Bison Shipyard Gallery

Joseph J. Ernst, President of the Bison Shipbuilding Corporation, christening the LCT “Blue Star”, at the Bison Shipyard in North Tonawanda, NY in June of 1944.

The “Blue Star” was an LCT with a special look and a special mission. Instead of the standard battleship gray, she was painted blue. On the outside of both of her forecastles, and on her stern, was a large blue star inside a white circle.

The “Blue Star’s” mission was to inspire the already patriotic American public to buy more war bonds. After a very successful sendoff in the Tonawandas she visited some forty other cities and towns were she was the center of attraction at more bond rallies.

Some of the ceremonies that preceded the christening and launching of the LCT “Blue Star” at the Bison Shipyard, at North Tonawanda, N. Y., in early June of 1944.

The gentleman at the microphone is Mr. Joseph J. Ernst, the President of the Bison Shipbuilding Corporation. Several other officers of this corporation, as well as four United States Military officers, also share the speaker’s platform.

This photo was on June 11, 1944 and shows the LCT “Blue Star” moored on the south bank of the New York State Barge Canal, in Tonawanda, N.Y.

The occasion was the kick off of the Fifth War Loan Drive. Part of the estimated five thousand Western New York residents that were reported to have visited the “Blue Star” on this occasion can be seen in this picture.

Notice that two Richardson built LCVPs can also be seen in this picture.


A view of the Bison Shipyard looking toward the north east. In as much as the large building was still under construction when this picture was made, it was probably taken in mid 1943.

Notice that assembly of boats is still going on as the building is being worked on.

Just above the truck are two stern sections, or “fantails”. The two sections at the far right are for the mid-ship part of the boat. The highest section to their left is one which went just forward of the fantail. Notice how the bottom of this section is curved upward on the right side. This was the start of the reduction of the height of the boat at the stern, and matched the forward end of the fantail when assembled.

The large building was 125 feet wide by 160 feet long. In as much as the boats were nearly one hundred and twenty feet long, the clearance at each end was only about two and one half feet.

This photo shows LCT 185 in the launching area at the Bison Shipyard. This boat was a Mark 5 model and was the first LCT that Bison built. She is positioned on the “tilting” ways which, in this case, were kept from tilting by wooden “cribbing” under the outer end. Later on this cribbing was replaced by jack posts, which were more convenient, and safer, to use.

One of the stationary sloping ways which extended into the water of the Little River can be seen in this picture. There were a total of six ways which extended for the length of the assembly line and supported the boats as they were being built.

LCT 185 was one of the boats that was built in three sections. These three sections were bolted together so that they could be taken apart for loading and shipping on merchant ships that didn’t have sufficient deck area to accommodate a complete LCT. Some of the bolts that held these sections together can be seen here. They are located just to the left of each of the two men who are standing on the ground next to the boat.

On the ground, in the middle of the picture, are four arc welding power supplies, or as they were more often called “welding machines”.

In the foreground, at the left side of the picture, is an air compressor on a trailer. Enlarging the picture reveals the name of the manufacturer of this machine to be “Thor”.

At the left edge of the picture, beyond the bow of the LCT, is a building that was located at the North East corner of the Bison Shipyard. That building is still standing today (2004) and is being used as a boat house.

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54 Webster Street
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
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