In the era before jetliners and freeways, many Detroiters traveled in floating hotels, and for nearly forty years, the City of Detroit III whisked families away aboard the most opulent palace sailing the Great Lakes.
The beginning of the 20th century, trips on smoke-belching steamships were commonplace, whether Detroiters boarded steamers to Belle Isle or ferries across the Detroit River to Canada.
But such voyages were not only pleasure cruises, they were also one of the main ways people navigated around the Midwest.
The City of Detroit III was also a side-wheeler and sailed passenger trips and excursions on the Great Lakes for nearly 50 years.
One of the most popular lines was the Detroit & Cleveland (D&C) Navigation Co., the greatest of the so-called night lines, a sort of maritime “red eye” on which passengers boarded in the evening, slept the night away and awoke the next morning at their destinations.
D&C passengers took overnight trips from spring through fall, enjoying dinner and drinks as the ship steamed onward east to Cleveland or Buffalo, New York, or north to the Straits of Mackinac.