f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

USS Lorain County passes Cape riverfront

Posted Friday, July 6, 2012, at 12:00 AM

This picture of the USS Lorain County (LST-1177) was identified as a freighter in the Southeast Missourian in the caption below. The ship was enroute to New Orleans where it was commissioned Oct. 3, 1958. The length of the ship was 446 feet.

July 8, 1958 Southeast Missourian

This big freighter, being towed from the Great Lakes to New Orleans, passed Cape Girardeau Monday afternoon. The 600-foot Lorain County is shown here as it was being pushed by the towboat Larry Turner of the Hutchinson Barge Lines, Inc. of St. Louis. Three other barges were in the tow. Superstructure of the freighter, to be placed into ocean service, has been removed to permit passage under river bridges. (G.D. Fronabarger photo)

Noteworthy is the floodwall construction in progress at left.

Editor's Note:

The following information is taken from Wikipedia:

USS Lorain County (LST-1177) was a De Soto County-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during the late 1950s. Named after Lorain County, Ohio, she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.

Lorain County was laid down 9 August 1956 by the American Ship Building Company of Lorain, Ohio; launched 22 June 1957; sponsored by Mrs. Albert D. Baumhart, Jr., wife of Congressman Baumhart of Ohio; and commissioned at New Orleans 3 October 1958 with Lieutenant Commander Robert E. Du Bois in command.

This larger, air conditioned, and even more versatile version of the World War II "Landing Ship, Tank" conducted its shakedown out of Little Creek, Virginia and in January, 1959 joined PhibRon 6 for the first of many landing exercises on Onslow Beach, North Carolina. On 31 July her squadron steamed from Morehead City, North Carolina with marines embarked for Mediterranean deployment with the 6th Fleet. Returning to Little Creek 10 February 1961 she concentrated on training with marines. Each year she served several months with the Caribbean Ready Squadron. Such training proved its value during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when fully loaded, Lorain County remained on standby in the Caribbean from 22 October to 16 December. Castro's revolutionary pronouncements and his act of shutting off the water supply to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base prevented any true relaxation of tension in the area, and in June, 1965 Loraine County carried a Marine heavy artillery company to Guantanamo.

Her Caribbean training in 1966 was highlighted by a visit to Aruba, Netherlands West Indies with PhibRon 4. 1967 saw further Caribbean training and landing exercises, and deployment to the Mediterranean from 30 March to 24 May. After further operations in the Caribbean in early 1968, Lorain County began overhaul at Norfolk, Virginia on 24 June. On 2 December she left the yard and prepared for refresher training into 1969. From the time of commissioning, Lorain County spent her entire period of active service with the Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet. For 14 years, she engaged in amphibious operations along the east coast of the United States supplemented with extended operations in the Caribbean and regular deployments as a unit of the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.

Decommissioned on 1 September 1972 the tank landing ship was assigned to the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Norfolk. Transferred to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) 23 December 1994 for lay-up in the James River Reserve Fleet, Fort Eustis, Virginia, the ship was scrapped in October, 2002 at ESCO Marine, Brownsville, Texas.

Class and type: De Soto County-class tank landing ship
Displacement: 3,560 long tons (3,617 t) light

7,823 long tons (7,949 t) full load

Length: 446 ft (136 m)
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Draft: 17 ft (5.2 m)
Propulsion: 6 Cooper Bessemer fvam-16 direct reversible diesels,2400 HP ea.
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph)
Capacity: * 28 medium tanks or vehicles to 75 tons on 288 ft (88 m) tank deck

* 100,000 gal (US) diesel or jet fuel, plus 7,000 gal fuel for embarked vehicles

Troops: 410 officers and enlisted men
Complement: 170 officers and enlisted men
Armament: 3 × twin 3"/50 caliber gun mounts


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  • This was a US Navy LST (USS Lorain County), on it's way to be commissioned in New Orleans (October 1958).

    -- Posted by mmize on Sat, Jul 7, 2012, at 3:46 PM
  • Can't miss the smoke out of what I presume to be the shoe factory smokestack, back when smoke used to be a sign of progress, where nowadays it seems that the lack of smoke is deemed progress.

    Wondering what that other structure appearing to be a stack of some kind on upriver a ways is? Perhaps the Missouri Utilities power plant?

    -- Posted by fxpwt on Sat, Jul 7, 2012, at 9:04 PM
  • fxpwt,

    Here's an aerial of the shoe factory in the mid-60s:


    Here's what it looked like about 10 years later:


    The shoe factory stack is clearly visible in both, but I didn't shoot wide enough to get the power plant stack (or it might have been gone by then).

    -- Posted by Ken1 on Sun, Jul 8, 2012, at 11:34 AM
  • Interesting what one can find in the newspaper archives with a little scrounging. Kinda like a self-paced history lesson -

    An article from 1929 describing the history of electricity in Cape Girardeau, relating the first dynamo showed up around 1887.

    An article from 1930 describing the fatalities of two workers at the power plant due to a steam blowout.

    An article from 1949 describing the laying down of natural gas lines in the city, with a leg going to the power plant. This might explain why no smoke is seen in the 1958 photo - speculate the plant was converted from coal to natural gas soon after the gas line was in.

    An article from the mid-30s with a local utility authority suggesting that coal's time was done - natural gas is the way to go.

    An article from the mid-20s describing how the storm knocked out the smaller generator at the power plant, but the larger one was down anyway for a rebuild. Of interest was that the larger one was described to be a whopping 1,000 KW capacity - enough to serve only about 750 households at today's consumption rates, but apparently served all of Cape and many areas south - residential and industrial - at the time.

    An article from the early 50s describing a new power plant built near Oran, which gives Missouri Utilities three plants - one at Cape, Poplar Bluff, and now the Harry Newman station at Oran - and the redundancy that if one fails, the others can pick up the load.

    As late as 1988 - mention of the city looking into making its own power, referring to the success at Sikeston with their power plant.

    And photo #5 in this gallery - http://www.semissourian.com/gallery/6570/ shows a view from the west of the shoe factory and power plant, where the stack of the power plant is still belching black.

    -- Posted by fxpwt on Sun, Jul 8, 2012, at 6:20 PM
  • When the natural gas line was run to the Missouri Utilities power plant, natural gas was used to fire the boilers to produce steam. Coal was still being delivered to the plant by the Frisco (St. Louis - San Francisco) railroad to pre-heat the water before being introduced to the boilers.

    Ken Steinhoff's aerial photo reveals a circular pattern of gravel near the parked cars on the M.U. property. That was the location of a gasometer; a fuel tank with a floating cap for storing natural gas.

    -- Posted by klrwhizkid on Tue, Jul 24, 2012, at 6:24 PM