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Stateside: Sailing on a ship of pleasure


Early 20th-century steam ships traveling from Chicago to South Haven carried some promiscuous passengers.

Historian Larry Massie wrote a November article entitled “Floating Gomorra" for Encore Magazine, in which he investigated these ships and the people who frequented them.

In his article, Massie said that South Haven, a Mecca for Chicago tourists, placed a ban on alcohol.

This ban, said Massie, carried no authority on board the steam ships.

“These big steam ships carried thousands of passengers and, on board, anything went,” said Massie.

The voyage from South Haven to Chicago lasted about five hours.

There were no regulations at the time, for what occurred on the water; Massie felt these ships likely affected the legislation of prohibition.

“This is the kind of thing that didn’t really get put in print. This just shows that everybody is a human being," said Massie.

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