The Hesper was a wooden-hulled, single propeller, triple-masted, freight-carrying steamship which towed schooner-barges. The steamer was one of several near-identical ships built for the large Bradley Transportation Company fleet of Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1890s. It was launched at the Ship Owners Dry Dock Company at the Radcliffe Yard in Cleveland on June 28, 1890. It was a double-decked bulk freighter measuring 250 feet in length and rated for about 2,700 tons capacity. The Hesper was issued its first certificate of enrollment at the Cuyahoga District Customs Office in Cleveland on June 30, 1890 by George A. McKay, deputy collector. That document listed the ship as a “propeller” with plain head and round stern. Enrollment certificates state that the vessel was 250.3 feet long, with a breadth of 41.6 feet and a depth of 20.2 feet. It measured 1,539.98 (net) tons. The Hesper's enrollment document of 1899 indicates that it was changed stating that it now had one deck, only two masts and measures 1570 tons, its 1893 enrollment (#81) being "surrendered by reason of change of description and tonnage." The enrollment also states it had "cabins forward Texas house and ships cabins aft" and that it has a dining room, kitchen and hallways.
At the time of Hesper's construction, the vessel's owners were undecided as to whether it should be called the “Hesper” or “Hesperus” (the latter having bad connotations relative to Longfellow's poem The Wreck of the Hesperus). When it was found that the name Hesper had been cut on its capstan, they kept the name. However, there is no difference in the meaning of the two words. Hesper is the evening star and in Greek mythology was a brother of Atlas, the father of the seven sisters known as the Hesperides, "who guarded the golden apples that Hercules obtained after a long fight." The Hesper had a reasonably uneventful career and was operated by the Bradley Fleet until it was lost in 1905. The vessel was always well cared-for and was considered an efficient ship.
The Hesper was lost when it was caught in a late spring snow storm in 1905. The 60-mile-an-hour northeaster drove it well off its intended course and hurled the vessel on a reef which now marks the southwest edge of Silver Bay Harbor. The Hesper was lifted over the reef by a giant wave, after enduring a pounding for some time, only to flounder and break up in 42 feet of water. The 15-man crew, along with Captain E.H. Heaton, remained aboard as long as there was any hope of saving their vessel. They launched two lifeboats and pulled away moments before it broke up.