“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sheboygan in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Home Fleet

The Home Fleet Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, April 16, 2011
1. The Home Fleet Marker
Inscription. In the year 1880, when the City of Sheboygan was a struggling village of 2,000 and the country was recovering from the Civil War, people of great vision were establishing businesses that would impact the region for generations. One of those people was Clemens A. Reiss, a thrifty German immigrant with a strong work ethic and a keen business sense.

In 1880 Reiss established Clemens Reiss and Company, a Sheboygan-based shipping company which dealt in coal, wood, salt and building materials. Eight years later he changed the name of the company to The C. Reiss Coal Company, and incorporated it. In 1890 the company acquired its first vessel, and it was at about that time that The Reiss Steamship Company was established as a separate entity.

In the early days, the company shipped coal on lake schooners. These schooners were unloaded by means of rope and tackle attached to the mast, with power provided by one man leading one hors back and forth to raise and lower an oak stave barrel half. In later years, while coal remained the primary cargo of the company, the Reiss ships also carried large amounts of iron ore, limestone, and grain. At its peak, the steamship line carried ten million tons of cargo a year. The Reiss carriers were distinctive because of their sparkling white cabins, jet black hulls, and tall, shiny black
Closeup of Photos on the Home Fleet Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, April 16, 2011
2. Closeup of Photos on the Home Fleet Marker
smoke stacks adorned with a white letter R. For many years the logo of the Reiss Steamship Company, a red and black diamond with the white letter R in the center, was recognized throughout the Great Lakes as the symbol of one of the most progressive shipping companies in the region.

Reiss was among the first steamship companies to install radio direction finders, radar, marine telephones, diesel engines, high speed steam turbines, bow thrusters, and self-unloader booms. Its continuous efforts to improve and upgrade the fleet included enlarging the 618 foot S.S. William A. Reiss, in about 1960. The vessel was cut from bow to stern, the top half was raised, and a six foot section was added, thereby increasing its carrying capacity by about fifty percent.

The Reiss fleet was insured for many years through Lloyds of London, and representatives from that firm travelled to Sheboygan annually to review its insurance coverage. Further evidence of the progressive nature of the company was the foundation, by Reiss and several other steamship companies, of the Great Lakes Protective Association. That association was a marine insurance company which, according to one marine historian, was developed "to keep the boys at 'Lloyds' on their toes!"

During the more than eighty years of its existence the Reiss Steamship Company owned over forty ships, including
The Home Fleet Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, April 16, 2011
3. The Home Fleet Marker
The marker is on the kiosk in the lower left part of this photo. Sheboygan Harbor and Lake Michigan are in the background.
tugs, bulk carriers, and self-unloaders, with the S.S. Reiss Brothers the flagship of the fleet.

Over the years the volume of cargo carried over the Great Lakes declined, resulting in a consolidation of the lake fleets. The Reiss Steamship Company was sold in 1969 to the American Steamship Company. At the time of the sale, the Reiss fleet consisted of five bulk carriers and six self-unloaders.

While the Reiss Steamship Company no longer exists, many of the residents of Sheboygan remember that, when the Reiss ships left Sheboygan harbor, they always gave the "Great Lakes Salute" - three long blasts of the ship's horn followed by two short blasts - to the headquarters of the steamship company. That memory will always linger on.
Location. 43° 45.125′ N, 87° 42.184′ W. Marker is in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in Sheboygan County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Broughton Drive and New York Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. The marker is between the marina and the parking lot in Deland Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 901 Broughton Drive, Sheboygan WI 53083, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fiery Passage (here, next to this marker); Bustling Shipyards
The Marker is in Deland Park image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, April 16, 2011
4. The Marker is in Deland Park
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Heroic Seamen (approx. 0.2 miles away); Seils–Sterling Circus (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Phoenix Tragedy (approx. 0.9 miles away); Schooner Gallinipper (approx. 0.9 miles away); North Point /Sheboygan Point (approx. one mile away); Revolutionary War Veteran (approx. 1.5 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Sheboygan.
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 586 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.   4. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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