The Col. James M. Schoonmaker was built at the Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse, Michigan. She was christened by Gretchen Schoonmaker daughter of the ship’s namesake and launched on July 1, 1911. The Schoonmaker was unsurpassed in both size and elegance. On her maiden trip, she carried 12,650 net tons of coal from Toledo, Ohio to Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The ship held the title of “Queen of the Lakes” as the largest ship operating on the Great Lakes until April 14, 1914.