Kinney Steamship Company
Adelbert Thomas Kinney, founder of the Kinney Steamship Company, always had a sense for business. In 1871 he joined his father’s cigar manufacturing company based in Cleveland, Ohio working side-by-side to run the company. At the turn of the century, Adelbert switched his interest to Great Lakes shipping. Going from interest to involvement, Kinney established his first steamship company, the Tecumseh Steamship Company in 1908. That following year, Kinney formed a second company, this time a more fitting name, the Kinney Steamship Company and put Tecumseh as a subsidiary of Kinney Steamship.
The Kinney vessels were painted dark green on the hulls, with white cabins, and bright orange railings. On the smoke stack was a horizontal elongated diamond with an orange “K” outlined in white at the center. The company flag follows a similar design and can be seen on this three-foot rectangular flag. A bright orange “K” at the center with a white background.
Kinney Steamship had five boats in the fleet, however, they managed several boats from other companies. Kinney managed four vessels for Augustus B. Wolvin and the Jenkins Fleet (be sure to check back in later to learn more about Jenkins). When Kinney’s management ended between 1911-1913, he purchased three vessels between 1912-1914 to make up for the loss. The final vessel Kinney added to the fleet was the E.J. Earling, purchased from the Franklin Steamship Company in 1923. (click here to see the flag of Franklin Steamship and the E.J. Earling flying it.)
In 1929, Kinney stepped down as president of the company at 74 years old, handing it over to his friend Robert B. Wallace. This exchange came at a very unpredictable time with the Great Depression right around the corner. Wallace did everything he could but ultimately wasn’t able to keep up with the crashing market. The Kinney Steamship Company operated sporadically between 1931 and its dissolution in May of 1937.
This exhibit is made possible by visitors like you. Please consider making a donation to the National Museum of the Great Lakes to help us continue our important work of preserving and making know the history of the Great Lakes.