Michigan and the Great Lakes

Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes

A History of Passenger Steamships on the Inland Seas
Joel Stone
A lively history of the most majestic ships to ever ply the Great Lakes


Through much of the nineteenth century, steam-powered ships provided one of the most reliable and comfortable transportation options in the United States, becoming a critical partner in railroad expansion and the heart of a thriving recreation industry. The aesthetic, structural, and commercial peak of the steamboat era occurred on the Great Lakes, where palatial ships created memories and livelihoods for millions while carrying passengers between the region’s major industrial ports of Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toronto. By the mid-twentieth century, the industry was in steep decline, and today North America’s rich and entertaining steamboat heritage has been largely forgotten. In Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes, Joel Stone revisits this important era of maritime history, packed with elegance and adventure, politics and wealth, triumph and tragedy. This story of Great Lakes travelers and the beautiful floating palaces they engendered will engage historians and history buffs alike, as well as genealogists, regionalists, and researchers.

"This book is an important contribution to Great Lakes maritime history, covering an era usually ignored or addressed only piecemeal."
—Frederick Stonehouse, author of Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Joel Stone is Senior Curator for the Detroit Historical Society and coeditor of Border Crossings: The Detroit River Region in the War of 1812.

Praise / Awards

  • "A deftly crafted and unique history, Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes is as impressively well written as it is extraordinarily informative."
    --Paul T. Vogel, Midwest Book Review

  • "Well-written and well-illustrated, the book describes various ships without bogging down in excessive technical descriptions.  Stone is adept at describing the economic conditions that affected lake-borne transit but does not distract from the purpose of the book…Recommended."
    --Choice Books
  • "...a thorough appreciation for a maritime institution that has only recently taken its final bow from the Great Lakes stage."
    --The Northern Mariner
  • "This book is a gem worthy of the attention of everyone interested in passenger service on the world's largest freshwater lake system."
    -The Michigan Historial Review
  • "[Stone is] an enthusiastic and skillful storyteller...Weaving primary materials and black and white illustrations throughout, his narrative creates immediacy and a shared sense of the excitement that characterized the industry."
    --Inland Seas

News, Reviews, Interviews

Watch: Virtual Author Event Recording | Link | 02/23/2021

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 296pp.
  • 40 B&W Illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05175-5

Add to Cart
  • $26.95 U.S.

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