The History of the Valley Camp

Built in Lorain, Ohio in 1917 for the Producers Steamship Company, the ship was first named LOUIS W. HILL. In 1936 it changed hands, and carried the star of National Steel Corporation on its stack. Later, under the ownership of Wilson Marine Transit, it was re-named VALLEY CAMP, in honor of  the Valley Camp Coal Company.

In 1957, the VALLEY CAMP was sold to Republic Steel Corporation and sailed with this fleet until the autumn of 1966. From 1917 until it’s last voyage in 1966, the 11,500 ton ship logged some 3 million miles and carried in excess of 16 million tons of cargo. A length of 550 feet, beam of 58 feet, and depth of 31 feet, the VALLEY CAMP has a crew of 32 men. Purchased by Le Sault de Sainte Marie Historical Sites, Inc., the ship arrived at Sault Ste. Marie on July 6, 1968, during Sault Ste. Marie’s tri-centennial celebration.

By donations, grants, volunteer work, and much foresight, the Steamship VALLEY CAMP has become the most unique Maritime Museum on the Great Lakes. The museum ship VALLEY CAMP is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as an historic vessel. Visitors have the opportunity to explore and look in every nook and cranny of the great ship. In addition, the huge cargo holds have hundreds of interesting artifacts, paintings, shipwreck items, models, and exhibits of objects related to maritime history.


The web site features an historical perspective of the S.S. Valley Camp, formally christened in 1917 as the S.S. Louis W. Hill.  You will be able to view 64 pictures, as well as a complete listing of the Masters and Chief Engineers.
Once you are logged on to the main web page of the Boatnerd web site, go to the New Features in the Historical Perspectives Gallery. We are featured in the June 2012 segment.

  • Downbound at Mission Pt. - Thomas Manse collection
  • Upbound in the Keweenaw Waterway - Thomas Manse Collection
  • Loading at the Soo Line dock in Ashland - Chris Mazzella collection
  • Her last season of operation - Thomas Manse Collection
  • Departing the Davis Lock - The tug John Purves handled the tow -July 3 1968
  • Arriving at Sault Ste. Marie to begin her new career as a museum ship- July 3-1968 -Photo by Roger LeLievre
  • Aerial View of Valley Camp and tugboat The Favorite -Roger LeLievre collection
  • On deck looking aft during the tow- April 22 1972 - Thomas Manse collection
  • Original name still on the railing stanchions - Roger LeLievre collection
  • Stern view from a tour boat - June 28 2008 - Photo Matt Miner


Le Sault de Sainte Marie Historical Sites, Inc.

  • 501 East Water Street
  • Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
  • Toll Free (888) 744-7867
  • Local (906) 632-3658
  • Fax (906) 632-9344
Sault Ste. Marie
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