Once a splendid, twin stack, passenger steamship launched in Toledo, Ohio in 1900, the CHIPPEWA was designed to run as a fast commuter ship on the Great Lakes. She did so for seven years before a sale was negotiated by Joshua Green of the Puget Sound Navigation Co. with Arnold Transportation Co. Green’s partner, Charles E. Peabody, negotiated to purchase two other steamers, the INDIANAPOLIS and the IROQUOIS.
A mechanical overhaul was done on the CHIPPEWA at Hoboken prior to the departure on the afternoon of 18 February 1907, Capt. McClure, commanding and C. F. Bishop as chief engineer.
On her trip west to Seattle she traveled 17,500 miles on the Cape Horn passage. She spent 54 days, 17 hours of actual running time with some extremely rough weather in the Strait of Magellan.
Trouble began soon after the New York harbor pilot was dropped. Fires started throughout the ship as sea water shorted out the electrical cables.