was given a tour of the city by John W. Young, who also took Garfield on an excursion of Great Salt Lake. The party traveled by Young's newly completed Utah Western Railway from Salt Lake City, west to Clinton's resort at Lake Point on the south shore of Great Salt Lake, where they boarded the City of Corinne boat for an excursion on the lake. Upon returning to the pier at Clintons, one of the ladies in the party suggested renaming the boat as the General Garfield in honor of the occasion. On board was a party of 200 men and women, and all agreed that the name change should take place. "Hereafter the City of Corinne will be a thing of the past, and the proud little steamer will be known as the General Garfield." James Garfield arrived from California at Ogden on Friday June 4, and the lake excursion took place that afternoon. He remained in Salt Lake City until the morning of Monday June 7, when he proceeded to Leavenworth, Kansas, and then to his home in Ohio. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 5, 1875)

June 7, 1875
"New Name. General Garfield arrived in Salt Lake City on Friday last, and the same day was taken to lake Point and on board the City of Corinne; and the crew who manipulate the steamer thought so much of the visit, or something else, that they hauled down the time honored name City of Corinne and re-christened the steamer General Garfield." (Corinnne Daily Reporter, June 7, 1875)

July 2, 1875
"The steamer General Garfield will connect with every train from Salt Lake and make a voyage on the Lake, returning in time to meet every train for Salt Lake." The service continued throughout the 1875 and 1876 seasons. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 2, 1875, and subsequent issues)

July 14, 1875
"The boat is of 125 feet keel and 26 feet beam, and its length over all is 150 feet. It is 7-1/2 feet clear in the hull. It has two boilers 24 feet long and 40 inches in diameter, and five flute boilers. It has two engines, 16 inch bore, and 4 ft. 10 in. stroke. It has eight staterooms, a gent's and ladies cabin, a fine dining room, and convenient washhouse. It is being used for excursion parties, Capt. Douris in command, who is an able and courteous officer. Next fall it will be used to freight lumber, cedar posts, and ties from the north. The boat is the property of the Utah Western Railroad Co., of which John W. Young is president." (Daily Ogden Junction, July 14, 1875)

July 20, 1877
"The steamer General Garfield has been fitted up as a saloon and restaurant, by Mr. W. R. McComas and Captain Douris. It will be opened today, and unquestionably will be a popular place for refreshments." (Salt Lake Tribune, July 20, 1877)

The General Garfield steam boat was the subject of a suit filed in district court in late 1877. The boat had been owned by John Leisenring, the first president of the Salt Lake, Sevier Valley and Pioche Railroad, who had sold it to the Utah Western Railway in June 1875. But the Utah Western was unable to make its required payments for either the railroad property, or the steam boat, which had been purchased to carry excursionists on the lake. The bonds on the railroad and boat came due in January 1878, and payment could not be met. With this crisis before them, the directors of the Utah Western agreed to allow the trustees for the bond holders, Royal M. Bassett and E. F. Bishop, to take possession of the railroad, which they did on April 16, 1878. The railroad and steamer were operated by a receiver until sold at foreclosure in November 1880 to a new railroad company, the Utah and Nevada Railroad. The new company set about extending its line to the mining districts to the south, but continued operating the excursion trains and boat excursions on the lake. Union Pacific took a financial interest in the company in April 1881, and in August 1881 took control of the company by ownership of its stock. (Clarence Reeder, The History Of Utah's Railroads, 1869 - 1883, page 289)

July 20, 1880
"Captain Douris is erecting a wharf a short distance beyond Black Rock; he will also erect bathing houses in time, and run the Garfield in connection with them." (Salt Lake Herald, July 20, 1880)

(The above news item suggests that Captain Douris was able to take ownership of the General Garfield, buying it from the receiver who was clearing the debts of the bankrupt Utah Western railroad.)

March 25, 1882
The machinery from the boat General Garfield had been removed and was being prepared for shipment to a navigation company in California. The boilers were to be sold in Utah to the highest bidder. The shell of the boat was to be used as a hotel. (Deseret News, March 29, 1882, citing the daily edition for Saturday March 25th.)

April 6, 1882
During late March or early April 1882, the boilers and machinery of the "General Garfield" lake boat were seen at the shops of Haynes & Sons in Salt Lake City. They were in workable condition and were being prepared for sale at the request of Cunningham & Company. It was reported that the boilers, engines, and other machinery had been purchased in St. Louis and shipped to Corinne, where the boat was built in 1870, and launched in 1871. (Salt Lake Herald, April 6, 1882)

December 30, 1882
The boat General Garfield had been used as a hotel at the Garfield resort for the past two years. Its machinery had been recently removed, leaving the lake without any steam boats. (Ogden Standard, December 30, 1882)

June 30, 1897
"The old steamer Garfield, now lying at Garfield beach, will be destroyed by the artillery of the National Guard of Utah during the jubilee. The bombardment will be an exciting event and thousands will witness it." (Salt Lake Herald, June 30, 1897) (The "jubilee" was the 50th anniversary celebration of the arrival of the Pioneers in Utah in 1847. A large benefit and celebration was held at the Saltair resort.)

The event was to take place on Friday July 23rd, but when the attempt was made to move the hulk out and away from the pier, to a point half mile away from the shore, the remains of the boat were found to be too embedded and the event was a failure. Instead, the artillery battery took aim and destroyed a small skiff that had been fitted up with a false-works superstructure simulating the old lake steamer. Two cannon were used and twenty-six shots were fired, both solid ball and explosive shells. The skiff was loaded with a large amount of powder that was to explode when struck by an artillery round, but no explosion took place. Inspection by a Lieutenant of the guard unit, who was taken out to the skiff in a row boat, revealed that eleven shots had struck the skiff, but without effect. The skiff was finally "holed" by a solid ball thrown into the hull by that same Lieutenant. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 24, 1897)

April 12, 1932
In the April 12, 1932 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune, as part of a description of a tour along the new U. S. 40 west of Salt Lake City westward to Great Salt Lake, the following paragraph mentions the remains of the abandoned General Garfield lake boat.

Get in your car now, and drive back and over the viaduct. Continue west past Black Rock, then drive slowly looking along the Western Pacific tracks. About 500 feet west of Black Rock, with the railroad tracks built right through it and over it, you can see the hull of the old steamer, the City of Garfield, that plied up and down the lake over 50 years ago. This large steamboat used to haul ore from about this point up across the lake and up Bear river to the city of Corinne, the nearest railroad point then to the lake. With the coming of the railroads in this valley, that boat outlived its usefulness and was abandoned.

October 9, 1938
The failure of the 1897 planned grand event explains why the remains of the boat were identified in October 1938 by Bernice Gibbs Anderson. Captain Douris' original Garfield Landing pier and adjacent resort and lake steamer were apparently abandoned when Union Pacific built its Garfield Beach resort in 1887. Sometime after the planned event in 1897, the pier and resort were reported burned. At that time, the abandoned hulk of the steamer was reported as having burned to the water line. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 9, 1938)

Additional Reading

Peter G. Van Alfen, "Sail and Steam: Great Salt Lake's Boats and Boatbuilders, 1847-1901," in Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, Number 3 (Summer 1994): 194-221

Bernice Gibbs Anderson, "The Gentile City of Corinne", in Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 9, 1941, Numbers 3 and 4, July and October 1941

Ouida Blanthorn, comp., A History of Tooele County (Utah State Historical Society, 1998), 156-158

Frederick M. Huchel, A History of Box Elder County (Box Elder County Commission and Utah State Historical Society, 1999), 135-139

Brigham D. Madsen, Corinne: The Gentile Capital of Utah (Utah State Historical Society, 1980), 157-169

Nancy D. McCormick and John S. McCormick, Saltair (University of Utah Press, Bonneville Books Series, 1985; ISBN 0-87480-133-8)

David E. Miller, "The Great Salt Lake," Utah Historical Quarterly 27 (July 1959): 297-311

Dale L. Morgan, The Great Salt Lake (University of New Mexico Press, 1947), pages 299-302

David Peterson, Tale of the Lucin, A Boat, a Railroad, and the Great Salt Lake (Old Waterfront Publishing, 2001; ISBN 0-9706383-0-2), pages 16 through 42


City of Corinne Lake Boat

From Frederick M. Huchel's A History of Box Elder County, 1999, pages 135-139:

The ambitious men who founded Corinne did not wish to settle only for trade on the railroad, especially when valuable minerals were found in the Oquirrh Mountains on the southern tip of Great Salt Lake. A new phase of shipping was opened in Utah with the beginning of trade by steamboat on the Great Salt Lake. The first of the lake's fleet of steamboats were built by Patrick Connor to haul telegraph poles and ties for the Central Pacific in 1868 and 1869. They were the Kate Connor, the Pioneer, and the Pluribathah or Pluribustah. Connor realized that a great deal of time and money could be saved if steamboats could connect the mines with the railhead, and Corinne, with its smelter built by Connor and location on the transcontinental main line, was the logical connection.

The choice of Corinne was bolstered by a report that the Bear River was eighteen feet deep and three hundred feet wide at Corinne.38 During the years 1868–72, the Great Salt Lake was rising, and the mouth of the Bear River was deep enough for navigation by boat from the lake, even though in 1843 John C. Fremont found it blocked by sand bars. The one obstacle to navigation of the Bear River was its meandering course through the marshes near its mouth. The distance from Corinne to the lake is about six miles as the crow flies, but by the river, according to C. A. Dahl, first captain of the grand steamship City of Corinne, "the distance seemed more like thirty-five miles which took several hours to navigate from Corinne to the Bear River Bay of the Great Salt Lake."39

A discussion of the possibilities of Corinne as an ore transfer port to the railroad appeared in the Utah Tri-Weekly Reporter in May 1870: the use of Corinne as a river port was strongly supported by the editor and further momentum was given to the proposal by the support of the miners on the lake's southern shore.40

One of the first commercial voyages to Corinne by a lake vessel was made on 4 November 1869 by Connor & McNassar's ninety-ton schooner bringing laths from the mills at Black Rock on the southeastern end of the Great Salt Lake.. About a week later a load of silver ore came to Corinne from Stockton in Tooele County via Black Rock aboard the Pluribustah.41 The Pluribustah or Buster, a schooner [p.136] with a load capacity of 100 tons, was built in the spring of 1869, by General Connor. A ship named the Viola was built on the south shore for use in the lake trade.

In June 1870 the Kate Connor was refitted as a side-wheeler. The Pluribustah was also converted to haul ore in June 1870.

This great boom in the lake trade aroused the citizens of Corinne, who wanted to have a ship of their own plying the waters of the great inland sea. Public interest was mobilized in 1870, with the help of three men, promoter Wells Spicer, Judge Dennis Toohy, and coal-mine operator Fox Diefendorf. The City of Corinne as the ship was to be called, was to be one hundred thirty feet long and was to have three decks, and a seven-foot-deep hold capable of carrying three hundred tons. Propulsion was to be by means of rear-mounted paddle-wheel. Launching was tentatively set for the end of March 1871. Of the $40,000 needed for the project, $4,000 was raised by appeals to the public from soap-box pulpits by the light of coal-oil lanterns and bonfires. The remainder was provided by private investors, Fox Diefendorf being chief among them.

A siding was built from the railroad's main line to a dock near the crossing of rails and river at the east end of the city, and the grand steamship began to take shape. Captain C. A. Dahl, one-time proprietor of the Valley House in Salt Lake City, became the skipper of the City of Corinne. He was sent to San Francisco to meet the new ship's engines which had been ordered from marine engine makers who served the Great Lakes trade, Girard B. Allen and Company of St. Louis and Chicago. The engines reached San Francisco via the long route around Cape Horn. California redwood was used for the hull and beams of the ship.

Though work was progressing, the projected launch date came and passed before the engines arrived on 8 April. The machinery was proudly exhibited in Corinne. On 20 April the boilers were installed, followed by the wheel shaft, the decks, and the cabin stanchions. A site on Clinton's Island on the lake's south side was chosen for the wharf, and work commenced to construct the necessary docks.

Launching of the City of Corinne was set for 23 May, and all Utah took notice. The Kate Connor left the Jordan Landing on 20 May at noon, to be present for the launch of her rival. Arrangements were [p.137] made with the railroads for a special train to carry visitors from Salt Lake City. People came from Ogden and Kelton, as well as from other points on the railroad line and from surrounding communities. Hundreds attended the ceremony when they commenced at 11:00 A.M.

The vessel was christened with a bottle of wine by Miss Jennie Black, daughter of a justice of the peace. The fastenings were hewn away, and the new ship began to glide down the ways accompanied by the cheers of the crowd. After moving about twenty feet, the vessel stopped. The ways near the water's edge had sunk into the mud. The crowds dispersed throughout the city while builders and crew went to work to free the ship. After about seven hours, the wild chiming of the bell in the Presbyterian church's tower announced to all that the "Queen of the Western Waters," the great stern wheel steamship City of Corinne was afloat. The celebrants, many of whom had spent much of the day in the saloons, flocked back to the river for a look at the great ship. The ship duly launched, the throng returned to town for a "remarkable" ball in the Opera House, which lasted most of the night.

[p.138] The ship made a trial run on 9 June 1871, with an entourage of fifty guests, while soundings were taken in the riverbed in preparation for the maiden voyage of the proud vessel. The City of Corinne left for Lake Point on 12 June 1871, its first commercial voyage, with a load of lumber, a few orders of goods for the mines, and wire for the Western Union Telegraph Company's line to the Oquirrh mining town of Ophir. The vessel returned on 14 June with forty-five tons of ore in 1,150 sacks for the Alger smelter in Corinne. The Alger works were not, however, prepared to begin refining ore.

The day after the City of Corinne returned to its berth on the Bear River, a schedule of regular trips was announced, to begin 19 June. There were to be three trips a week, leaving Corinne for Lake Point on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Return trips were to be on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The ship's arrival in Corinne was timed to meet the Central Pacific's westbound passenger train. The schedule was followed until late July, when it was adjusted to once a week. In the middle of August, regular trips were canceled, and the ship waited for business.

During the summer of 1871, the City of Corinne and the Kate Connor competed for the scarce business. That summer marked the peak of lake freighting and passenger travel. Even though it was reported in September that the great stern wheeler's chief stockholder, Fox Diefendorf, was disenchanted and planned to sell the ship, both boats wintered in Corinne, where they were cleaned and overhauled for the season ahead.

In February 1872 the City of Corinne was sold to H. S. Jacobs and Company of Salt Lake City which had ties to the Lehigh and Utah Mining Company of Mauchunk, Pennsylvania. The company planned to use the vessel for trade connecting Corinne, Lake Point, the Lakeside Mining District, and the islands. However, it came to be used for private shipping between Jacobs's smelter at the south end of the Great Salt Lake and Corinne, as well as carrying excursion parties.

The fluctuating inland sea was, during this period, in the rising portion of her cycle. Eventually high, sluggish backwaters caused by the high lake level left sand bars at the mouth of the Bear River, and in about 1873 the City of Corinne was marooned out in the lake, far [p.139] from the city for whose glory she had been built.42 The ship's base of operations moved to Promontory Point, Monument Point, and then to a point on the lake below Kaysville, the nearest point on the lake to Salt Lake City. From there, the ship carried excursions for another ten years, and the port became known as Lake Side. When the railroad was finished around the south end of Great Salt Lake, the steamship's dock was moved to Lake Point.

In 1880, when James Abram Garfield, candidate for president of the United States, visited Utah, he took a ride on the great ship. In the emotion of the moment, the vessel was re-named the Garfield--the name City of Corinne having no meaning any more. Later the name was also given to a bathing beach and smelter nearby. The Garfield was moored to the bathing pier and became the restaurant and hotel for the resort. The final blow to her tarnished dignity came when her proud banners and tall smoke stacks were removed. She was only a floating building. When fire destroyed the resort in the late 1880s, the ship burned to the water line. Its charred and rotting skeleton was visible there for many years.43

The Kate Connor was sold to Christopher Layton of Kaysville, along with "some flat-bottomed scows" probably towed behind the boat to haul ore. Legend has it that she eventually sank, and was left to rot where she went down. Somewhere on one of the old river channels in the Bear River marshes lies the rotting hulk of the Pluribustah.

When the lake trade folded, the promoters of Corinne turned their attention back to the city's first love, the railroad. They conceived the idea of building a railroad from Corinne to the shipping points of the north and organized the Portland, Dalles, and Salt Lake Railway. The route was surveyed as far as Malad, Idaho, a distance of fifty miles, and ten miles were graded, but many difficulties, most of them apparently financial, brought the project to early abandonment.44