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The Cruise of the Naphtha Launch ABBIE

An 1889 Lake Superior adventure

by George Jepson


Naphtha Launch ABBIE article spreadIn 1889, the 30′ LOA fantail launch ABBIE, propelled by a 4-hp naphtha engine, set out from Marquette, Michigan, on a month’s coastal cruise around Lake Superior; aboard was a six-man crew, including owner John Munro Longyear. The launch was the first recreational motorboat on Lake Superior. The journey covered nearly 700 miles, and Longyear, an accomplished photographer, made images all along the way. Here’s the story of that trip, drawn from Longyear’s journals and images.