S.S. Turret Crown and the AEC
By Dick Morris and Pat Durand

The Alaska Engineering Commission obtained much of the surplus from the Panama Canal Commission to start construction in Alaska.  As a 2nd Lt. the future Col. Mears, had been in charge of rebuilding the Panama Railroad.  He had also been given command of all the the ocean going vessels supplying the canal project. This knowledge proved very valuable in his management of the AEC.  Many veterans of the Canal Project came with him to Alaska..

Turrent Crown

The Turret Crown was built with the "turret" characteristic where the deck house was built up on a round tub and the hull curved in to meet the deck. When fully loaded the vessel would ride low in the water similar to the Great Lakes whale back ships. The design allowed waves to wash over the deck and presented less superstructure for wind resistance. Here she is deck loaded with flat cars bound for The Alaska Engineering Commission in Alaska.

Notes from the Panama Canal Commission referencing materials prepared and stored for future shipment North.

Equipment for Alaska Will Probably Be Shipped Next Month.

The cargo of equipment formerly used on the Canal which has been prepared for shipment to the Alaskan Engineering Commission, as noted in The Canal Record of June 14. 1916, is still awaiting transportation. It is stored on the old French pier at Balboa. It is expected, however, that it will be lifted some time in February by the steamship Turret Crown, which is due February 15. The only material which has gone forward from the Canal for the Alaskan Engineering Commission is a shipment of 47,000 pounds of copper wire, which was forwarded to San Francisco on September 21 on the steamship San Juan of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company.

The material waiting on the pier consists of 50 Lidgerwood flat cars, 11 locomotives, 2 steam shovels, and 5 dump cars. The Commission has sent in an order for four large locomotives in addition to the above, 50 fiat cars, and 45 dump cars, and it is expected to have them ready for the Turret Crown.

Of the material which has been in readiness under the previous order, four of the locomotives are of the kind known on the Isthmus as the 201-type, which is a mogul type, class 2-6-0, weighing 112 tons with the tender and having a length over all of 62 feet 2 inches; one is of the 301-type, essentially the type of the 201 but smaller, having weight of 105 tons and length over all of 59 feet 2 inches; and six are 42-inch gauge engines carrying all weight on the drivers (type 0-6-0) for hauling on steep grades, with a weight of 33.4 tons and length over all of 28 feet 11 inches. The two steam shovels are 70-ton Bucyrus. The dump cars are 12-yard Oliver. All of the rolling stock except the narrow gauge locomotives has been changed from the Isthmian standard gauge of 5 feet to the United States standard of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches.

From OHIOLINK the following reference is obtained.


"Turret Crown" was another of the steel ships built at Sunderland, England. It was built in 1895 and was operated by the Canadian Lake & Ocean Navigation Co. of Montreal, Quebec. It was the last of its fleet on Canadian registry in 1924. Odd in construction, "Turret Crown" narrowed at the top, being built for Suez Canal trade from England. It was sold in 1922, by W. J. & S. P. Heriwed (out of London, England), to A. B. Mackey of Hamilton, Ontario. In 1924, it was sold again, this time to W. C. Jordan of Goderich, Ontario. The ship later hit shore and, thus, wrecked on Meldrum Bay, Manitoulin Island, on November 2, 1924. "Turret Crown" was abandoned by tugs and its insurance company on that same day.



Here she is shown riding high and empty. In this view a deck railing with skirt is evident from bow to stern.


S.S. Turret Crown unloading at the Seward Dock 1916?


S.S. Turret Crown at dock side in Anchorage 1917





S.S. Turret Crown Unloading Panama Freight in Anchorage


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