Captain W.H. Van Dyke banner

Captain Van DykeCaptain Wallace Henry Van Dyke "Was One of the Last Great Lakes 'Skippers' of Sail Days", his career reached back to the schooner days. Captain "Andy" Van Dyke was Master of the Steamer Pere Marquette 22, when on March 25, 1936 he suffered a heart attack and died peacefully in his cabin while enroute to Ludington. John W. Stram (Captain Andy's son-in-law) and Dr. Scott, family doctor and close personal friend, met the Steamer #22 and found Captain Van Dyke lying on the floor. They picked him up and laid him in his bunk. Dr. Scott is quoted as saying "I don't care what the law says, Captain Van Dyke is too important a man to be found laying on the floor".

Pere Marquette 17He was born at Escanaba, MI on November 13, 1871 and spent most of his life on the Great Lakes (he joined the crew of a schooner at the age of 15). He first captained the Pere Marquette Line Steamer No. 8, then in 1916 he joined the Pere Marquette carferry fleet. His first command was the Steamer 15. Then for 10 years he served as master of the Steamer 17, and since the launch of the No. 32, he served as master of the Steamer 22.

Captain Van Dyke meticulously kept records and photographs and compliled them into scrap books, making one of the most complete Great Lakes records in existance. Much of this has been donated to the White Pine Village in Ludington. Captain Van Dyke made many great accomplishments during his lifetime, including overcoming the loss of his right arm in a hunting accident. Here is just one example:

"On January 15, 1926 stormy Lake Michigan caused the Pere Marquette #18 to be run aground on a reef seven miles South of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was half full of cargo and railroad cars. To help save this Pere Marquette carferry and cargo and to keep the salvage boats from getting her, Captain Van Dyke engineered it so that when the two carferries were stern to stern a railroad car would be released from the #18 and run into the hole of the Pere Marquette #17. The ships rolled with the waves and every so often at the slope of the wave another railroad car would be released and roll aboard the #17. It took six hours for this feat to be achieved, and with the 14 loaded railroad cars removed, the #18 was light enough to float successfully off the reef. Not only had Captain Van Dyke saved the cargo but he had saved the Pere Marquette steamship #18 as well. He recieved a letter of accommodation from the company for this brilliant strategy."

Click here for a photo of this event.


Read the story of Captain W.H. Van Dyke, written by his Granddaughter, Mary Edith Stram Perreault, 1984.


Mary Edith Stram Perreault and Andy Perreault, without whom this page would not have been possible. Mary Edith Stram Perreault is the Granddaughter of Captain Van Dyke, and Andy is his Great-Grandson. They contributed most of the photos and provided the material for this page. Photos of the Pere Marquettes 15, 17, 22, and 32 courtesy of the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society.

The background for this page was made from an image of the pilot house of the Pere Marquette Steamer #22, with Captain Van Dyke and his crew assembled.

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Launched: 09/25/97 Refitted: 12/20/97
Copyright © 1998 M. Hanley