MI Road Trip: Landing Crafts and Pantyhose!


Have you ever seen an LST?  In particular – USS LST-393?  What the heck is USS LST-393, you ask?  Well, it is in Muskegon, Michigan, and we had the opportunity to see it after our visit to the Hackley and Hume Historic Site.

This is an LST-1 class landing ship, built during World War II to transport troops, vehicles and equipment. There were 1051 built during the War; this is one of only two to survive in its original configuration. USS LST-393 was critical to the following operations: the Sicilian occupation in July 1943, the Salerno landings in September 1943, and the one she is most famous for – the Normandy invasion in June 1944. She landed on Omaha Beach on the night of June 6, 1944 and offloaded several Sherman tanks and other materials, before spending another two days stuck on the beach due to the tides.

The back of USS LST-393.

The back of USS LST-393.

In all, she made over 30 trips back and forth between Normandy Beach and England, supplying equipment and bringing back wounded soldiers and German POWs. After the European theater wound down, she was retrofitted for service in the Pacific Theater, she was on her way to the Panama Canal for a trip to Japan when the Japanese surrendered.

USS LST-393 in Muskegon, Michigan. Sorry about the quality of the photo; there was a fence so I couldn’t get a better angle.  These are the doors where the equipment was unloaded onto the beach.

USS LST-393 in Muskegon, Michigan. Sorry about the quality of the photo; there was a fence so I couldn’t get a better angle. These are the doors where the equipment was unloaded onto the beach.

After her wartime service, she was purchased by the Sand Products Corporation and began life as a merchant ship, transporting new cars from Muskegon to Milwaukee. Since 2000, a couple of volunteer groups have been trying to restore her; she has been cleaned and painted and is open for tours during the summer. As she was closed for the season when we visited, we took some pictures and marveled at her enormous size – 328 feet in length and 50 feet wide, carrying a crew of about 140 men.

While driving around Muskegon, we also saw a gigantic, empty building that piqued our interest; it had a giant sign that said Amazon on top. I was sure it wasn’t the current Amazon retailer, but what was it?

As it turns out, the Amazon Hosiery Company moved from Indiana to Muskegon in 1895. Amazon produced cotton underwear, gloves, hosiery, hooked rugs and army shirts. At its peak, it employed over 1,000 people – mostly women. Unfortunately, materials rationing during World War II spelled the end for the Amazon Hosiery Company.

The Amazon Hosiery Company Building – Now an apartment complex

The Amazon Hosiery Company Building – Now an apartment complex

After the war, several businesses occupied the space, and then it sat vacant for about a decade, until it was converted to apartments beginning in the 1990s. The project was completed in 2001. It is a beautiful building from the outside; it would be neat to see what they did with the apartments!

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2 thoughts on “MI Road Trip: Landing Crafts and Pantyhose!

  1. It’s funny to see the things that visitors do, that locals don’t. Lived my entire life in West Michigan, but have never been to Hackley House (although I’ve been past it). Same for LST-393, and the Silversides. Fun to see it thru your eyes.

    Wonder the percentage of New Yorkers who’ve never been to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. Significant, I’ll bet.

    • Isn’t that funny! I’ve thought about that a lot, and after your comment I looked up the Top 10 TripAdvisor Things to Do for my town. I had done all but one, so I guess I’m not doing too bad… I guess on another one, although I have been to that park, I hadn’t done that particular hike. So if I can’t count that either, 8 of 10 isn’t bad… But they are almost all outdoor things – we just don’t have much in the way of museums or historical sites around my town.

      I have a friend who was a nanny on Long Island for two years when I was finishing college. My parents bought me a plane ticket for graduation and I went to visit her. She had a friend, a local Long Islander who was a teacher (with summers off…) and this was August. We were planning to go into the city for the day to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and we asked if she wanted to join us since she was off. She said no. I said, “yeah, well you live here, so I’m sure you have been there tons of times.” She responded, “Actually, I’ve never been to either…” I was so surprised by that, especially since she was a teacher! I have never forgotten it.

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