A type of ship invented and built by Captain Alexander McDougall. Whalebacks get their name from their distinctive appearance - their topsides are rounded like a whale's back. They were also called 'pigs'.

McDougall built 44 of these vessels - the first in 1889. Whalebacks were used to haul iron ore, grain, and other commodities. Some were even converted into oil tankers. When first built, whalebacks were envisaged as revolutionizing Great Lakes shipping, but by 1910 only 6 of them were still in use.

Lake Superior is still home to one of McDougall's whalebacks. The SS Meteor, originally named the Frank D. Rockefeller, was built in 1896 and is the last remaining whaleback ship in existence. It is permanently berthed as a maritime museum on Barker's Island in Superior, Wisconsin. The SS Meteor was built just one mile from it's final resting place.

Whale"back` (?), n. (Naut.)

A form of vessel, often with steam power, having sharp ends and a very convex upper deck, much used on the Great Lakes, esp. for carrying grain.


© Webster 1913.

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