Great Lakes Transportation Timetables and Brochures Collection

Identifier: GLMS-0054

Collection Overview


Literature from Great Lakes transportation companies promotes the use of the lake vessels at their disposal by the casual tourist traveler. Items reflect the mass marketing of the idea that travel in the Great Lakes region is feasible on regularly scheduled routes from ports readily accesible to much of the United States and Canada by rail or highway. The Lake Michigan routes from Ludington and Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois are well documented. Ferry service at the Straits of Mackinac is also represented. Travel in Canadian waters is promoted with timetables for voyages into Georgian Bay and the St. Lawrence River valley.


  • 1859-2019
  • Majority of material found within 1884-1990


1.5 Cubic Feet (3 legal manuscript boxes)

1 Folders (1 oversize folder)


Scope and Contents

The timetables and brochures from Great Lakes transportation companies contained in this collection document the growth of the leisure travel industry in the United States and Canada. Material from these companies concentrates on passenger and automobile cargo rather than ore, lumber, or stone shipments. Items date from 1859 to 2019 and provide readers with decades worth of information on the growth of tourism in the Great Lakes region.

Illustrated with photographs and color drawings, transportation company literature reflects the mass marketing idea that vacationing in the Great Lakes is healthy, relaxing, adventurous and convenient. The types of vessels used in lake service are depicted in visually appealing forms to promote tourist traffic. Hotels and other resort accommodations receive complete descriptions.

Represented in significant quantities are companies engaged in Lake Michigan crossings from Ludington and Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. Tourism at Mackinac Island, Michigan and in the St. Lawrence River valley is also extensively covered.

Historical Note

Passenger vessel service in the Great Lakes region is known to have begun as early as the 1770s in the form of a ferry across the Niagara River at Black Rock, New York. In becoming a portion of the empires of corporate giants such as the New York Central Railroad, passenger transportation on the lakes evolved along with other businesses in the technological revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In 1844 the Privat brothers of Toronto began ferry service with a two horsepower engine. Literally, the PENINSULA PACKET was powered with a treadmill operated with two horses that walked in tandem to propel the boat. In a less than a century passengers cruised the Great Lakes aboard vessels rivalling ocean liners for luxury and technological sophistication.

Ferry service at Black Rock and Toronto began as a practical means for solving a transportation need. By the 1880s, citizens of the United States and Canada were traveling for pleasure. The writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and others had created a desire to see the upper Great Lakes region. Tourism developed and new shipping companies entered the market. Increases in ore and grain traffic by 1875 were accompanied by vacationers destined for the remote areas of Georgian Bay and Lake Superior.

Advertising in the form of brochures and standard timetables for voyages began to appear in large quantities in the competition four tourist revenue. This collection of transportation company literature provides readers with documentation of the rapid development of the excursion trade in the Great Lakes region after 1870.

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers using this collection assume full responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright, and are responsible for securing permissions necessary for publication or reproduction.

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Processing Information

Processing for this collection was completed in January 1994 by Mark J. Barnes.

Guide to the Transportation Company Timetables and Brochures Collection
Mark Sprang
December 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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