What-it-looked-like-Wednesday: Before it was the Edward M. Cotter…

By Steve Cichon

Since 1900, the boat now known as the Edward M. Cotter (below, middle) has served the Port of Buffalo as an ice breaker and firefighting vessel.

Buffalo News archives

After a rebuild and refit in 1953, the former WS Grattan was renamed in memory of favorite firefighter and union leader Cotter.

While occasionally breaking ice or fighting fires, these days the Cotter serves more as a floating museum, as testimony to the way things once were —  when as the WS Grattan, the then-coal-powered boat played in active role in one of the world’s great fresh water ports — Buffalo.

This undated shot shows the WS Grattan offering assistance to another vessel in Buffalo Harbor, while the W.W. Holloway is moored nearby. The Holloway spent 50 years on the Great Lakes, mostly carrying raw materials of the steel trade: coal and ore.

While the Cotter is certainly one of Buffalo’s more famous boats, the W.W. Holloway is Hollywood-famous.

In the 1980 cult classic film “The Blues Brothers,” it was the Holloway that was waiting to pass through Chicago’s 95th Street drawbridge when Jake and Elwood Blues veered around waiting cars to fly over the bridge and continue on their way.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.