The Ghost Ship of Kentucky

Aug 2016

Tucked away in a small creek just a bit downstream from Cincinnati, Ohio rests a 114 year old ship known as the Celt. It simply fascinates me the history that this one ship has and upon first glance of this rusted hulk you would never imagine so. Originally setting sail back in 1902 as a luxury yacht of a wealthy railroad executive, Celt was 180 feet long and powered by steam. The ship changed hands in 1917 when the US Navy started renting small, quick vessels to outmaneuver German U-boats during World War I. It was during this time that it was renamed the USS Sachem (SP-192) and was used as a coastal patrol boat after being outfitted with depth charges and machine guns. One of the most notable things about it’s life during WWI is that it was loaned to Thomas Edison while he conducted US Government funded experiments onboard in New York as head of the Naval Consulting Board.

After the end of WWI the Sachem changed owners a couple of times before landing back in the hands of the Navy for $65,000 in 1942. The Navy then changed the name to USS Phenakite (PYc-25) and used the vessel to patrol the waters off of the Florida Keys. Phenakite was used for a brief time after WWII to train soldiers to test sonar equipment before being decommissioned and returned to the previous owner in 1945. Subsequently it was sold to Circle Line of NYC and renamed Sightseer but was soon renamed Circle Line V and served as a tour boat until 1983. In 1986 a Cincinnati local named Robert Miller bought the ship for a mere $7,500 and before leaving the New York Harbor it had a cameo in Madonna’s music video for ‘Papa Don’t Preach’. After traveling up the Hudson, through the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi and into the Ohio River, the ship settled in a small creek next to Miller’s property in Northern Kentucky where it has rested since.

It really is a surreal thing to come across when walking down a short path in the woods. The first time I went to see it was in June of 2016 and I try to visit each time I'm in the Cincinnati area for whatever reason. The photos below were taken on various visits between June 2016 and January 2018.