SS Dorothy Bradford, Boston, Mass

The steamer Dorothy Bradford leaving Boston, with the Custom House Tower in the background, in the late 1920s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The scene in 2013:


The SS Dorothy Bradford was built in 1889 for the Cape Cod Steamship Company, and brought passengers to and from Provincetown on Cape Cod.  The company shut down in 1937, and the Dorothy Bradford was sold for scrap.

The Boston Public Library estimates the date of this photo as 1930, but it had to have been earlier than that, because the steamer behind the Dorothy Bradford, the SS Mary Chilton, burned in a fire along with almost the entire rest of its company’s fleet in a fire in November 1929.

9 thoughts on “SS Dorothy Bradford, Boston, Mass”

  1. The Dorothy Bradford was still in service in 1938 when I was born. My father Joseph J. Ilacqua was Chief Engineer and my mother told me she would have me sleep on his bed on trips.

  2. This is so interesting! Do you happen to know who were typical passengers? Was it middle class tourists? Or did this ship enable members of the working class and immigrants to vacation on Cape Cod as well? Thank you!

  3. My father, Ripley Keating worked on the Dorothy Bradford; his brother, Gordon Keating was also on the ship at the same time, He may have been the captain at one point. At least that is family lore. Does anyone have any information or know where I can find it?

    • Hello Joan, when I was a kid , I worked with Captain Gordon Keating. He was working for Massachusetts Bay Lines on Rowes Wharf , Atlantic Ave Boston. He was Captain of the motor vessel Vineyard Queen. As I recall, he was Captain of the SS Steel Pier
      which also ran the Boston to Provincetown route.
      This had to be 1966 or 1967. I think Gordon was fatally injured in a car wreck in Florida.
      Gordon was also a member of the Boston Marine Society. Member # 2615 admitted
      09 October 1934. USN Historian.
      He was a fine man,very proper and dignified. I wish I had spent more time with him.
      He was a wealth of nautical history.

    • My father said Gordon Keating was the Captain at some point. He read that in a book. I actually have a one of the life preservers from the SS Dorothy Bradford, Boston. Along with other items such as a gavel and some pictures. My parents acquired those when we lived in N Abington, Mass. in the mid 70’s

  4. Does anyone have any information on Capt. Alberto F. Kent before he was Capt of the SS Dorothy Bradford? I have a scale model built by him around 1928 and given to my grandfather Her EMT R. Drury upon completion. It is a scale model of The Vagabond.


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