Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it


The Owana was launched at Detroit Dry Dock Co. in Wyandotte, Mich., in 1899 as the Pennsylvania.

Like many Great Lakes steamers, she was designed by master naval architect Frank E. Kirby. Like many Great Lakes steamers, her interior design was handled by Kirby's collaborator Louis O. Keil.

The White Star Line acquired her in 1902 and renamed her the Owana. She ran between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, as well as Port Huron and the St. Clair Flats.

White Star sold her in 1925, and two years later, she was scooped up by the Erie & Dover Ferry Line and renamed the Erie, making runs across Lake Erie.

She was destroyed by the same Feb. 20, 1929, fire that also damaged the steamer previously known as the Frank E. Kirby.

But it wouldn't be the end. Her hull was rebuilt as the barge T.A. Ivey in 1934, shuttling coal between Port Dover, Ontario, and Erie, Pa., until 1963.

That's when she was sold yet again and renamed the Erie, yet again. She was scrapped in 1981.