For over 30 years, the old Circle Line V has sat rusting away at the mouth of the Ohio River; a nearly forgotten vessel. First departing in 1902, coming from Wilmington, Delaware, the ship was captained by railroad executive, J. Rogers Maxwell – a passionate yachter. Originally named the Celt, this 180-foot-long, steam-powered boat would experience many name changes throughout its wild and interesting life.
In 1917, once the Navy became in charge, the boat was renamed the “USS Sachem.” This boat was smaller and faster than other boats, proving worthy in its ability to maneuver around and escape attacks by the Germans; thus the US Navy rented this ship, along with many others. Equipped with depth charges to sink German U-boats, as well as machine guns to aid in the fight against incoming torpedoes, this boat now proved a worthy adversary of German units.
A rare photo, taken by Lewis Lueder, shows Edison cleanly shaven and enjoying his time on the yacht.
Lewis Lueder – http://my.athenet.net/~nipper/page6.html
After the war ended, the ship was sold off to Roland L. Taylor – a Philadelphia banker, who then released it to Captain Jake martin, using the boat as a chartered fishing boat during the Great Depression. Fast forward a handful of years, and welcome 1941. During this year, the Navy bought back the ship at a price tag of $65,000, then using it to train soldiers on using sonar equipment in the Key West Harbor. Not long after the Navy’s re-purchase, the ship was renamed the USS Phenakite. After some time patrolling Long Island Sound, the ship was eventually returned to Captain Martin, who is actually known to be a pioneer of party boat fishing.
As if surviving two World Wars wasn’t enough, the Sachem was then stationed in New York City, where it ferried tourists around Manhattan for the next 40 years, and even appeared in Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” music video before its demise. During these years, the ship underwent two name changes – first being renamed to the Sightseer, and finally the Circle Line V, which is still visible on the boat’s side.
During the 1980s, the ship made its final rounds. Robert Miller, a resident of Lawrenceburg, KY purchased the boat at the price of $7,500. One day, after venturing up the Ohio River, the boat was “lost.” For 30 years, nobody really knew where it went (I’m sure a few did) – but it was not until recent years that this incredible collection of history was resurrected. Though it may remain nothing more than an empty, rusted skeleton of a once vibrant vessel, the story of its incredible life will live on.