Reprint of Hydrographic Information from Pilot Charts, Issues 1-25.
No. 12, Washignton, D.C. March 24, 1910
GREAT LAKES PORT FACILITIES
BAY CITY, MICH. - Is situated on the Saginaw River near its mouth. Before improvements there was a bar at the mouth of the river, but a cut has been made through it, so that there is now a channel 200 feet wide and 14 feet deep at least from the outer gas buoy to the Twenty-third Street Bridge in the city. From the southern limits of the city 10 to 11 feet can be carried in going up the river, and this depth exists as far as the city of Saginaw. Both sides of the river are lined with any number of wharves, and most of them have all the latest improvements for handling cargo.
The labor conditions are normal, and there are also good coaling facilities. The cost of coal on board of vessels is about $3 per ton. The port is open the usual time, that is, about eight months in the year, although for the local business it is often a little longer. There are engine and boiler shops that make a specialty of marine work.
The port has good dry docks; the Bay City Dock, having an entire length of 316 feet, and the James Davidson Dock having an entire length of 435 feet. The port has a complete wrecking system. The medical service is first class, and there are two large hospitals. There is a wireless station located here, and the city has two systems of telephones, with connections all over the State. The Postal Telegraph and Western Union both have lines here. The city is connected with the Michigan Central Railway system, the F. and P.M. system, the Grand Trunk system and the D. and M. system.
The Detroit and Cleveland Navigation run steamers here three times a week. The city does extensive shipbuilding, and some of the largest steamers on the Great Lakes have been built at Bay City and launched into the Saginaw River. There is a large lumber trade carried on between the United States and Canada through this port, and it also has quite a number of other ships trading in and out of here all the time.
Bay City has an estimated population of 60,000, and the river divides it, the two ports being connected by bridges. The dredged channel from Saginaw Bay is well buoyed, fixed white, for periods of 10 seconds, followed by 10 seconds eclipse. The east side of the entrance is marked by black spar buoy. The Saginaw River Range Lights, both fixed red, situated on the west bank of the river near its mouth, and ranging S. 3/8 W., lead through the cut. It is also well buoyed in the usual manner with red and black spar buoys, at intervals of about ½ mile. To enter the river, bring the lights in range when about 3 miles from the outer range light. Steer on this course, passing between the gas buoy and the black spar at the entrance and keeping the spar buoys up the channel on their proper sides until the outer range light is about 3/8 of mile away and the last channel buoys have just been passed. Then let her go S. ½ E. until abreast of the beacon light, when a mid channel course can be followed to the first bridge. Vessels should keep a good lookout for logs floating in the channel. In northerly winds the depth of water at the channel entrance will often come up a foot, and in S. and S.W. winds it will shoal up anywhere from 2 to 8 inches.
[From information furnished the Branch Hydrographic Office, Chicago, Ill., August, 1909, through the courtesy of Mr. James Davidson, shipbuilder, of Bay City.]