City of Toledo Portrait

The portrait above appears to show a man on the deck of the City of Toledo, a passenger ship, built in Toledo, Ohio in 1891. The man in the above portrait is not actually aboard the City of Toledo, he is standing in front of an artistic backdrop, meant to make it appear that he was sailing aboard this passenger ship. This portrait would have been taken as a souvenir of the subject’s trip aboard the City of Toledo, though the date and location are unknown.


The City of Toledo was built by Blythe Craig Shipbuilding in 1891 and was the first passenger ship built by John Craig after moving the company to Toledo in 1890. The City of Toledo was built for speed, with an engine that could reach speeds of 24 miles per hour. Speed was important for passenger ships on the Great Lakes and the owners of the newly launched City of Toledo issued a general challenge to other vessels to race them to see who was faster. The owners of the Frank E. Kirby issued a challenge to the City of Toledo and even put up $300 as a wager. Click here to learn more about the Frank E. Kirby. It seems unlikely the race ever took place as the City of Toledo sustained damage to it’s sea chest six months after launching and needed repairs. The City of Toledo did take part in other races, leading the captain in 1906 to announce in the newspaper that he would race no more that season.

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