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Nancee Harrison 02-05-2014 02:13 PM

Benson Ford Forecastle
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Subject: Benson Ford Forecastle

I am attaching three photos also in a second thread on this message board.

The Benson Ford has rooms with an ocean view: a 90-year-old cargo ship serving as a holiday home hanging over a cliff on Lake Erie
The ship originally transported iron and coal for Ford Motor Company.
The interior designed by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison was a passenger
Was decommissioned in 1981 after nearly 50 years of service
Ship's forecastle removed and hung over Lake Erie as a holiday home

During its time in service this cargo ship played host to illustrious guests such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
From the time it was built in 1924, the boat was also used to transport coal and iron ore across the American lakes.
After being decommissioned in 1981 it was left to rust for four years before the front part of the ship was removed, sailed to Lake Erie, and perched on top of an 18 foot cliff to serve as a holiday home.

The Benson Ford was originally a cargo ship for the Ford motor company, but has been converted into a holiday home hanging above Lake Erie

Looking over the bow, which dangles 18 foot above the Lake, it still looks as if the boat is sailing

The ship still contains wood paneled state rooms, dining room and lounge designed by Henry Ford

The boat was used by Ford himself to travel across the American Lakes and Thomas Edison also took a ride
The four-deck, 7,000 square foot getaway is made out of the ship's forecastle and includes the walnut paneled state rooms, dining room, galley, and passenger lounge designed by Henry Ford for his own personal use while on board.

The ship-house was originally owned by Frank J Sullivan, but after trying and failing to turn it into a hotel in 1992, Sullivan eventually auctioned the building to father and son Jerry and Bryan Kaspar, who still like to relax there while taking time off work.

However it has been modernized with a garage, a game room, bar, state-of-the-art kitchen and four bathrooms.

Don't look down: Tourists may need a head for heights if they take a tour out onto the bow of the boat

The four-story, 7,000sq ft home has kept the historic interior and updated it with some modern technology

Along with the original features the ship's forecastle now has a garage, kitchen, bar and games room

New life: After being decommissioned in 1981 the ship was left to rust but in 1986 the forecastle was removed (left) before being sailed to Lake Erie and perched on top of a cliff (right) where it remains to this day
Tourists are also able to take guided walks around the vessel which hangs 18 feet above the surface of Lake Erie.
Bryan Kaspar said: 'Everyone that sees it is intrigued to look inside and I think everyone that looks inside is amazed at the woodwork throughout the ship.
'Also from the bow it almost feels like you are on the water because of its close proximity to Lake Erie.

Frank J Sullivan, who first converted the vessel, tried to turn it into a hotel in 1992 but was denied permission

Sullivan sold it to father and son Jerry and Bryan Kaspar in 1999 who now allow guided tours around the house

The impressive getaway includes five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a captain's office and living room with panoramic views out across the Lake
'I love the deck on the fourth floor - It's a great place to enjoy a cocktail overlooking the lake and the nearby cliffs and watching the sunset is amazing from there.'

Videographer Nick James, who conducts tours of the hotel, said: 'The most incredible part is standing at the helm and the way the boat hangs over the cliff it actually feels like you are out on the open water.
'I love the history that is still all around in the Benson Ford. In the parlor you can just imagine Thomas Edison and Henry Ford sitting smoking their cigars.
'When you're there it feels as though you step back in time and they could appear at any moment.'

Nancee Harrison 02-05-2014 02:15 PM

Benson Ford Forecastle
3 Attachment(s)
Other photos of the Benson Ford Forecastle

R. Dale Flick 02-05-2014 03:30 PM

Hi, Nancee & Steamboating colleagues,
Many thanks for you posting and pictures of the classic former steam 'laker' BENSON FORD and the restoration on her forecastle. This story of ship preservation--even if in part--received detailed coverage in one of SSHSA's quarterly editions of 'PowerShips.' The cost and work detailed to say the least. No big deal if you have deep pockets, I guess. When in service, the BENSON came with a professional chef, stewards, fine staterooms and fittings for the high honchos of the company when they toured the lakes. Reminiscent of the classic pilothouse from the Str. TELL CITY now at the Ohio River Museum in Marietta, Ohio. It only takes money. In fact, I'm packing up now heading to our ocean ship tomorrow for two weeks with an ever bigger forecastle. Thanks for sharing.

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati

Bob Reynolds 02-05-2014 06:36 PM

There's really only one word for that...COOL!

Lexie Palmore 02-08-2014 11:37 AM

Which ever bigger f'ocsle will you be on?

And yes, that ship sticking out over the water is cool. Just looks like it needs a push.

R. Dale Flick 02-08-2014 09:21 PM

*We're at sea tonight*
Hi, Lexie,
We're at sea tonight having sailed yesterday from Ft. Lauderdale on PRINCESS CRUISES for two weeks. Weather sunny in the 80s even at sea. The 'shock' of seeing green vegetation, tropical flowers a real treat to the eyes after the stark bleakness with snow/ice. Ship is fully booked. Food wonderful as to be expected. A full day steaming tomorrow until Monday when we reach the Virgin Islands. Seas approaching a 'working sea' but no discomfort so far. Toady viewed flying fish, porpoise in pods at sea along side of the ship. Coast of northern South America some days off. Greetings to all.

R. Dale Flick
steaming at sea

Tom Schiffer 02-12-2014 08:16 AM

Rub it in, Dale! Rub it in! Life here on the 'south shore' (Gunpowder Road; Gunpowder Creek) has the same bleak aspect you left behind. It was zero here yester; 7 above this AM. The ruts in my drive are so deep and solid that my car's wheels cannot get out, EXCEPT on the turn that keeps you out of Gunpowder Creek! Great care must be exercised. The creek IS frizz over, but I don't wanna go there in my car! How about bringing some of that tropical air home with you?? Cap'n Walnut.

John Fryant 02-12-2014 10:02 PM

Dale, Does your ship have a "Mark Twain Library"? If so is there a model displayed there of a sternwheeler named Princess? If so it might be the one I built a looong time ago. I know that model ended up on one of the Princess cruise ships but I don't remember which one. If its there take some photos of it please.

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