St. Louis was built for the American Line by W. Cramp & Sons of
Philadelphia. Launched in 1894, she made her maiden voyage from New
York to Southampton on 5 June 1895. Although expected to be faster than
their American Line consorts Paris and New York, St Louis and her sister
St. Paul turned out to be significantly slower, and were taken out of
service for modifications after only a few months of service. When they
returned to service, they were considerably faster; St. Louis making a
westbound crossing at 20.35 knots in August 1896.
Chartered as an armed cruiser during the Spanish-American War in 1898,
St. Louis returned to Southampton-New York service after the war,
remaining on that route until 1914. In the interim, she was given new
boilers and taller funnels in 1903, and was converted to carry second
and third class passengers only in 1913.
From July 1914 until April 1918, St. Louis sailed between Liverpool and
New York. When the United States entered World War I, she initially
remained in commercial service, but in April 1918, she was commissioned
as a troop transport, under the name Louisville.
On 9 January 1920, while being reconditioned at New York for resumption
of commercial service, St. Louis was badly damaged by fire. She never
sailed again and in 1924 was towed to Genoa for scrapping.
Sources: Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Kludas' Great Passenger Ships
of the World.