The oldest American passenger steamship on the Great Lakes, the Milwaukee Clipper was built as the Juniata to carry passengers and freight. Her quadruple-expansion steam engine is one of the few surviving examples of this important engine type. In 1940 she was rebuilt as the Clipper. The entire ship reflected the new aesthetic streamlining of the Art Moderne style. Many design elements introduced in the Clipper are still being included in modern ocean-going passenger ships. The rebuilt ship served the route between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Muskegon, Michigan from 1941 to 1970.
During World War II the Clipper transported defense materials from Muskegon to Milwaukee. In peacetime, her only cargo was automobiles. Contracts with auto manufacturers to transport new cars during the winter months allowed the ship to operate at a profit without a full passenger load after most all-passenger vessels were forced into retirement.
Following extensive restoration efforts, the ship was opened for tours in August 2000. Visitors can now tour the pilothouse, some staterooms, crew quarters, dance floor and movie theater. There are also displays of memorabilia from both the Juniata and the Clipper. They include photographs, brochures, dishes and other items of interest. She is closed for the winter but will re-open this spring. Restoration work will continue for the foreseeable future.