Chicago Maritime Museum

DSCN09271 You could be forgiven for not associating anything maritime with the largest city in the Midwest. Granted we sit on the southwestern shoreline of that Great Lake carved out by glaciers in the last ice age but it’s just that the Chicago’s maritime history isn’t as well known.

That maritime history history is kept alive by the Chicago Maritime Museum. Located in the Bridgeport Art Center (in the Bridgeport nieghborhood) the Museum’s mission is to “become recognized as the leading authority on our waterways and their significance to Chicago and the world in the past, present and future.”

This past weekend I visited the Chicago Maritime Museum for their annual Christmas party and took a look around. The Museum features a number of interesting model and photographic exhibits of significant Chicago maritime historical events and ships. Here’s some of what I saw:

1:72 model of the USS Wolverine on display at the Chicago Maritime Museum. Aircraft on deck are the Grumman Wildcat, an SNJ trainer, SBD dive bomber, Grumman Hellcat and Vought Corsair. A Grumman Avenger appears to the left and another SNJ is show trapping aboard aft.
Another view of the USS Wovlerine and the flight deck forward.


An SNJ caught trapping aboard the USS Wolverine.


This is an ELCO PT boat.



A taffrail log was an inturment used to measure a vessel’s speed.
A model commemorating the SS Eastland diaster on the Chicago River. The ship rolled over pierside on the southern branch of the Chicago River between Clark and LaSalle streets on 24 July 1915. 844 passengers and crew were killed.
A ships wooden screw. I’m not sure what the measurements denote.


Some of the warships that had visited Chicago over the years. There are some legandary names here.

There’s a lot more here to see and there are plenty of models being worked on by staff that you can view in various stages of completion in the storage area. The Chicago Maritime also put on a brief program about the Christmas Ships that brought trees from Wisconsin to Chicago. The most notable of these Christmas Tree ships being the Rouse Simmons. The legacy of which is now carred on every year about the United States Coast Guard Ship, Mackinaw.

USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30). Carries on the Christmas Tree legacy of the Rouse Simmons.
USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30). Carries on the Christmas Tree legacy of the Rouse Simmons.

The Chicago Maritime Museum is one of the city’s interesting most interesting place to learn about some little known Chicago History. The Museum does have plans for expansion but in the meantime it’s worth the visit if you have an interest in either maritime history or Chicago’s history.