SS Meteor is the sole surviving ship of the unconventional “whaleback” design. The design, created by Scottish captain Alexander McDougall (1845-1923), enabled her to carry a maximum amount of cargo with a minimum of draft. Whalebacks were also called “pig boats”, among other names, due to their appearance. The Meteor was built in 1896 in Superior, Wisconsin and, with a number of modifications, sailed until 1969. She is currently a museum ship in the city of her birth.
The Meteor is 380 feet long overall with a 366-foot keel. Other dimensions include a beam of 45 feet and a depth of 26 feet.
She and the other whalebacks, except one, were the first major boats on the Great Lakes with all accommodations aft and only a small room for the anchor windlass up at the bow. The John Ericsson was the only whaleback with the pilothouse at the bow. The Ericsson was also one of the last whalebacks on the lakes with the Meteor; she sailed on the Canadian side until 1964 when she was sold to the City of Hamilton, Ontario for use as a museum. The plan failed however and the Ericsson was scrapped in 1969. The Meteor is a relic of the early days of steam transportation on the lakes with many original fixtures, such as engine and wheel.