History

picture of Great Lakes steamship
Wikimedia Commons/University of Maryland Digital Collections)

The Great Lakes might not be your first choice for a cruise vacation. But the passenger ships in the region used to be some of the most luxurious in the entire world. We learn more about these “floating palaces” from Detroit Historical Society Joel Stone, whose recent book profiles the history of the Great Lakes steamship industry.

If you wanted to travel in style around the Great Lakes during the 19th and early 20th centuries, you took a steamship. The boats' massive ballrooms and ornate furnishings earned them the nickname “palace steamers.” 

Dick Thelen photo
Kevin Lavery / WKAR

In the waning days of World War Two, a Japanese submarine sank the USS Indianapolis. Hundreds of sailors who survived the sinking spent four days in the water, facing sharks, dehydration and exposure. Current State’s Kevin Lavery brings us the incredible story of survivor Dick Thelen of Lansing.


There used to be a pair of Civil War era cannons on the grounds on the State Capitol building. On Saturday, there will be a ceremony to mark the installation of two replica cannons. State Senators Mike Kowall and Steve Bieda worked across the aisle to raise private money for the project. Current State talks with them about the project.


Roller coasters by the lake. Summer homes and resort hotels on the shore. If you’re picturing Cedar Point in Ohio, guess again. This was Haslett, Michigan more than 100 years ago. Current State examines the early days of Meridian Township with Jane Rose, executive director of the Meridian Historical Village and author of "Meridian Township."


Current State talks with Frederick Stonehouse. His book "The Last Laker: Finding a Wreck Lost in the Great Lakes’ Deadliest Storm" tells the story of the search for the SS Henry B. Smith, which sank in 1913.


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