Amid considerable fanfare, a 9,000-ton merchant steamship glided gracefully into the Delaware River at historic Chester Shipyards, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 22, 1919.
With a band playing “On the Banks of the Wabash Far Away” before more than 1,000 spectators, Margaret Minshall Craig, a Terre Haute native, smashed a champagne bottle over the ship’s bow and shouted, “I christen thee ‘Terre Haute.’”
The weather was perfect. Mrs. Craig appeared on the launching platform carrying a large bouquet of flowers wrapped by a ribbon with “S.S. Terre Haute” in gold letters, a gift from the officials. She gave the bottle an athletic swing as if she had been christening ships all of her life.
The S.S. Terre Haute was 401 feet long and 54 feet across. The hull was 32 feet, 9 inches deep. Its wireless masts towered 10 stories above the surface. It cost $2 million, $200,000 more than estimated by Charles Peddle, a