The U.S.S. Essex served Minnesotans for only three years before being stricken from the Navy list on Oct. 27, 1930. The Essex's sale for scrapping on Dec. 23, 1930, led the Detroit Free Press to lament the loss of the oldest steam-powered vessel on the Navy list, the vessel having outlived all five vessels of its class. The second most long-lived, the U.S.S. Adams, was sold from the Navy in 1920. The Detroit Free Press article on Nov. 22, 1930, stated On December 17 initial steps to divorce her from the navy will be instituted when she is offered to the highest bidder adjudged capable of treating her kindly in her old age.
The Essex was sold by the navy to A. J. Klatzky, president of the Klatzky Iron and Metal Company for $400. The vessel was partially dismantled and some pieces of the ship were sent as souvenirs to former officers and enlisted men throughout the country. The Essex was towed out to the lake side of Minnesota Point on Oct. 13, 1931, where it was to be put to the torch. A bonfire was started on Oct. 14, and the oldest steam cruiser in the navy soon passed into history. The Essex was lit with 200 gallons of kerosene and oil and by morning the vessel had burned to the water's edge. According to The Superior Evening Telegram of Nov. 2, 1984, ...two heavy steel cables held the ship so a strong wind could not blow it out to sea. What was left of the ship was towed further into shore by means of a hand winch and the fire continued to burn. It was the ambition of the Klatsky Brothers to burn enough of the boat to pull its bottom up on shore.
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