Shenango Steamship Company

The Shenango Steamship Company flag is characterized by its swallowtail shape with a blue border, and white within that border. The flag in the NMGL collection is three and three-quarter feet long. The symbol on the flag shows a red diamond with the letters “THE SS CO.” Shenango Steamship Co. is a subsidiary of the Shenango Furnace Co., which was an instrumental company in Great Lakes shipping operations. The Shenango Furnace Company was founded by William Penn Snyder in 1906 after decades of success in the steel industry. Snyder had all the holdings necessary to control the creation of steel from the raw ore to the finished product, however, he did not have control over the transportation of the ore therefore, he enlisted Great Lakes Engineering Works in Ecorse, Michigan to construct his first Great Lakes ore carrier. This carrier, the SS William P. Synder, was the first of several vessels to be a part of the Shenango Furnace Company’s fleet that hauled the ore and made an immense profit for Snyder. 

In 1909, while William Penn Snyder, President of the Shenango Furnace Co., and Col. James M. Schoonmaker, Vice President of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, stood on the steamer Shenango, Snyder was inspired to create a vessel that would change the face of Great Lakes shipping. Schoonmaker’s idea of producing a Great Lakes ship with a four-foot beam greater than any other led to Snyder commissioning the construction of Col. James M. Schoonmaker. In 1911, Col. James M. Schoonmaker became the world’s largest bulk freighter known as the “Queen of the Lakes.” This vessel was a part of the Shengago fleet until 1969 and maintained the colors of the fleet including blue, red, and white which can be seen in the Shenango Steamship Co. flag and the Shenango Furnace Co. flag as well. 

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.