Indian Canoes -- Many Interesting Descriptions By Early Voyageurs And Others -- The Bateau -- Early Sail Vessels -- Early Steamboats -- The Ontario And Frontenac Built On Lake Ontario In 1816 -- The Famous Walk-in-the-water Of 1818 -- Advent Of The Propeller -- The Vandalia And Other Propellers -- The Modern Side-wheel Steamer -- Iron And Steel Vessels -- Development Of The Barge -- The Whalebacks -- Other New Types Of Vessels -- Car Ferries -- Early Ferry Boats -- A Horse Ferry Boat -- The Old Ferry Boat At Black Rock -- Ferries At Detroit -- Evolution Of The Lake Carrier -- Canada's Merchant Marine -- Ship Building -- Early Ship Building Of Chicago -- The Iron Ship Building Industry -- Short History Of Lake Dry Docks -- Growth Of Tonnage.
With clashing wheel and lifting keel,
- the forest's life was in it,
In beautiful imagery Longfellow describes the birch canoe of Hiawatha. The Indian bark canoe is the earliest known form of lake vessel, and many of the pioneer navigators have written of its marvelous lightness and other qualities.
One writer, describing the bark canoes of the Iroquois Indians, says they were from twelve feet in length, with sufficient capacity to carry two men, to forty feet, with capacity for 30 men. Another writer speaks of a canoe capable of carrying 50 men. The standard was about two tons. Birch bark was preferred because it was not liable to warp, but some tribes were obliged to use elm and other barks.
Father Charlevoix, who traveled extensively over the lakes and their approaches, gives the following description of the birch canoe, which he says was then used by the French missionaries and by all the Indians he visited except the Iroquois:
"They lay the bark, which is very thick, on flat and very thin ribs made of cedar; these ribs are confined their whole length by small cross bars, which separate the seats of the canoe; two main pieces of the same wood, to which these little bars are sewed, strengthen the whole machine. Between the ribs and the bark they thrust little pieces of cedar, which are thinner still than the ribs, and which help to strengthen the canoe, the two ends of which rise by degrees and insensibly end in sharp points that turn inwards. These two ends are exactly alike; so that to change their course and turn back the canoe men need only change their heads. He who is behind steers with his oar, working continually; and the greatest occupation of him who is forward is to take care that the canoe touches nothing to burst it. They sit or kneel on the bottom, and their oars are paddles of five or six feet long, commonly of maple; but when they go against a current that is pretty strong, they must use a pole and stand upright. One must have a good deal of practice to preserve a balance in this exercise, for nothing is lighter, and of consequence easier to overset, than these canoes, the greatest of which, with their loading, does not draw more than a half a foot of water. The bark of which these canoes are made, as well as the ribs and the bars, are sewed with the roots of fir, which are more pliable and dry much less than the ozier. All the seams are gummed (or pitched) within and without, but they must be viewed every day to see that the gum is not peeled off. The largest canoes carry twelve men, two upon a seat, and 4,000 pounds weight. Of all the savages the most skillful of canoes are the Outaouais (Ottawas), and in general the Algonquin nations succeed herein better than the Hurons. Few French as yet can make them even tolerably; but to guide them, they are at least as safe as the savages of the country; and they practice this exercise from their childhood. All the canoes, even the smallest, carry a sail, and with a good wind can make twenty leagues a day. Without sails they must be good canoe men to make twelve leagues in a dead water." Father Charlevoix does not give the origin of using sail; this may have been suggested by the French.
The same trader gives in another part of his travels the following description: "The canoes, which I had provided for my undertaking, were, as is usual, five fathom and a half in length, and four feet and a half in their extreme breadth, and formed of birch-tree bark, a quarter of an inch in thickness. The bark is lined with small splints of cedar-wood; and the vessel is further strengthened with ribs of the same wood, of which the two ends are fastened to the gunwales; several bars, rather than seats, are also laid across the canoe, from gunwale to gunwale. The small roots of the spruce tree afford wat-tap, with which the bark is sewed; and the gum of the pine-tree supplies the place of tar and oakum. Bark, some spare wat-tap and gum, are always carried in each canoe, for the repairs, which frequently become necessary.
"The canoes are worked, not with oars, but with paddles; and, occasionally with a sail. To each canoe there are eight men; and to every three or four canoes, which constitute a brigade, there is a guide or conductor. Skillful men, at double the wages of the rest, are placed in the head and stern. They engage to go from Montreal to Michilimackinac, and back to Montreal again: the middle men at one hundred and fifty livres, and the end men at three hundred livres, each. The guide has the command of his brigade, and is answerable for all pillage and loss; and, in return, every man's wages is answerable to him. This regulation was established under the French Government.
"The freight of a canoe, of the substance and dimensions of which I have detailed, consists in 60 pieces, or packages, of merchandise, of the weight of from 90 to 100 pounds each; and provisions to the amount of 1,000 weight. To this is to be added, the weight of eight men, and of eight bags, weighing forty pounds each, one of which every man is privileged to put on board. The whole weight must therefore exceed 8,000 pounds; or may perhaps be averaged at four tons."
In his work, "The Red and the White Man," George E. Ellis says: "The Indian canoe seems to need an Indian for its most facile use and its safest guidance. The best position for the occupant was to be flat on his back, if he trusted to floating, or to rest still on bended knees, if he plied the single paddle with strokes on either side. All uneasy, restless motions, all jerks and sidelings, were at the risk of passenger, canoe and freight. Count Frontenac, when first, as Governor of Canada, for Louis XIV, he began his experience as a voyageur, with the natives, expressed in strong terms his disgust at the cramped and listless position to which he was confined in the birch canoe; and the Jesuit missionaries, the most patient and heroic of all Europeans, as they met every cross and hardship, were very slowly wonted to it. They gave us many piteous narrative touches of the constant risks and the need of steady eye and of a stiff uniformity of position in the buoyant but ticklish vehicle of transport. When needed, they had in it their own precious sacramental vessels, requiring an ever nervous watchfulness against disaster. Till the passengers had learned to adapt themselves to the exacting conditions, their timidity and anxiety furnished a constant source of ridicule and banter to their native pilots. The merriment was loud and unsympathizing, when the passenger tipped himself into the waters, still or foaming, unless at the time he swamped the canoe with a valuable cargo."
Gourley, in writing upon inland navigation, says: "From Lachine the canoes employed by the Northwest Company in the fur trade take their departure. Of all the numerous contributions for transporting heavy burdens by water these vessels are perhaps the most extraordinary; scarcely anything can be conceived so inadequate from the slightness of their construction to the purpose they are applied to, and to contend against the impetuous torrent of the many rapids that must be passed through in the course of a voyage. They seldom exceed thirty feet in length and six in breadth, diminishing to a sharp point at each end, without distinction of head or stern; the frame is composed of some small pieces of very light wood; it is then covered with the bark of the birch tree, cut into convenient slips, that are rarely more than an eighth of an inch in thickness; these are sewn together with threads made from the twisted fibers of the roots of a particular tree, and strengthened where necessary by narrow strips of the same material applied on the inside; the joints on the fragile planking are made watertight by being covered with a species of gum that adheres firmly and becomes perfectly hard. No iron work of any kind, not even nails are employed in building these slender vessels, which, when completed, weigh only about 500 weight each. On being prepared for the voyage they receive their lading, which, for convenience of carrying across the portages, is made up in packages of about three-fourths of a hundred weight each, and amounts altogether to five tons or a little more, including provisions and other necessaries for the men, of whom about eight or ten are employed on each canoe; they usually set out in brigades, like the bateaux, and in the course of a summer upward of fifty of these vessels are thus dispatched."
In "Schoolcraft's Travels" occurs the following picturesque description: "We were struck with the difference, both as to the form and materials of construction, between the canoe by which the savages formerly navigated the Hudson, Connecticut and Delaware, and that which is at present employed by the northern tribes. The former, as still remaining among us, is merely a log which has been scooped out and is in every respect analogous, according to Mr. Pennant, to the monoxyla of the ancient Germans and Gauls, and to the pine canoe of the savages of Nootka Sound, except that the latter is supposed to exceed the ancient European canoe in the elegance of its form. The old Europeans, says Mr. Pennant, were content if they could but float. The northwest canoe is, on the contrary, constructed wholly of bark, cedar splints, the roots of the spruce, and the pitch of the yellow pine, productions which are common, from the frozen ocean, situated within the arctic circle, to the parallel of the forty-second degree of north latitude; and these articles are fabricated in a manner uniting such an astonishing degree of lightness, strength, and elegance and with such a perfect adaptation to the country, and the difficulties of northern voyages, as to create a sentiment of mixed surprise and admiration.
"Those of the largest size, such as are commonly employed in the fur trade of the north, are thirty-five feet in length and six feet in width at the widest part, tapering gradually toward the bow and stern, which are brought to a wedge-like point and turned over from the extremities, toward the center, so as to resemble in some degree the head of a violin. They are constructed of the bark of the white birch tree, (betula papyracca), which is peeled from the tree in large sheets and bent over a slender frame of cedar ribs confined by gunwales, which are kept apart by slender bars of the same wood. Around these the bark is sewed by the slender and flexible roots of the young spruce tree, called 'wattap,' and also where the pieces of bark join, so that the gunwales resemble the rim of an Indian basket. The joinings are afterward luted and rendered water-tight by a coat of pine pitch, which, after it has been thickened by boiling, is used under the name of 'gum.' In the third cross-bar from the bow an aperture is cut for a mast so that a sail can be employed when the wind proves favorable. Seats for those who paddle are made by suspending a strip of board with cords from the gunwales in such a manner that they do not press against the sides of the canoe.
"The fur companies have lately introduced the use of oars in propelling the canoe, but the natives employ the cedar paddle, with a light and slender blade. In either case, they are steered with a larger paddle, having a long handle and a broad blade. A canoe of this size, when employed in the fur trade, is calculated to carry sixty packages of skins, weighing ninety pounds each, and provisions to the amount of one thousand pounds. This is exclusive of the weight of eight men, each of whom is allowed to put on board a bag or knapsack, of the weight of forty pounds. In addition to this every canoe has a quantity of bark, wattap, gum, a pan for heating the gum, an axe, and some smaller articles necessary for repairs.
"The aggregate weight of all this may be estimated at about four tons. Such a canoe, thus loaded, is paddled by eight men, at the rate of four miles per hour, in a perfect calm -- is carried across portages by four men -- is easily repaired at any time and at any place, and is altogether one of the most eligible modes of conveyance that can be employed upon the lakes, while in the interior of the Northwest, for river navigation, where there are many rapids and portages, nothing that has been contrived to float upon water, offers an adequate substitute. Every night the canoe is unloaded, and with the baggage carried ashore, and if, during the day, a storm should arise, such is the activity of the Canadian voyageurs, that ten minutes time is sufficient to effect a landing and secure both vessel and cargo.
"Recommended by these advantages, we felt an avidity to test them by experience; and after a long voyage in which we have had occasion to complain of the confined posture of sitting, and of the frequency of injuring the canoes by striking against hidden rocks and logs of wood, we have nevertheless returned with an unaltered opinion of their superior utility and adaptation for northern voyages. Such is the vessel in which Europeans, adopting the customs of the savages, first entered the great chain of American lakes, and in which they have successfully discovered the Mississippi, the Columbia, and the Arctic sea; and the coincidence is deserving of remark that it has been employed by every traveler of the region from the time of Father Marquette, the Jesuit, to the discoveries of Sir Alexander McKenzie. The order of traveling in this region is as follows: Father Marquette, LaSalle, Hennepin, LaHontau, Charlevoix, Henry, Carver, McKenzie."
The Bateau. -- Soon after the advent of the French missionaries in the lake region the skiff or bateau began to displace the Indian canoe. The bateau was a light boat, long in proportion to its breadth and wider in the middle than at the ends. When military expeditions were to be sent up the lakes bateaux were usually constructed for that purpose, if the services of white mechanics, or boat builders, could be procured. If recourse upon the Indians was the only resource, canoes were employed. The Indian preferred his canoe, but the white man had a predilection for his own build of water craft.
A traveler who made a trip up the St. Lawrence and lakes during the closing years of the eighteenth century says: "Three men are found sufficient to conduct an empty bateau of about two tons burden up the St. Lawrence, but if the bateau be laden, more are generally allowed. They ascent the stream by means of poles, oars and sails. When the current is very strong they make use of the former, keeping as close as possible to the shore, in order to avoid the current, and to have the advantage of shallow water to pole in. The men set their poles all together at the same moment, and all work at the same side of the bateau. The steersman, however, sheers his pole from side to side, in order to keep his vessel in an even direction. The poles commonly used are about eight feet in length, extremely light, and headed with iron. On coming to a deep bay or inlet, the men abandon the poles, take up their oars, and strike, if possible, directly across the mouth of the bay, but in many places the current proves so strong that it is absolutely impossible to stem it by means of oars, and they are obliged to pole entirely round the bays. Whenever the wind is favorable they set their sail, but it is only at the upper end of the river, or on the lakes, or broad parts of it, where the current is not swift, that the current by itself is sufficient to impel them forward. The exertion it requires to counteract the force of the stream by means of poles and oars is so great that the men are required to stop very frequently to take breath. The places at which they stop are regularly ascertained. Some of them, where the current is very rapid, are not more than half a mile distant, one from the other; others one or two, but none of them more than four miles apart."
Another writer says: "The bateaux were a different kind of boat, and were, like the birch-bark canoes, largely used on the lakes, before the 'canoes with wings' made their appearance after the advent of the white man. They were used for the same purpose as the canoes, that is, the transportation of goods and passengers. Some of them would accommodate five or six families, and would carry a large amount of baggage. They were divided into brigades of twelve boats, each bateaux having a guide or conductor with five or six men under him and serving the same purpose as a captain of the present day. After the bateaux came the Schenectady and Durham boats. These boats were in use for many years, and in the war between the French and English, which resulted, in 1759, in the conquest of Canada by the English, many of them were in use, on Lake Ontario especially."
A variation of the bateau, used later in the fur trade, is alluded to by a Chicago writer as follows: "The next navigating craft which should be dignified by the name of the 'Marine of the Lakes,' were suggested by the requirements of the fur trade, which called for a heavier vessel than the light bark canoe of the early explorers and missionaries. The Mackinaw barge, therefore, appeared upon the lakes and with it the voyageurs. These barges and sailors were known at Chicago for many years; but about the year 1830 both boats and voyageurs ceased to visit the settlement, as the sloops and schooners then introduced monopolized the lake trade."
Early Sail Vessels. -- J. Collins, deputy surveyor-general of Canada in 1788, in an official report, expressed the opinion that for Lake Ontario vessels should be of 80 to 100 tons burden, and for Lake Erie about 15 tons, if intended to communicate between lakes; "but they should be built on proper principles for burden as well as sailing."
The first sailing vessel built upon Lake Ontario was a small schooner of about 10 tons burden, the Frontenac, constructed at the "Cabins," where Kingston is now. Upon this vessel, on November 18. 1678, La Salle sailed from Cataraqui, his destination being the mouth of the river Niagara, as elsewhere related.
The brig Union, 93 tons, the first merchant brig built on the lakes, was owned by Jonathan Sidway and Elihu Pease. She was built at Huron, in 1814, and was afterward laid up for the reason that she was too large for doing business.
In the summer of 1793 there appeared on Lake Ontario, for the first time, the premier merchantman, built in Canada. She was named the York, and had been constructed on the river Niagara in the previous year, 1792.
Regarding the carrying capacity of sail vessels in 1839, the following shipments were made at Michigan City in the course of one week: Schooner Huron, Capt. John Kline, 4,746 bushels of wheat; schooner Marengo, Capt. W. W. Allen, 2,100 bushels of corn; brig Neptune, Capt. John Sims, 250 barrels of flour and 700 bushels of oats; brig Queen Charlotte, Capt. C. Whitmore, 1,420 bushels wheat; schooner Detroit, Capt. R. Cochran, 3,386 bushels wheat; schooner Western Trader, Capt. H. McHarry, 750 bushels oats and 175 barrels pork; schooner Savannah, Capt. Owens, 3,400 bushels corn; brig John Kenzie, Capt. John Thompson, 3,800 bushels corn, 2,000 barrels bacon and 100 barrels pork; schooner Missouri, Capt. Dunham, 3,600 bushels wheat.
The United States revenue cutter Alexander J. Dallas, built at Erie in 1816, and commanded by Captain Keith, has been thus described by Francis A. Dewey, of Cambridge, Mich. She was "a trim built vessel with black hull, painted ports, long raking masts and black yards. Her cabin was ornamented and decorated on all sides with cutlasses and swords, and around her masts were boarding pikes. On her main deck was the monitor gun, on the quarter deck was the swivel gun. The complement of men in uniform was 16."
Sail vessels declined steadily in importance as steam navigation improved. They are now small in tonnage as compared with propellers, and those in service are used mainly as tows. Many of the types of sail vessels prevalent prior to 1860 have long since disappeared.
Full-rigged brigs became extinct in 1869 with the loss of the Robert Burns, in the straits, together with ten souls, a sad ending to this style of rig. Those in service were called brigantines, and in many instances were base counterfeits.
A veteran among lake captains contributed, last year, an article to the Detroit Free Press about some of these ships, of which he had personal knowledge. "One of the best of them all," he says, "was the bark North West, of which Capt. George McLeod, now so prominent in marine insurance circles, was master. From her he went into the South West, also a fast one, Arthur Atkins taking the other. Then there was the Champion, Capt. Calvin Carr. These three led all the fleets in the seventies. I had more faith in the sailing ability of McLeod than the others gave me. He was always on deck, quick, alert, with his sail all up and drawing whenever there was a chance for it, and quite popular. So keen was the rivalry between these three vessels that their masters, if they were together, did not hesitate to take the first tug when approaching the mouth of the Detroit river or the entrance to the St. Clair, and tow behind alone through to destination. Of course it cost the owner considerable in tow-bill, for the tug captain would demand extra compensation for being obliged to let all other vessels go by to other tugs. The North West passed out long ago; the South West, owned by Bradley, of Cleveland, and the Champion, owned by Crosthwaite, of Buffalo, are still afloat. Other rapid ones, that could at least make it interesting for the foregoing, were the Golden Fleece, Capt. Jesse Hurlbut; Clara Parker, Capt. C. W. Elphicke; Lotus, Capt. Al. Fitch; Chicago Board of Trade, Capt. R. H. White; Newsboy, Capt. Orr; J. Wells, Capt. John Bowman; J. G. Hasten, Capt. Bob Todd. All of these were good vessels, and the men in them could not be surpassed in their time so far as daring and skill and knowledge of the lakes were concerned. The Golden Fleece is rotting away on the shores of Lake Erie, near Dunkirk. She is the property of Jim Reid, the wrecker, but he finds that the cost of releasing her is more than she is worth; so she is doomed. The Clara Parker went ashore near Grand Haven during a terrific gale in November, 1883. Her crew were all rescued in the breeches-buoy. The Lotus is now a lumber hooker on Lake Michigan. The Chicago Board of Trade is owned by Inman, of Duluth, or Hawgood & Avery, but not much has been heard of her lately. Captain Elphicke we have all heard of through an extensive marine insurance and vessel brokerage business which he conducts in Chicago. Captain White lives in Detroit, retired after many more years in command of various steam vessels.
"A little later on the Bertha Barnes, Porter and Scotia became noted for their speed. The latter was in her time one of the largest schooners on the lakes. She was commanded by Capt. J. J. H. Brown, last year president of the Lake Carriers' Association, and one of the best known vessel agents on the lakes. She was a beauty, and Brown was the right kind of a man to sail her. Of course, my tale would be incomplete without some mention of the Wells Burt, which went down near Chicago with all hands in the spring of 1883; the F. W. Gifford, still sailing and owned by Captain Elphicke; the M. S. Bacon, Annie M. Peterson, J. I. Case, F. A. Georger, Nellie Redington, M. W. Page, Lizzie A. Law, Moonlight and Alice B. Norris. All of these are still afloat, but with topmasts off and towing wearily behind some steamer. In the sixties the City of Buffalo, City of Milwaukee and City of Chicago were trim and fast vessels of the same model. As I have said, I have my choice as to the fastest vessel in the seventies, but some will be inclined to dispute me. Many consider the Unadilla, long owned in Detroit, as about the best. She was certainly a handsomely-modeled, fast boat, and many a time has she paid for herself. She is still in commission after some thirty-five years of age. Other smart ones in her time were the P. C. Sherman, Sam Flint and Invincible. The Flint is afloat, but the others have passed out. All these were square-rigged and carried royals. I remember once when the Lotus came out with a varnished bottom, the captain having the idea that it would not only preserve the wood, but make her more slippery. Soon the bolt-heads began to drip rust, and then she was painted black. The James Couch, now the Tasmania, had trim-boards on the sides. The Ogarita was flat-bottomed, beamier than anything then afloat, and the largest carrier on the lakes for her inches. The big Michigan, now owned by the Owen estate, of Detroit, was the first double-decked schooner on the lakes. She was sailed for many years by Capt. Fred Hart, now the manager of the fleet."
"The branches of the river contain many vessels which will never know another fitting-out time," said a Chicago writer in 1897. "Sailors will point to them as the crack boats of their time. When they came out they were the pride and wonder of marine men. Their races to the straits with cargoes of grain were more exciting than any yachting regatta. When the wind went to the southward they started out fifty strong and headed proudly straight for South Manitou island. Their sails were new and white, their masts were scraped, their decks were scoured, and as they drove past Grosse Point they made a beautiful marine picture. The first man to reach the ice was as proud of his ship as of himself. Those were the days when a captain was a captain, for he generally owned his own boat and sailed it as he willed."
Canal schooners, so-called because they were built of light draft to permit passage through the Welland canal, have been rapidly passing away during the past several years, and the extinction of this type of vessel will decrease the relative importance of Lake Ontario navigation until a larger passage way is provided. Many went down during the fall gales because they were overloaded. They were built for 14 feet draft, and at that depth were safe, but when channels were deepened and freights were high the mortality among the canal schooners became almost an epidemic.
In a recent article published in the "Nautical Magazine," London, a writer describes the transition from sail to steam, especially as applied to navigation through the Welland canal. He says: "The type of vessels originally used for freighting throughout this lake system was a three-masted schooner carrying fore-and-aft sails -- rarely a foretop sail and topgallant sail-limited in draft to the depth in the old canals, 9 feet, but borrowing improved beating power by the use of a centerboard. Next, propellers were introduced, of a hideously ugly type, literally built to fit the canal locks, and having their draught limited first to 9 and after the enlargement of the Welland canal to 14 feet, and their length to 270 feet, or 200 feet for the River St. Lawrence canals. Keenness of competition soon taught the lesson that the larger vessel was the cheaper carrier; and from that conclusion an abandonment of the Welland canal route, and the selection of ports on Lake Erie which would permit the use of vessels larger than the docks would accommodate as eastern termini of the great lake freight traffic, was a logical step. Gradually the type has changed, the wants of shipping have forced the government to spend more and more on the improvement of connecting channels and harbors, and to-day it is literally true that with every inch of additional draft gained, so larger steamers and barges are built to take advantage of the improvement. Owners and agents are kept thoroughly posted on every little fluctuation in level, and load down to the last inch that can be wriggled over the shoalest spots to be navigated, while they are ever demanding still deeper channels that they may build still bigger boats."
Early Steamboats. -- Prior to 1816 steamboats had not been introduced on the Great Lakes, although it is on record that a steamer called the Dalhousie was built in 1809 at Prescott, Ontario, and was chiefly employed on the St. Lawrence river. It is also a matter of record that during the same year the steamer Accommodation passed down the St. Lawrence, arriving at Quebec from Montreal about November 5. The Quebec Mercury of November 5, 1809, said: "On Saturday morning at 8 o'clock arrived here from Montreal, being her first trip, the steamboat Accommodation with ten passengers. This is the first vessel of the kind that ever appeared in this harbor. She is continually crowded with visitants. She left Montreal on Wednesday at 2 o'clock, so that her passage was 66 hours. She has at present berths for twenty passengers, which, next year, will be considerably augmented. No wind or tide can stop her. She has 75 feet keel and is 85 feet on deck. The price for a passage up is $9 and $8 down, the vessel supplying provisions. The great advantage attending a vessel so constructed is that a passage may be calculated on to a degree of certainty in point of time, which cannot be the case in any vessel propelled by sails only. The steamboat receives her impulse from an open double-spoked perpendicular wheel on each side, without any circular band or rim. To the end of each double spoke is fixed a square board, which enters the water and by the rotary motion of the wheel acts like a paddle. The wheels are put and kept by steam operating within the vessel. A mast is to be fixed in her for the purpose of using a sail when the wind is favorable, which will occasionally accelerate her headway." The construction of the steamers Ontario and Frontenac on Lake Ontario in 1816, and of the Walk-in-the-Water on Lake Erie is described elsewhere in this volume.
With reference to steamboat history no allusion has been made to those built at Montreal aside from the Accommodation. It is not out of place to make mention of others built there, as follows: 1812, steamer Swiftsure; 1814, steamer Malsham; 1816, steamer Car of Commerce; 1817, steamer Lady Sherbrooke; 1817, steamer Caledonia; 1817, steamer Telegraph; 1818, steamer New Swiftsure; 1818, steamer Quebec 1st.
On Lake Ontario following the steamboat Ontario was the steamboat Sophia, of 75 tons, built at Sacket's Harbor. Her career was a brief one, and eventually she was broken up. At Kingston, in Canada, the steamer Charlotte, of 150 tons burden, was built in 1818. She was the first steamer to ply on the Bay of Quinte, going from Prescott to the head of that bay. The Dalhousie, built in 1819, was the third steamer built on the Canada side of Lake Ontario, at Kingston, by Henry Gildersleeve, ship carpenter, and plied on the same route as the steamer just noted. The Martha Ogden, the fourth steamer built on the United States side of Lake Ontario, commenced plying in 1825.
The monopoly for steam navigation on the waters of New York State, granted by repeated Acts of the Legislature, to Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston, gave rise to much litigation, and in a suit of Ogden vs. Gibbons, commenced in the Court of Chancery, September 27, 1819, and involving the rights of the steamboat Ontario, it was decided in favor of the grant. An appeal was made to the Court of Errors, and the case was finally carried to the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided in February, 1824, that the Act was "repugnant to the clause of the Constitution of the United States which authorized Congress to regulate commerce, so far as the said Acts prohibited vessels licensed according to the laws of the United States, for carrying on the coastwise trade, from navigating the said waters by means of fire or steam."
During the next decade eight steamers were built on the Great Lakes. The Superior, measuring 346 tons, came out in 1822 at Buffalo; the Martha Ogden, of 49 tons, at Sacket's Harbor, in 1823; the Pioneer, measuring 125 tons, at Buffalo, in 1825; the Niagara, measuring 157 tons, and the Henry Clay, same place, in 1826; the Enterprise, measuring 219 tons, at Cleveland, in 1826; the William Penn, measuring 215 tons, at Erie, in 1826; and one small craft of 94 tons.
The steamer Sheldon Thompson came out in 1830, and carried three masts, the first of that rig on the lakes. Then during the succeeding years came out the following steamers, many of which were historic: The William Peacock, the North America, the W. F. P. Taylor, the Charles Townsend, the Daniel Webster, the Thomas Jefferson, the General Porter, the Oliver Newberry, Washington No. 1, Washington No. 2, the Pennsylvania, the Barcelona, the United States, the Wisconsin, the Milwaukee, the Illinois No. 1; most, if not all of them, prior to 1836. Then from that time on until 1840 came out the following: The James Madison, the DeWitt Clinton, the Buffalo, the Robert Fulton, the Commodore Perry, the General Wayne, the New England, the Sandusky, the Constellation, the Rochester, the Bunker Hill, the Cleveland, the Chesapeake, the Red Jacket, the Waterloo, the Cincinnati, the Caroline, the Governor Marcy, the last two of which came up through the Erie canal; the New York, the James Monroe, the Constitution, the Columbus, the Chautauqua, the General Scott, the General Harrison, the Julia Palmer, the Great Western, the Julius D. Morton, the Arrow, the Baltimore, the Boston, the Baltic, the Albany, the Ben Franklin, the Erie, the Little Erie, the Detroit, the Fairport, the Troy, the Empire, the Empire State, the Champion, the Globe, the G. P. Griffith, the Indiana, the Keystone State, the Lexington, the Louisiana, the Michigan, the May Flower, the Missouri, the Nile, the Niagara, the New Orleans, the Ohio, the Oregon, the Saint Louis, the Star, the Swan, the Sultana, the Southerner, the Saratoga, the Superior No. 2, the Tecumseh, the Vermillion, and the Queen City.
The Nile had a low-pressure beam engine, which had been in the Milwaukee, and which was afterward in the Orion. The Julia Palmer also had a low-pressure beam engine. She was commanded by Capt. T. J. Titus in 1844 and 1845, and ran on Lake Erie in opposition to the Constitution, the James Monroe being detailed to run along side of her, which she did from port to port, carrying passengers for almost nothing.
The Michigan was built and owned by Oliver Newberry, of Detroit, who for many years was associated with and largely engaged in the commerce of the lakes. This boat made one or more annual trips for pleasure, generally making the circuit of Lake Michigan. She was a fine specimen of a steamer, far in advance of most boats of her time. Though her model was by no means comely, her speed was quite equal to others, having powerful low-pressure beam engines. Her fine finish, splendid fixtures and furniture, which were quite superior to any other in that day, together with her veteran commander, Captain Blake, rendered her a favorite with the traveling public. The Michigan was a most unique specimen of naval architecture, inasmuch as she had two engines, one on each side, and each wholly independent of the other. This arrangement worked very well in calm weather and in smooth water, but in rough weather, when the waves rolled high, one of the wheels would be deep in the water while the other would be partly or wholly out of it, and while the one in the water would be laboring with great difficulty the one out of the water would fly around like lightning. This had the bad effect of jerking the boat about from side to side, making her navigation both difficult and unpleasant. The two independent engines were in all probability only an experiment, and so far as known this experiment has not since been imitated.
The steamer Cleveland came out in 1837, she was built at Huron, and sailed by Capt. Asa E. Hart, and was low pressure. She first carried her boilers on her guards which caused her to be over crank, and they were subsequently placed below decks. She first carried two smoke stacks, wide apart, but on the removal of her boilers only one was used. It was on board the Cleveland that the first steam whistle was placed in use on the lakes.
Prior to the advent of the steam whistle, bells were in universal use on steamboats, and they were generally placed so as to surmount the projection of the engine above decks. In the spring of 1844 the steamboat Rochester came out with a general overhaul, the addition of an upper cabin being a prominent feature. William McGee, a practical machinist, was chief engineer, and he during the preceding winter had constructed a steam whistle from plans illustrated in the "Scientific American." This whistle he attached to the boiler of the Rochester, merely as an experiment and for the novelty of the thing.
The Rochester left Buffalo for Chicago early in May, and when on Lake Huron, nigh unto Bobolo light, she overhauled the propeller General Porter, Capt. Charles L. Gager, between whom and engineer McGee there had long existed a bitter enmity. The Rochester approached directly in the wake of the propeller, and when close up to her McGee gave his whistle vehement voice, ostensibly to "shoo-fly" the General Porter and her master. The defiant whistle continued to blow while the Rochester forged ahead of the slow-going propeller, and soon after the steamboat landed at Mackinac, where also in due time came the General Porter. Captain Gager, unaware of the fact that McGee was the culprit, hastened to the landing place of the Rochester, and in a loud voice demanded the presence of the man that had so insultingly "squawked" at him; whereupon McGee shouted: "Here he is," and landed on the dock at a bound. Then nothing but the determined intervention of mutual friends prevented a serious encounter between the two stalwart men, each of whom was brave and weighed nearly 200 pounds.
McGee's steam whistle was one of the first on a lake steamboat, and proving itself of great utility, the steam whistle soon thereafter relegated the alarm bell to the rear, not only from steamboats but from factories on shore as well.
The James Madison, owned by Charles M. Reed, of Erie, was built with particular reference to the upper lake trade. Her capacity for freight and passengers was the largest upon the lakes at that time. She was also a popular boat, and was a source of large profit to her owner. She was first under the command of Capt. R. C. Bristol, and for many years afterward was commanded by Captain McFadden.
In 1837 the steamer Illinois was built by Oliver Newberry. She was also designed for the Chicago trade. In this boat were combined many qualities, both in her size, symmetry, beauty of model, style of finish, speed, and seaworthiness, which placed her in the foremost rank of steamboats, and enabled her to receive a most liberal patronage for many years. She was brought out under the command of Captain Blake.
From year to year the immigration to Illinois and Wisconsin continued to increase until a daily line of boats was established between Buffalo and Chicago; while at the same time the public demands were such as to require a still further advance and a different class and style of boat -- one with better accommodations and increased facilities, suited to the condition and circumstances of a large class of the more refined and wealthy, who were then emigrating and settling in Illinois and the adjoining States. Hence the necessity for introducing the upper cabin boat.
When the Great Western first made her appearance upon the lakes, and during the two years in which she was being built, many who claimed to be judges expressed doubts of the practicability and seaworthiness of that class of boats. But in a few trips she became a favorite with the public, and notwithstanding the opinions and prejudices of the few, was the means of bringing about an entire revolution in the construction of our steam marine upon the lakes, causing all the boats in commission and contemporary with her to convert their lower cabins into steerages and freight holds, and substitute the upper cabin. Probably no three boats contributed so largely to the settlement of Illinois and Wisconsin as the steamers James Madison, Illinois and Great Western.
The steamer Great Western was commissioned in 1839, and owned and commanded by Capt. Augustus Walker. Her dimensions were: Length, 183 feet; breadth of beam, 34 feet 4 inches; across the guard, 60 feet; depth of hold, 13 feet; custom house tonnage, 781 tons, being greater than any craft that floated on fresh water up to that period. She was propelled by a high-pressure engine, made at Pittsburg and said to be the largest engine of that description ever made in the United States. The cylinder was 30 inches in diameter, stroke, 10 feet, and rated at 300 horse power. Her paddle wheels had a radius of 13 ½ feet and 12 feet in breadth. The entire hull was occupied by the boilers, with holds for freight and wood. On the main deck aft was the ladies' cabin and staterooms, while on the hurricane deck the main cabins extended almost the whole length of the boat. On this deck there was also a ladies' saloon aft, the dining cabin next and the saloon or bar-room forward. State rooms, sixty in number, were arranged on either side of these cabins, the whole length, with three berths in each, making in all about 300 berths.
The upper cabin of the Great Western was the first on the lakes. Other steamers then came out in rapid succession with upper cabins, when it was found that an upper cabin caused a steamer to run more steadily in a storm. Those that came out so equipped were as follows: the Niagara, the Empire, the Empire State, the Saint Louis, the Louisiana, the Indiana, the Western World, the Plymouth Rock, the City of Buffalo, the Chesapeake, the DeWitt Clinton, the General Wayne, the Bunker Hill, the Illinois, the Wisconsin, the James Madison, the Cleveland, the Constellation, the Robert Fulton, the General Harrison, the Commodore Perry, the Missouri, the Columbus, and the United States, together with a few others, the Rochester being the last of the old-style boats to adopt the improvement. Afterward the following new boats came out with upper cabins: the Nile, the Empire, the Sultana, the Indiana and the Superior No. 2.
The Saint Louis was built in 1842 in Buffalo for Mr. Hollister, and was commanded by Capt. George W. Floyd. She had a low pressure, upright, square frame engine, which had been in the Sandusky, and she was subsequently commanded by Capt. Fred Wheeler. This style of engine was then much used on the lakes and on the Hudson river; but before 1870 it had gone entirely out of use. The following steamers had this style of engine: the Thomas Jefferson, the Sandusky, the Buffalo, the Constellation, the Keystone State, the New England, the Illinois, the Sultana, the Wisconsin, the Saint Louis, the Rochester, the General Wayne, the Queen City, and others.
Until the Chesapeake came out in 1840 all lake steamers had two smokestacks, she being the first single pipe boat on the lakes. When the Missouri appeared she brought out another innovation, having her boilers on the deck, after the style of the boats on the Hudson river, her smoke stacks being set wide apart. She belonged to General Reed, of Erie, and together with the Jefferson, Madison and Buffalo, constituted the famous Reed line. The Niagara, Louisiana, Queen City and Keystone State were later additions to this line.
Early in the winter of 1844 G. W. Jones, shipbuilder at Cleveland, laid the keel of a mammoth steamer, to be constructed for D. N. Barney & Co., of that port, of the following dimensions: Length of keel, 254 feet; on deck, 265 feet; and of 1,200 tons burden. Her dining cabin on the upper deck was 230 feet long, with staterooms on either side, and a ladies' saloon at the end of the dining cabin. Her engine was 500 horse power, wheels 30 feet in diameter, with buckets of 12 feet. The steamer was launched in the fall, and christened the Empire. She came out the following season, commanded by O. Howe, formerly master of the Chesapeake.
"In the early days of steamboat building," said J. F. Holloway, in "The Engineering Magazine," "there was much experimenting as to what was the best kind of machinery to be employed; indeed, so distinctly different were the types of engines used that persons familiar with the different steamers could readily distinguish them, when, to an unpracticed eye, they were but dots upon the horizon, and so varied was the drumming of their revolving wheels, and the extent and sharpness of their escaping exhaust steam, that in the darkness of the night, or when hidden under a heavy fog, they could be named. Some of the boats were propelled through the medium of a walking beam, which projected above the cabin, and to which there was attached sometimes the figure of a galloping steed, whose alternate rising and plunging forward was perhaps intended to indicate not only the taste of the owner or builder and the speed of the boat, but to some extent the horse-power of the mechanism to which it was attached. Other boats had what were known as 'square engines,' which also projected in part above the cabin, but which had, in place of the tumbling beam, a vertically-moving cross-head, with swinging connecting-rods on each side, attached to the cranks on the paddle-wheel shaft, and which, when in motion, were not unlike a pair of crutches under a lame man, and seemingly for the same purpose of getting ahead. Others were driven by what are known as horizontal engines, which, while they took up considerable space on the main deck, left the cabin above them a long and uninterrupted saloon which, while adding to the comfort of passengers, gave greater opportunity to the decorative artists to show their ingenuity and skill. Many an old-time traveler can doubtless recall the bits of scenic painting displayed on the panels of the long row of stateroom doors, on either side of the cabin, the subjects of which ranged from the ducal palace of a prince on the banks of the Rhine to the rustic ruin of a hunter's camp in the wild West."
The capital invested in steamboats at Buffalo in 1836 was $1,000,000. The expense of running these boats at that period, performing regular trips through the lakes, including wages of men, wood, provisions and ordinary contingencies, was from $100 to $150 per day each.
The amount of wood consumed by a steamboat during a trip through the lakes and back was from 100 to 300 cords, averaging probably 150 cords. Each boat performed from thirty to thirty-five trips in a season, and of course consumed 5,000 cords of wood. The whole amount consumed by 24 boats, the number usually engaged, great and small in regular trips through, would be 120,000 cords. The smaller boats, and those employed upon the river, used probably 30,000 cords, which would make the total of 150,000 cords of woods consumed in one season. The price of wood varied in different ports from $1.50 to $2 per cord, making the average cost of wood consumed in one season by steamboats, over $250,000 a year. The number of hands employed on steamboats running through the lakes was from 20 to 30 each. The smaller boats employed from 8 to 15 each. The entire lot of men engaged in steamboat navigation, in 1836, numbered about one thousand.
"The actual number of steamboats on the lakes in 1847 compared with 1841," says a writer in the former year, ''is not much, if any, increased; but those which have gone off have been supplied by others of double and quadruple in capacity. At that day there was but one boat over 700 tons, and one other above 600 tons burden. The new ones range from 600 to 1,200 tons. At that time the business from Buffalo to Chicago could be done by six or eight of the then largest size boats; in 1847 it required fifteen, of more than double capacity, to do it, aided by about twenty steam propellers of more than 300 tons each, and an almost endless number of large brigs and schooners, many of which can carry from 10,000 to 15,000 bushels of wheat.
"About 1850 was the height of steamboat prosperity on the lakes. There was at that time a line of sixteen first-class steamers from Buffalo to Chicago, leaving each port twice a day. The boats were elegantly fitted up, usually carried a band of music, and the table was equal to that of most American hotels. They usually made the voyage from Buffalo to Chicago in three or four days, and the charge was about ten dollars. They went crowded with passengers, four or five hundred not being an uncommon number, and their profits were large. The building of the trunk line railroads from east to west soon took away the passenger business, and the propellers could carry freight at lower rates than the expensive side-wheel boats, so they gradually disappeared. In 1860 their number was very small, compared with what it was ten years earlier, while the number of screw-propellers increased steadily."
In May, 1863, the steamers Western World, Plymouth Rock and Mississippi were taken from Detroit to Buffalo to have their machinery removed, and otherwise to be dismantled. These fine steamers were commissioned in 1855, plied but three seasons, and were among the largest and finest floating palaces ever put upon the lakes, and like everything else earthly they had their time; so had the railroads which scooped them, and there was no further use for them. An extravagant outlay of money to a very small purpose, as they never realized one dollar over expenses.
Advent of the Propeller. -- John Ericsson, the famous engineer, brought the screw propeller to perfection. Patents had been granted to other inventors in America as early as 1791, and a screw propeller had been operated on the Hudson from 1802 to 1806 by Col. John Stevens. But not until 30 years later did the inventions prove a success. Ericsson made his first experiments with the screw propeller in England in 1836, associating with him Francis B. Ogden then United States consul at Liverpool. A model was built and tested in a public bath at Liverpool. Then a boat, 40 feet long, was launched on the Thames. It was propelled by a double screw and attained a speed of 10 miles an hour. The Lords of the Admiralty were towed up and down the Thames in their barge by this primitive propeller, and they were asked to adopt it for the British navy service. But the lords decided that no vessel could be steered, if the power was applied at the stern, for had not previous experiments with paddles too near the stern proved that fact?
But Robert F. Stockton, a friend of Ericsson, and an officer in the United States navy, believed in the new application of power. He ordered a small propeller, which was named after him, and sent it across the Atlantic under sail. Ericsson came to America in 1839 and tried to interest the United States Government in his invention. He succeeded in 1844, when the steam frigate Princeton was built with submerged wheels, but before this time Ericsson's screw had been applied to 41 commercial vessels, running on the lakes and along the coast. The first of these was the Vandalia, of 138 tons. She was contracted for in December, 1840, and made her first trip from Oswego to the head of Lake Ontario in November, 1841.
The Vandalia was followed by the propeller Oswego, of 150 tons, in 1842. In 1843 seven propellers were built as follows: The Hercules, 273 tons, at Buffalo; Samson, 250 tons, at Perrysburg; the Emigrant, 275 tons, at Cleveland; the Racine, 150 tons, at Oswego; New York, 150 tons, at Oswego; Chicago, 150 tons, at Oswego; and the Independence, 262 tons, at Chicago. In 1844 the Porter, of 310 tons, was built at Buffalo, and in 1845 the Syracuse, at Oswego; the Princeton at Perrysburg, and the Phoenix, at Cleveland. Up to 1850 there had been built 50 propellers, measuring 16,427 tons. They have since largely supplanted the side-wheel steamers, except for elegant passenger service.
The propeller Hercules was 135 feet long, 25 feet beam, 8 feet hold, and was built in the strongest manner. She had 14 staterooms, 6 feet square, with sufficient additional space for the erection of 46 berths more, thus affording ample accommodations for families who were emigrating.
Her space below for storage was large, having almost the entire hull of the vessel appropriated for that purpose. The principal feature, however, of the Hercules was her engine and its auxiliaries. The engine was simple and very small, being close upon the keelson, and filling a space of six feet, and weighing 15 tons with the entire steam apparatus. It was one of Ericsson's patents made at Auburn, and was 50 horse power. The paddles were made of boiler iron 3/8 inch thick, 18 inches broad by 30 long, and were placed on two long wrought-iron shafts protruding from either side of the stern post. The diameter of the paddles was 6 feet, 4 inches. She was owned by the Messrs. Hollister, of Buffalo, and cost $20,000, being intended for the freight and passenger trade on the upper lakes.
In July, 1843, the Independence, the first propeller built on Lake Michigan, was launched at Chicago. She was a large vessel for those days, being of 262 tons burden. Abaft the cabin in the after-run was placed an engine with which to run a propeller wheel, in case of head winds. The Independence was for years a successful sailing vessel, and it is claimed that she was the finest steam barge of the lakes. She was wrecked on Lake Superior in 1853.
James Averill, a shipbuilder from Maine, had opened a shipyard at Chicago, and built the Independence. She was 112 feet keel, 25 feet beam, and 9 ½ feet hold. She was ready for running in June of that year. The Samson performed the round trip between Buffalo and Chicago in 15 days, which in those days was considered remarkable speed.
The old side-wheel steamer General Porter was converted into a propeller season of 1843 by Capt. C. S. Gager, at Buffalo. The propeller Emigrant, which came out that year, was 275 tons burden, built at Cleveland at a cost of $15,000. The propeller Racine, 150 tons, came out at Oswego the same season, plying from that port to Chicago. She was subsequently converted into a sailing vessel, and lost on Lake Erie in 1849. The propeller New York, built at Oswego, 150 tons, and the Chicago 150 tons, from the same port, were also commissioned in 1843, and were all the new American boats that season. They plied in connection with the New York, Oswego & Chicago line, carrying merchandise and passengers westward, and produce to the east.
On the Canada side of Lake Ontario, the propeller Adventure came out, and was the first of that class of steamers in those waters, and was 158 tons burden She astonished vessel men by making the run from Toronto to Quebec in three days!
It was the propeller that inaugurated steam navigation on Lake Superior. In the fall of 1845 the Indpendence was taken to the Sault Ste. Marie by Capt. J. M. Averill, and preparations made to take her over the portage. During the winter following and the succeeding spring, this was accomplished, and the Independence cast her anchor above the rapids in May, 1846. This propeller doubled White Fish Point, June 27, 1846, with Capt. Barton Atkins at the wheel. At that time the only ports on Lake Superior were Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor, Eagle River and Ontonagon, landings being made at these in small boats from the steamer at anchor in open water. The only lighthouses then on Lake Superior were on White Fish point and Manitou island. Navigation was dangerous because there were no reliable charts, and the compass varied so much that it could not be depended on.
The modern side-wheel steamer is a palatial craft, embodying the perfections of the shipbuilder's craft. Among the best examples are the North West and the North Land, twin steamers, brought out in 1894 and 1895, respectively, for the Northern Steamship Company.
The grand saloon, situated on the deck, has long, sweeping lines of beauty, lofty roof, mellowed light, highly polished carved mahogany, tinted panels with relief work picked out in gold, luxuriously upholstered furniture, sumptuous carpets, and a finely designed balcony in antique brass. There is also a complete library, a very cosy cafe and a smoking room for card playing, etc.
The keynote of the North West's system of decoration is a modified rococo, and this motive is followed up through all her fittings and furnishings. The grand staircase leading from the spar deck to the dining-room below is very rich in design, and of solid mahogany. From the landing, about half way down, the stairs take on both sides a half turn and lead directly into the dining-room. To the right and left of the stairs are the sideboards, fine examples of cabinet work and carving. These sideboards are duplicated at the other end of the dining-room, on either side of a mantel and fireplace. The ceiling is panelled and enriched by ornaments in relief. The cove is decorated with paintings of festoons of fruits and flowers. There are finely modelled ornaments in the panels and on the pilasters, finished in burnished gold that adds to the scheme of color -- a low-toned old ivory -- and sparkle in the brilliant illumination of the many incandescent lights that stud the ceiling and sides of the boat.
The dynamo room is located forward and occupies a place by itself. The ships are equipped with electric signal lights of 100 candle-power each, connected with an automatic alarm attachment located in the pilot house. In case a lamp is extinguished by accident or otherwise, it rings an alarm bell in the pilothouse, also lights a lamp immediately, thus notifying the officers in charge that a lamp has been extinguished.
About 1,500 tons of steel and 145 tons of iron entered into the construction of the hull; the two largest castings, not counting engine castings, two cylinders of which weighed 15 tons each, were at the stern and weighed 5 ½ tons each. The boilers, 28 in all, have been subjected to a pressure of 800 pounds per square inch and are operated at a pressure of 275 pounds. They contain 4,032 separate tubes, with a combined length of about four and a half miles. They drink 70 tons of water per hour, enough to fill a tank 50 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 9 feet deep. In a round trip the boat would turn into steam a quarter of a mile of water, 25 feet wide and 9 feet deep.
Her regular and auxiliary engines employ 65 steam cylinders, 26 pump cylinders and 6 centrifugal pumps. The propellers turn 120 times a minute, and at each revolution send the ship forward 17 feet, that is at the rate of 22 miles per hour, which under pressure may be increased to 27 miles an hour, the speed of an ordinary passenger train.
Nearly 26 miles of electric wire are used, conducting fluid for 1,200 16-candle-power lights. The lamps exceed by 300 the number on the largest ocean steamship. The electric search light on deck has 100,000 candle power, and was used on the Liberal Arts building at the World's Fair in Chicago.
The average commissary order for a round trip of about five days includes 3,000 pounds of beef, 5 ½ barrels of flour, 450 pounds of butter, 350 pounds of sugar, 500 gallons of milk, 40 gallons of cream, 430 dozen eggs, etc.
Iron and Steel Vessels. -- The propeller Onoko, built at the Globe works, Cleveland, in 1882, is usually regarded as the prototype of the modern steel propeller. Previous to that time, however, there had been a number of iron vessels constructed.
The steamer Alert was an iron steamer, built at Buffalo for the topographical service, and launched December 21, 1843. She was of small dimensions and designed exclusively for the survey service of the lakes. She was built entirely of sheet iron, on Lieutenant Hunter's plan, horizontal submerged wheel, and of light draught, about three feet. She had two common high-pressure engines, which gave her great speed.
The United States iron propeller Jefferson was launched early in 1844 at Oswego. The material for her construction was prepared at Pittsburg, whence the iron was conveyed to Oswego, ready for fitting together. The Jefferson was 360 tons burden, and pierced for 26 guns, but carried only one gun amidships. Her engine was one of the Ericsson model of 120-horse power.
The United States steamer Michigan, of 538 tons, was launched in 1843. She was built entirely of iron, excepting the spar deck, which is of three-and-a-half-inch pine plank; draws 8 feet when ready for a cruise. She is pierced for 12 guns (32-pounders).
In 1868 the Anchor line built at Buffalo the steamer Philadelphia, of about 1,600 tons capacity, which was lost by collision with the steel steamer Albany off Point aux Barques, Lake Huron, in 1893, both steamers going to the bottom in deep water. Other steamers built by the Anchor line between 1871 and 1873 were the Alaska, Arabia, India, China, Japan, Java, Cuba, Russia and Scotia. All of these were built at Buffalo. The Java, Cuba, Russia and Scotia were twin-screw steamers.
The steamer Onoko, 282 feet long, is one of the most remarkable steamers on the lakes, notwithstanding she is of the canal-boat style of naval architecture. She has run on the lakes for sixteen seasons, and has earned money enough to load her down. For ten of the sixteen years that she has run she carried the largest cargoes of any boat afloat on fresh water, and has had business in ore at $3 per ton, and wheat from Port Arthur at 14 cents per bushel. She was the first of the modern iron freighters.
Less than ten years ago the iron steamer Onoko was pointed out by marine men as being a marvel. She carried the largest cargo of any ship on the lakes -- 110,000 bushels of corn. In 1897 the schooner Amazon carried out of South Chicago 230,000 bushels of corn, and nothing was thought of it. Every year has seen an average growth of from ten to twenty feet in the length of vessels, with a corresponding increase in the beam and depth. At every advance vesselmen said the boats were as big as they could be economically handled, but generally the next contract showed them to be mistaken. In 1897 it was announced that the Zenith Transportation Company, of Duluth, had given an order for a steamer 450 feet long to the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company; old-time vesselmen again said it was the limit of size for a successful lake carrier. The Bessemer Steamship Company has since added 25 feet.
The prediction that within ten years 600-foot vessels will be built on the lakes is made by the Detroit Free Press. Experiments are being made with a central arch of steel running fore and aft, as it is in the length not width that weakness is shown in a seaway. Then it is thought that girders will be. so changed in position and composition as to give greater strength, and that strakes will not only be made stronger but better fastened as the method improves with experiment. The limit as to depth is certainly reached now, though fifty-five feet, and even a little greater, may be attained in width. Therefore it would be necessary to introduce the arch and other means of strengthening. Not only the seas but the action of the engine gives the long hull the snake-like motion that is plainly perceptible if one stands at the after end and look towards the bow. A steel arch, running amidships the length of the vessel, and well braced, would so strengthen the modern steel vessel hull as to allow of the 550-foot length and greater, and at the same time not handicap the vessel with dead weight, giving it great draught when with light cargo.
For ten years past it had been impossible to get a strictly modern boat on the lakes. Size and style changed between the laying of the keel and the launching of the ship. Nowhere in the world has the progress in marine architecture been so pronounced as on the Great Lakes, where a greater tonnage was launched in 1896 than in all the rest of the United States.
Three years ago the biggest load ever carried on the lakes was about 4,000 tons, and it was a year before such loads became common. Two years ago came the first 5,000-ton vessel, and it was supposed the limit had been reached. In a year the lakes were dotted with vessels that carried over 5,000 tons, and this season there are half a dozen that load over 6,000 tons. Six years ago the 2,500-ton freighters of the Great Northern road were leaders in size and equipment. To-day such ships are back numbers, though most efficient vessels. There never has been a time when nor a waterway where progress has been so rapid as in the past half dozen years on the Great Lakes.
Development of the Barge. -- In a recent address, President Richmond of the Buffalo Board of Trade said: "No longer ago than 1850 the most spacious propeller on the Great Lakes could carry only 600 tons. Gradually the size has been enlarged. In 1861 the modern and economical system of transportation in barges on the Great Lakes is said to have been first introduced. Its result has been a wonderful reduction in the cost of freightage. It was first used in the lumber trade, where it was highly successful, and now nearly all the lumber brought to Buffalo and Tonawanda is carried in barges, in lines of four, five and six, towed by propellers or steam tugs. Thus a million and a half or two million feet are brought in one tow. It was not until 1871 that the use of a propeller with one barge attached for the carriage of grain on the Great Lakes was first introduced. It may be said to have revolutionized the business. Large numbers of tows, each consisting of propeller and its consort and carrying from 100,000 to 120,000 bushels, were subsequently employed."
The greatest whaleback ever designed was launched June 25, 1898, for the American Steel Barge Company, at the West Superior (Wis.) shipyard. She is 430 feet long, 414 feet on the keel, 50 feet beam, and 27 feet deep, with a capacity of about 8,000 tons, on 18 feet draught. It embodies all the latest ideas of its owners.
One of the features of the latest whale-back is deck lighting, by means of arc lights similar to those used in lighting the streets. Another is the building of a pilothouse near the bows, abaft the turret. The original plan in the whaleback was to build the pilothouse above the engineroom, just in front of the smokestack.
The largest boat ever constructed for the lake service is the Moose, for the Bessemer Steel Company, built this year, at West Bay City, Mich., in the yards of F. W. Wheeler & Co. It is 475 feet long, 452 feet keel, 50 feet beam, and 28 feet deep. All of the latest steam appliances have been placed in this steamer; but, as is the case with the rest of the steamers of the Bessemer fleet, nothing in the shape of luxury of appointments will be provided. These boats are made without regard for beauty of line, but are built for carrying large cargoes.
The appearance of the first fleet of steel canal boats on the Great Lakes and the Erie canal was due to an investigation by the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, which revealed the fact that the poor showing by the manufacturers of that city in the East was due to their inability to compete in Eastern markets on account of the heavy freight charges. It was found that the reason Buffalo had better freight rates was due to the competition of the Erie canal from that city to New York. Charles E. Wheeler, the Superintendent of Transportation of the Chamber of Commerce, suggested the building of a fleet of steel boats to take freight through without transfer, from Cleveland to New York. Great prejudice was found along the canal against such a project, as it was claimed that the rocky bottom would seriously injure the steel vessels, and that no canal boat could weather the storms of Lake Erie. The first fleet, constructed in 1895, set at rest all doubts as to the fitness of steel boats for the service. This fleet consisted of a steamer and five consorts, all being 98 feet long, 17 feet 10 inches wide, and 10 feet deep. The steamer is driven by a fore-and-aft compound engine of 120 horse-power, and carries 125 tons of freight, while the consorts carry 230 tons each. The first trip was made in August, 1895, with a cargo of rails for the New York street railways.
In January, 1896, a further addition to this steel fleet was contracted for, consisting of three steamers and ten consorts. They were the same breadth and length as the first ones, but were made two feet deeper with a view to utilizing the increased depth of two feet of water in the canal.
During the season of 1897 the company brought to Cleveland 90,000 barrels of sugar, their cargoes east-bound consisting of grain, nails and miscellaneous merchandise, and in 1897 including the four large rudder frames for the United States men-of-war Kearsarge, Alabama, Kentucky and Illinois. It is not the intention of the company at any time to operate west of Lake Erie, as manifestly there is a point where the large tonnage of the big boats, plus their speed, will be more remunerative than the use of the small boats in spite of the advantage of non-transfer. The theory of the company has been that this service could be successfully operated from points on the south shore of Lake Erie as far west, probably, as Detroit. During 1897 the canal boats went to Toledo, and the company would not hesitate to inaugurate a service from Toledo or Detroit, were not abundant business offered to them at Cleveland.
The boats in general outline resemble the ordinary wooden canal boat, and the first fleet was constructed by the Globe Works of this city, and the rest of the boats by the Crescent Ship Yard of Elizabethport, New Jersey.
The Ann Arbor road operates two steamers with 48-cars capacity, from Frankfort, Mich., to Gladstone and Menominee, Mich., and to Kewaunee and Manitowoc, Wis.; the F. & P. M. Transportation Company operates one steamer with 30-cars capacity, from Ludington to Manitowoc; the Chicago & West Michigan Railway one of 26-cars capacity, from Milwaukee to Muskegon; the Lake Michigan C. F. Transportation Company operates 9 floats and 3 tugs, with a capacity 117 cars, from South Chicago to Peshtigo, and from Manitowoc to Benton Harbor; the Michigan Central 3, the Grand Trunk 2, and the Canadian Pacific 2, between Detroit and Windsor; the Michigan Central 2, between Mackinaw and St. Ignace; the Michigan & Ohio C. F. Transportation Company 2 floats between Sandusky and Detroit; the United States & Ontario Steam Navigation Company 1 between Conneaut Harbor, Ohio, and Port Dover, Ontario.
The Marquette, operated by the F. & P. M. Transportation Company, was built in 1896 by W. F. Wheeler & Co., of West Bay City, and cost $300,000. Her length between perpendiculars is 331 feet, her overall length 350 feet, beam 56 feet, depth below main deck 19 ½ feet, depth from upper deck to floor 37 feet. The steel frames and plating extend from bilge to upper deck, and the main and upper decks also are of steel. Over 2,700 tons of steel were used in her construction. The bow of the new steamer is double-plated with ¾-inch plates for a distance of 30 feet abaft the stem, and this double plating extends three feet above the load line. To resist the great pressure of ice shoves, channel beams thoroughly secured both vertically and horizontally span the hull at close intervals about midway between the floor and main deck. The hull has six water-tight compartments but no water-bottom. A shield of forged steel affords protection for the rudder, and the shafting of the two after wheels is housed in.
The steamer has three fore-and-aft compound engines of equal power each, with 24-and 48 inch cylinders and 36-inch stroke. One of these engines works the bow wheel, the other two the stern wheels. Steam is furnished by four boilers, each 13 ½ feet in diameter and 12 feet long. The wheels are of steel, the two aft of 11 feet and the forward one 9 ½ feet diameter. The upper works embrace a cabin with accommodations for twenty-five passengers in connection with the pilot house, texas, etc., and a house abaft the smoke-stacks to provide quarters for the crew. The steamer carries thirty loaded cars and 200 tons of coal on a draught not to exceed 13 feet.
Steel Canal Boats. -- A new type of vessel, which first appeared on the lakes in 1895, was a fleet of six steel canal boats, one propeller and five barges. They were built at Cleveland for service between that port and New York via the Erie canal. In general outline they resemble the ordinary wooden canal boat. They have been frequently caught in gales on Lake Erie, and their efficiency has often been demonstrated. In November, 1896, the fleet encountered a storm off Dunkirk, and anchored 10 miles from shore in the teeth of a gale blowing 72 miles per hour. The company's fleet now numbers 4 propellers and 15 consorts. They averaged during 1897 one trip more per season through the Erie canal than any of the boats running between Buffalo and New York. The boats are 98 feet long, 17 feet 10 inches wide and 10 feet deep. One vessel and three consorts carries about 1,000 tons of freight.
A Horse Ferry Boat. -- In 1844 the Privat Brothers, at Toronto, purchased a vessel, which had been running on the Niagara river below the Falls, to ply for passengers between Toronto and the Island. This vessel they named the Peninsula Packet, and placed in command of Louis Joseph Privat. But few if any of those who took passage upon this vessel ever knew or cared for its name, every one calling it the "horse boat ." She was 60 feet long and 23 feet wide, and was a side-wheeler. These wheels were made to revolve by two horses, which trod on a circular table, set flush with the deck in the center, and revolved upon rollers, which being connected with the shaft set the wheels in motion. The horses remained stationary on the deck, the table on which they trod revolving under them, and being furnished with ridges of wood, radiating like spokes from the center, and which the horses caught with their feet, thus setting the tables in motion. After two years an alteration was made in the construction of the propelling apparatus, and instead of two horses there were five placed on the revolving table, except that the table itself did not now revolve, the horses going round and round the deck, in precisely the same manner as in the old-style threshing-machine horse power. This vessel served the purpose of a ferry boat until 1850, when she was taken off the route.
At this time Louis Joseph Privat built a steamer called the Victoria, having an engine of twenty-five horse power, and ran her as a ferry boat from Robert Maitland's wharf at the foot of Church street, every hour from 10 A. M. to 7 p. M. , until the end of the season of 1853, when he sold her to George Tate, then superintendent of the Grand Trunk railroad, who ran her until the fall of 1855; this was in Toronto, Canada.
The Old Ferry at Black Rock. -- Historical reading furnishes information that a ferry was maintained over the waters of Niagara river at Black Rock at quite an early date, even in the days of the Revolution. This is believed to have been the first ferry established on western waters above the great cataract, unless there was one earlier on the Detroit river, a locality early in evidence. For a ferry landing on the American side of the river was the historic "black rock," whale-like projecting its sable back above the sand surface on shore, and then penetrating its flat top, 100 feet wide, into the river 100 feet or more, with its surface 4 feet above the water, thus constituting an excellent landing place for the bateaux of the early voyagers, and subsequently an enduring wharf, the first in lake commerce and one never out of repair.
Here in 1679 was that intrepid explorer of unknown lands and waters, amid savage life, described as a "blue-eyed, fair faced, ringletted cavalier, fitted to grace the salons of Paris," Robert de La Salle, with his well-formed little vessel, Le Griffon, with 33 Frenchmen and one Italian and seven little brass cannon on board, making repeated attempts to stem the rapids that he might proceed -- he didn't know where.
In 1800 one O'Neil ran the ferry, making landings at the rock, and living in a log hut standing adjacent thereto, and serving a double purpose, or paying a double debt, being both a ferry-house and a residence. The boats were scows, propelled by sweeps in 1806, when Major Frederick Miller, father of the deceased navigator of that name, took the ferry and operated it until 1812, when for a time it was discontinued in deference to the war. Then the ferry boats were seized and taken to Canada by a raiding party of the enemy, but were soon retaken by the Americans, and before the end of 1813 they were again on duty, managed by an American, named Lester Brace. Mr. Brace retained an interest in the ferry until 1821, except for an interval when it was run by Asa Stanard, father of the former lake captains, Charles C. and Benjamin Stanard. In 1826 the ferry was operated by Lester Brace and Donald Fraser, who placed a horse-power boat on the service. Asa Stanard was an early builder of lake shipping, having a yard at Block Rock prior to 1812. The machinery of the horse boat consisted of a horizontal wheel the width of the boat, the horsetreading at the sides. This was the second horse-power boat ever operated, the first being on the Hudson river at Albany. The horse boat was continued until 1840, when James Haggart placed a steamboat in service.
Ferries at Detroit. -- The following account of the car ferries at Detroit appeared in the Marine Review. It was in the year 1825 that the first boat was put on the river to ply regularly between Detroit and Windsor. She was a scow-constructed craft named Olive Branch. She had been purchased in Cleveland by D. C. McKinstry and Capt. John Burtiss, and had formerly been propelled by horses. An advertisement published at the time cited that she would be used for the purpose of "transporting wagons, horses, cattle and passengers across the Detroit river." Her landing on the American side was at Dorr & Jones' dock, and on the Canada side at a wharf built by McKinstry & Burtiss, directly opposite. Prior to this the traffic across the river had been carried on by small boats and scows. This mode of conveyance continued until 1830, when Captain Burtiss had a steamer constructed named the Argo, the hull being a large dug-out, or canoe, which was severed in twain fore and aft, spread apart and decked over, side wheels being added. She was built by Shadrack Jenkins, and continued to ply in the ferry service until 1834, when a rival made her appearance, named Lady of the Lake. The Argo fell into the hands of Louis Davenport in 1832, and in 1836 he brought out the high-pressure steamer United, a craft of 71 tons burden. It is said that her exhaust gave out such a peculiar sound that it could be heard for miles in clear weather. The United continued on the route until 1853, when she was enlarged and converted into a wood barge, in which trade she remained until 1879, when she was sunk by collision near St. Clair Flats, after having been in service 43 years.
The Alliance came on the route in the spring of 1842, and a few years later her name was changed to Undine. The steamer Argo No. 2 followed in 1848, but soon after her advent she exploded, killing her master, Captain Foster, and several others. After being rebuilt she was under the command of Capt. W. Clinton (father of Capt. W. R. Clinton), for several years, and later was sailed by Capt. James Forbes, until 1872, when she was taken off the route, having plied in that service twenty-four years. In 1852 Dr. Russell, of Detroit, had the steamer Ottawa built. She was of 300 tons burden, and was first sailed by Capt. W. R. Clinton and afterward by Capt. A. H. Mills, the veteran tug man. She was sold to parties in Toledo, where she again served as a ferry steamer and spent the residue of her days on the Maumee.
The side-wheel steamer Gem, which was built for W. P. Campbell, of Detroit, came out in 1856. She was only 50 tons burden and was of less size than nearly all that had preceded her on the route. After plying a short time between Gibraltar and Detroit, she was placed on ferry service between Detroit and Windsor. A short time prior to this period the steamer Mohawk had been engaged and was sailed on the route by Captain Chilvers. This boat had something of a history. She was built of iron at Kingston in 1842 for the British Government service as a lake revenue steamer. She was finally changed to a passenger boat, and was lost on Lake Huron in 1868. The Windsor, 223 tons, was built in 1856, and was put into the ferry service. In the spring of 1866 she was chartered by the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad Company for the purpose of conveying passengers and freight to and from Windsor. On the morning of April 23 she took fire and thirty lives were lost. She was so badly damaged in hull and machinery as to render her unfit for further use as a ferry boat. Subsequently she was rebuilt, the machinery taken out and the hull made a tow barge. She was finally taken to Lake Michigan.
The steamer Essex was built in 1859 at Walkerville, above Windsor. She plied on the ferry route for several years. She lay submerged at Walkerville for some time, and was finally purchased by parties on the river St. Clair and used as a ferry between Courtwright and St. Clair. Other boats that served on the route for transient periods were built for other purposes. The Detroit was built at Algonac in 1864. In September, 1875, she was destroyed by fire at Sandwich. The Hope was built and came on the route in 1870. She was later changed into a screw propeller.
Up to this time the ferry boats had been of the side-wheel class, and during severe winter weather were incapable of forcing a passage through the ice, and consequently were compelled to lay up at intervals. Early in 1872 Capt. W. R. Clinton designed and built the Victoria, which, as he expressed it, "would go through or over the ice, irrespective of thickness," to be propelled by a screw wheel. When put to the test the Captain's expectations were realized. As a ferry steamer she was a success and of remarkable speed. Not infrequently has she gone to the relief of the large railway steamers when ice-bound. The Victoria is of 192 tons burden, and is now owned by the Detroit, Belle Isle & Windsor Ferry Company. In 1875 Capt. W. P. Campbell had the steamer Fortune built. She was 199 tons burden, cost $25,000, and was constructed much after the style of the Victoria.
After the incorporation of the present ferry company, operating between Detroit and Windsor, the Excelsior, 229 tons, was constructed, followed in 1880 by the Garland, 246 tons. The Victoria, Fortune, Excelsior and Garland were built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company.
Evolution of the Lake Carrier. -- An interesting address on "The Lake Marine" was delivered early in 1897 by B. L. Pennington, of Cleveland, before the Ohio State Board of Commerce. Mr. Penning-ton sketched the marvelous evolution of the lake carrier, and the effect of the increased capacity upon freight rates, as well as upon commerce generally. Speaking of the lake vessel he said: "The growth of the lake tonnage, for the most part, has kept pace with the industrial development of that vast region, and this development has expanded with the increase of population throughout the United States -- the augmentation of capital -- the growth of manufacturers -- the multiplying wants of a higher and yet higher civilization and the enlargement of our trade with foreign countries.
"For the foregoing reasons the gradual growth of the lake marine, from the time the first little sail craft was put afloat, is shown to have been an inevitable and natural evolution. The lake marine had its simple and primitive beginning in the 17th century, though but little development accrued until the I9th, after the advent of steam navigation. Lake Ontario was first to be honored. From the birch bark canoe of the savage to the small sloop or schooner with canvas, there was simple evolution.
"In 1818 the marine fleet of Lake Ontario numbered sixty vessels -- fifty-nine sail vessels and one steamer. In 1816 the whole tonnage of vessels at all Lake Erie ports, including Detroit, was only 2,067 tons -- only about half of the register of some of our largest modern steamers. These vessels ranged in size from ten to 134 tons register.
"The subsequent growth of the lake tonnage was more rapid, as well in the size as in the number of crafts put afloat. In 1849 it aggregated about 160,000 tons -- value nearly eight million dollars. In 1862 there were 1,502 vessels, 383,000 tons. In 1886 there were 1,997 vessels, 635,000 tons. In 1891 there were 2,125 vessels, 871,000 tons. In 1896 there were about 3,400 vessels and about 1,250,000 tons, value eighty million dollars. So from 1849 to 1896 the value of the fleet increased tenfold. About two-thirds of the present fleet are of steam. Sail vessels have decreased with the increase of steamers and of towing. Most of the craft carrying sails are regularly towed by steamers.
"The greatest evolution has been caused by the metal steamers -- largely during the last decade when measures for deeper channels and harbors were inaugurated. The limit to the size of wooden boats had been reached, and metal had grown cheaper.
"The lake marine from its infancy kept pace with the improvements of harbors and the deepening of channels until the advent of metal boats, when the latter set the pace, and are being built in length and loaded draught much beyond the immediate ability of most of the narrow and shoal harbors and antiquated cargo-handling plants to properly care for them. Improvements of these are projected and are coming slowly.
are able to carry full loads into all the harbors as they now are, the incentive for immediate improvements will not be so moving. Meanwhile the smaller craft will continue a necessity and remain an important minority of the lake marine."
The tonnage of 1898 was apportioned among the ports as follows: Amherstburg, 121; Belleville, 893; Bowmanville, 752; Brockville, 203; Chatham, 1,518; Chippewa, 153; Cobourg, 311; Collingwood, 5,483; Cornwall, 162; Cramahe, 278; Deseronto, 1,412; Dunnville, 57; Goderich, 1,825; Hamilton, 5,095; Kingston, 23,393; Morrisburg, 382; Napanee, 122; Oakville, 323; Ottawa, 25,411; Owen Sound, 4,332; Picton, 2,054; Port Arthur, 2,004; Port Burwell, 450; Port Colborne, 681; Port Dover, 691; Port Hope, 5,512; Port Rowan, 491; Port Stanley, 739; Prescott, 6,175; Sarnia, 7,091; Saugeen, 328; Sault Ste. Marie, 970; St. Catharines, 13,427; Toronto, 14,655; Wallaceburg, 2,032; Whitby, 514; Windsor, 5,309.
The Polson Iron Works were established in 1883 by William and F. B. Polson, but did not begin shipbuilding until 1889 when on Owen Sound they constructed for the Canadian Pacific railroad the steel steamer Manitoba. Later they built other vessels at Owen Sound, and in 1894 moved their plant to Toronto.
An extended sketch of ship building will not be attempted in this connection, nor would it be desirable; but brief allusion may properly be made to the successive stages by which the construction of the merchant marine of the Great Lakes has advanced. In early times, when the demand for vessels existed, ship yards sprang up in various parts of the Great Lakes system. During the early part of the war of 1812 there was no merchant ship building carried on on the lakes. The British had the entire control of these waters. After the battle of Lake Erie goods were shipped to some extent in government vessels, when that could be done. Then afterward when commerce again became safe and free there were but few points along the southern shores of Lake Erie where vessels could go into winter quarters, or where they could be fitted out or repaired for the next season's business. There were, however, a few points, such as Con-ja-qua-da creek, below Black Rock, and River Rouge, below Detroit, on the United States side, and Moy, Amherstburg and Chippewa creek on the Canadian side. The former of these places was, however, the most popular, as it was easy of access, and such material as was needed could be there most easily obtained. In 1812 it had been made a temporary naval station, and so remained until the arrival of Commodore Perry, when all the supplies, vessels and stores were removed to Erie.
Ship building was commenced at Clayton, on Lake Ontario, in 1832, on Washington island by Smith & Merrick, and for several years was carried on briskly, not unfrequently five vessels being on the stocks at one time, giving employment to 150 or 200 men, and the only limit to the size of the vessels were the locks in the Welland canal. The first vessels built there were the Jessie Smith and Horatio Gates, for Smith & Merrick.
The Union Dry Dock Company, of Buffalo, is famous for possessing and operating the yard where the side-wheel steamer Walk-in-the-Water was built in 1818. At that time the name of the firm was Bidwell & Banta, after which it was changed to Mason & Bidwell, and afterward and until the Union Dry Dock Company was incorporated, in 1870, business was carried on under the name of Taylor & Jewett. This shipyard has been closely identified with the advancement in every stage of vessel building for the inland seas. The predecessors of the Union Dry Dock Company, between 1840 and 1860, constructed many famous and historical craft. The Southern Michigan, Northern Indiana, Western Metropolis, City of Buffalo -- all flyers -- were built here. The propeller Hercules, built in 1843, was one of the first on the lakes. Between 1844 (when the famous Indian Queen, a noted boat in her day, came out) and 1862, eighteen large side-wheel steamers were built here. At this place, in 1887-88, were constructed the famous steel steamships Owego and Chemung. These two magnificent crafts, each 350 feet in length, are among the largest running on our inland seas. The Tioga, built in 1885, was the first steel steamer constructed on the lakes. The terrific naphtha explosion on board this vessel, at Chicago in 1890, and which would probably have sunk an iron vessel, and certainly burned a wooden one, was confined wholly to the hold aft of the engine.
The Union Dry Dock Company, of Buffalo, was incorporated in 1870, and the yards have been managed under this name ever since. The company has built many fine boats, the first of which was the New-burg, 216 feet in length, built in 1870.
The shipyard of this company originally fronted on Buffalo creek and the City Ship canal, 450 feet on the former and 400 feet on the latter. The fronting on Buffalo creek has been used for the past fourteen years for the construction of their iron and steel vessels, while their wooden vessels have been built on the canal. In 1892 an exchange was made between this company and the Pennsylvania Coal Company, by which the former secured possession of property up to that time belonging to the latter adjoining their south line, and having a frontage on Buffalo creek of 615 feet. By this exchange the company had in all a frontage on Buffalo creek of nearly 1,100 feet, and here since 1893 their entire shipbuilding plant has been located.
The officers of this company since 1870 have been as follows: Presidents -- S. S. Guthrie, Washington Bullard, John King and E. B. Thomas; superintendents -- M. M. Drake, W. I. Babcock and Edward F. W. Gaskin; secretary -- A. R. McDonough; treasurers -- J. H. Bartow, A. C. Cordes, Arthur Turnbull, A. Donaldson and Edward White.
One of the best known shipbuilders at Cleveland, when wooden ships were constructed, was Thomas Quayle, sometimes called the father of Cleveland shipbuilders. He was born on the Isle of Man, May 9, 1811, and came with his parents to Cleveland in 1827. He finished his apprenticeship as shipbuilder in Cleveland, and then started in business in 1847, with James Cody as partner, the firm continuing for three years. Luther Moses was a partner later, and they had sometimes seven boats on the stocks at once. John Martin succeeded to the firm, and boats built by Quayle & Martin have still a high reputation on the lakes. In one year they built thirteen vessels. In 1874 Mr. Martin died, and the firm was reorganized under the name of Thomas Quayle & Sons, George L. and Thomas E. Quayle being made partners. They built the steamers E. B. Hale, Sparta and the Commodore, the latter being at that time the largest vessel on the lakes. In 1878 they built two boats for the Anchor line, and two, the Buffalo and Chicago, for the Western Transit Company. In 1882 Mr. Quayle retired from business, and the firm was continued as Thomas Quayles' Sons, William E. entering the firm. This firm continued as long as the wooden shipbuilding industry survived in Cleveland.
Early Ship Building at Chicago -- Ship building, according to Capt. Peter F. Flood, was commenced in Chicago in 1835. The Clarissa was begun in the spring of 1835, by Nelson R. Norton, but was not completed, or launched, until May 18, 1836. The Detroit, Capt. John Crawford, was built at Milwaukee in 1836-37 for the Chicago trade, at a cost of $50,000. This vessel was lost off Kenosha in November, 1837, after only six months service. About this time (1836) an association of the then young, energetic and enterprising citizens was formed, and they commenced the building of the steamer James Allen. It was completed in 1838, Capt. C. H. Case having charge of its construction. The shipyard was on "Goose Island." The Allen was built to be fast, and to run across Lake Michigan from St. Joseph to Chicago, in connection with the stage and mail line. Her hull was narrow and sharp in form, and light in material. Two powerful, low-pressure, horizontal engines were put on the guards, on the main deck. The boilers were small, and, on trial, proved to be insufficient. When the Jim Allen had steam up and started on her trial trip for St. Joseph, she went out of Chicago at a speed that pleased, as well as astonished, her owner and designer. The first fourteen miles were run inside of an hour. Then the engines began to "slow up," and the voyage took about ten hours. Every effort was made to keep up the supply of steam to the two large engines, but the result was the same as experienced during the outward trip. To use the expression of her commander, she would run the first thirty minutes "like a skeered dog," then her speed would gradually slacken to about seven miles an hour, and nothing could coax her to do any better. For two seasons, notwithstanding the utmost exertions taken, there was no improvement in the Allen's average rate of speed, and she was then sold and taken to the lower lakes.
The George W. Dole was also built by Captain Case, soon after the completion of the James Allen, and the two ran together over the St. Joseph and Michigan City route. The former was sunk at Buffalo, in 1856, having previously been changed into a sailing vessel. These were the first and only steamers built in Chicago previous to 1842.
The shipyards of Chicago were now beginning to present unusual signs of activity. In 1845 there were constructed the schooners Maria Hilliard, J. Young Scammon, and Ark; in 1846 the barque Utica, brig Ellen Parker, and schooner N. C. Walton. In 1847 eighty schooners had been, or were being, built, in Chicago, one brig and one propeller -- the A. Rosseter -- a total tonnage of 4,833. Nineteen schooners, one propeller and one brig owned by Chicago people. The leading ship-builders at this time were Jordan, Miller & Conners. The latter afterward formed a partnership with Riordan & Dunn, on the South side, near Van Buren-street bridge. From 1850 the building of vessels at Chicago, and for the Chicago trade, became an important industry.
The iron ship-building industry had in 1872 become fairly established at Cleveland and Detroit. The price of iron had fallen sufficiently to make previous experiments successful business enterprises. Buffalo and Milwaukee followed a little later, though with feebler energy. Chicago has developed large steel-ship producing capacity. West Superior has turned out a heavy tonnage, and West Bay City has become one of the most important ship-building plants on the Great Lakes.
"For about four or five years, "writes Joseph R. Oldham in '' Cassier's Magazine," in 1897, "the mean standard dimensions of steamers constructed on these lakes were: length 295 feet, breadth 40 feet, depth 25 feet, and it is remarkable how long shipowners and shipbuilders hovered about these dimensions; but it was the same elsewhere not many years ago. I remember well when but two types of steamers were generally constructed in European yards over a period of four or five years. The 'well-deck ' type was usually about 250 feet in length, and the flush-deck type was about 300 feet long. The former vessels carried about 2,000 tons, and the latter about 3, 500 tons dead weight. Steamers of just about these dimensions kept the seacoast builders engaged for several years.
"The first drastic departure in the building of lake steamers of largely increased dimensions was taken by a young, but enterprising and farseeing, shipowner and merchant of Cleveland. The victory was the result of a careful and courageous calculation of financial probabilities and physical possibilities, and from that inception may the immediately modern evolution in naval architecture on these Great Lakes be dated. So passing over small and timid advances in the way of increased capacities of ships, let us see what the absolute and comparative increase of tonnage amounts to since the season of navigation preceding the advent of the victory.
"If time permitted it might be interesting to many if the large lake fleets of oak steamers and sailing vessels were dwelt upon, for amongst the best of these may readily be found some of the strongest cargo vessels afloat, and their aggregate tonnage largely exceeds that of the iron and steel steamers; but there is no disguising the fact that metal is rapidly superseding wood as the material of which both large and small craft are being constructed. The paramount reason for this is the rapidity with which wooden vessels decay, whereas iron ships, if kept clean and properly painted, do not rust to a dangerous extent before they become obsolete in design, and valueless as commercial commodities.
"Five years ago there was not a vessel on these lakes that displaced 5,000 tons when floating on the St. Mary's river. Today there are not fewer than twenty high-powered steel screw steamers which displace about 8, 500 tons on the same draft of water. This represents an average increase in the carrying capacity of no less than 70 per cent., and the percentage increase in register tonnage is still higher. Steel cargo steamers, 415 feet in length, and 48 feet in breadth, are now being constructed.
"These dimensions are greater than those of the average modern ocean steamer, though several British cargo steamers are about one hundred feet longer and their depth and draft of water is much greater. The carrying capacity of this new lake fleet will equal 3,500,000 tons of ore, transported from the head of Lake Superior to Lake Erie in one season of navigation."
Early in 1895 the first of the 400-foot vessels, the Victory and the Zenith City, appeared. In 1897 the Bessemer Steamship Company placed contracts with F. W. Wheeler & Company for a steel steamer and two consorts, larger than anything previously built. The steamer is 475 feet over all, 455 feet keel, 50 feet beam and 29 feet deep. She has quadruple expansion engines, cylinders 28, 40, 59 and 85 inches, with 42-inch stroke. Steam is furnished by four Scotch type boilers, allowing 200 pounds working pressure to the square inch. Her water bottom is six feet deep. The schooners are larger than any steamer that has been turned out on the lakes up to the present time, and are the greatest carriers on fresh water. The schooners are 450 feet over all, 435 feet between perpendiculars, 50 feet beam and 28 ½ feet deep. They have 5 ½ feet water bottoms, and 2,600 tons of metal were used in the construction of each of the boats. They carry 7,000 gross tons of ore on 17 feet, which makes the carrying capacity of the three boats over 20,000 tons to the trip. The schooners have very heavy towing machines and stock-less anchors, fourteen hatches with 24-foot centers. While the new boats are great carriers, they are made as strong as possible without using any unnecessary material.
W. B. Morley and J. J. Hill constitute the shipbuilding firm known as Morley & Hill, located in Marine City, Mich. They have a wide reputation for the construction of stanch, seaworthy vessels, as they build on honor and use the best of material. Messrs. Morley and Hill first associated together for the purpose of shipbuilding at Sodus Point, New York, in the year 1866, when they rebuilt the schooner S. P. Johnson, her name being then changed to Grace Sherwood. Their next boat was built in Marine City, where they rented the yard of David Gallagher, with a frontage on Belle river. They soon acquired the yard by purchase. It is 330 feet front on Belle river by 300 feet deep. In 1871 they built the steamer D. W. Powers, 303 tons register, and the following year they launched the steamer Jarvis Lord, 938 tons. This was the second double-deck steamer ever built on the lakes, and proved to be a good business boat. In 1873 they laid the keel for the steamer N. K. Fairbanks, 980 gross tons, but owing to the financial panic of that year she was not completed and launched until August, 1874, and did not go into commission until the spring of 1875.
Then followed the steamer Morley, 870 tons register, built in 1879; steamer A. L. Hopkins, 757 tons, in 1880; steamer S. J. Macy, 548 tons, in 1881; steamer J. H. Osborne and the well-known passenger steamer Mary, noted for her speed and other good qualities in 1882; steamer New Orleans, 1,169 tons, in 1885; steamer Louisiana, 1,259 tons, in 1887; steamer W. B. Morley, 1,469 tons, in 1888, her name being changed to Caledonia when sold to Capt. James Corrigan in 1890; steamer Italia, 2,036 tons, built to the order of Capt. James Corrigan; steamer St. Lawrence, 1,437 tons, in 1890; steamer J. J. Hill, 974 gross tons, in 1892. This boat was built for saltwater service, but is still on the lakes. The steamer W. B. Morley was the last vessel built by the firm. She was launched in 1892, and is 1,747 gross tons register. The firm owns controlling interest in the steamers St. Lawrence, J. J. Hill and W. B. Morley, which are managed by Capt. C. T. Morley.
The shipyard of the Detroit Dry Dock Company, at Wyandotte, Mich., is the oldest of the steel plants on the lakes now in operation. It was formed in July, 1872, with a capital of $300,000. For 20 years before ship building had been conducted on the Wyandotte site of the company's plant. Campbell & Company, in 1852, launched the first large vessel there. Mr. Owen ten years later became a partner, and in 1870 Capt. S. R. Kirby succeeded to the Campbell interest. In 1877 a small plant at Wyandotte which for five years had been operated by Capt. Eber Ward, was absorbed by the Dry Dock Company.
During the 26 years of its existence the Detroit Dry Dock Company has constructed about 125 vessels, with a tonnage aggregating 140,000. In 1880 the company began the construction of iron steamers. It has built many of the finest passenger boats on. the lakes. The present officers of the company are: Hugh McMillan, president; Alexander McVittie, vice-president; Gilbert N. McMillan, secretary and treasurer; Frank E. Kirby, engineer.
The Globe Iron Works Company grew from a small beginning. In 1869 Robert Wallace, John F. Pankhurst, John B. Cowle and Henry D. Coffinberry became interested in a machine shop and foundry on Center street, Cleveland, then known by the firm name of Sanderson & Co. In time the foundry burned down and was replaced with a brick building. The wooden buildings which housed the machine shops became gradually unfit for use, and a fine three-story brick building was erected to take their place. This structure, much enlarged and extended, remains standing.
About this time Stevens & Presley, who had for many years operated a marine railway on the Old River bed, were induced to commence the construction of a dry dock on their property. Because of financial difficulties they were unable to finish the work, and the proprietors of the Globe Iron Works purchased a half-interest in the uncompleted enterprise. This concern is now known as the Cleveland Dry Dock Company, and has proved a highly successful venture.
The Globe Iron Works gradually embarked in the business of ship building. They constructed a number of steam and sailing vessels and tugs, being the first firm in Cleveland to contract to deliver a vessel ready for sea. Previous to this time it had been customary for one contract to be made for the hull of a vessel, one for the cabin, one for the rigging, another for the fittings, etc. The first contract for a complete vessel was made with the Republic Iron Company for a steamer which was named the Republic, two other steamers, the Colonial and the Continental, and three consorts being subsequently built for the same company.
The demand for vessels from this yard became so brisk that the original shipyard, near the Globe works, became inadequate, and a new yard was started near the head of the Old River bed. This has grown until to-day it is nearly a quarter of a mile in length, and has stock room for four modern lake carriers at one time.
The market for iron ships expanded, and preparations were made to meet the demand. The new yards were fitted up for the construction of steel boats, and in 1880 the Globe Ship Building Company was organized, with the original partners, Messrs. Wallace, Pankhurst, Coffinberry and Cowle, and John Smith, who was to be the superintendent of the new concern, as incorpora-tors. When everything was ready, there was still lacking the requisite order. A company was formed to build and own the first iron ship to be constructed in Cleveland. The principal stockholders in the company were Philip Minch, I. W. Nicholas, John N. Glidden, George Washington Jones, Capt. William Pringle and the Globe Ship Building Company. The result of this experiment was the stanch steamer Onoko, which is still sailing, and has been very successful.
The first engineer of the Globe Ship Building Company was Norrnan Wheeler, inventor of the direct acting steam pump. When Mr. Wheeler left the company, J. F. Pankhurst took his place. In 1890 Mr. Wallace, Mr. Coffinberry and Mr. Cowle disposed of their interest in the Globe Iron Works, and a reorganization took place. The new formation left at the Globe Iron Works, as officers, H. M. Hanna, president; John F. Pankhurst, vice-president and general manager; Luther Allen, secretary and treasurer.
In July, 1886, the Globe Iron Works became incorporated under the title of the Globe Iron Works Company with a capital stock of $500,000, and at the same time absorbed the Globe Shipbuilding Company. Since the organization of this company its facilities have been more than quadrupled, so that it now stands second to but one firm in this country.
The yards of the Globe Company are fully equipped with the most modern appliances for rapid work, one of the notable appliances being a three-legged derrick of 100 tons capacity, steam-driven, for placing boilers and machinery in the new hulls.
From its organization, in 1886, the Globe Iron Works Company has launched about 45 large steel freight steamers; also the handsome twin-screw passenger steamer Virginia, for the Goodrich Transportation Company, of Chicago, to ply between Chicago and Milwaukee; the auxiliary ocean-going yacht Comanche; two lighthouse tenders, one for Portland, Maine, and the other for Portland, Ore.; the revenue cutter Walter Q. Gresham, and the large and magnificent twin-screw steamers North West and North Land for the Northern Steamship Company, for service between Buffalo and Duluth. The total output of vessels built by this company reaches the valuation of over ten million dollars.
This company was formed in March, 1888, largely through the efforts of the late William H. Radcliffe, whose big shipyards occupied the site now occupied by the dry docks, and who was the first manager of the enterprise. The original officers were Capt. Thomas Wilson, president; M. A. Bradley, vice-president; H. D. Goulder, treasurer; Gustave Cold, secretary, and William H. Radcliffe, manager. George L. Quayle succeeded Mr. Radcliffe as manager. Shortly after the company was formed the construction of the first dry dock was commenced in the spring of 1888. It was completed May 1, 1889, at a cost of $100,000. It is 330 feet long by 48 feet wide, and supported by a massive bed of concrete. This dock was extended in 1895 to a total length of 430 feet, the new work being 54 feet wide.
The first dock proving insufficient for the business of the company, the construction of a second dock was begun in September, 1890. This dry dock is 300 feet by 45 feet in dimensions, and also cost $100,000. There are two 22-inch submerged centrifugal pumps, which will clear Dock No. I in two and one-half hours, and Dock No. 2 in 45 minutes. In 1897 this extensive plant was sold to the Globe Iron Works Company, which also controlled the Cleveland Dry Dock Company. These two large dock properties were consolidated under one management in 1898.
The management of this company began some years since to consider the advisability of enlarging the plant. After careful consideration it was determined to accept a proposition of the citizens of Lorain to donate the company a tract of land comprising about 22 acres, situated on the east side of the Black river, with a water front of 800 feet. Immediately upon the acquisition of this property, steps were taken to put it in the best possible shape for the use to which it was to be devoted.
The facilities which have been created at Lorain, taken in connection with the engine and boiler works at Cleveland, place this company among the largest ship builders of their time. Full preparation for the construction and repair of steel ships have been made. The introduction of electricity and compressed air, and the substitution of locomotives and traveling cranes, does away with much unskilled labor, and at the same time decrease the cost and saves valuable time in the prosecution of work. The water front has been largely increased by dredging two slips, each 500 feet long by 125 feet in width. A dry dock, the largest on the lakes, has been constructed and has been in operation since the winter of 1897-98; its dimensions are: length 560 feet by 102 feet in width, with gates 66 feet and depth of water in sill 17 feet. The large amount of work done at this yard since its opening assures its proprietors that it is to be a business as well as a mechanical success.
The American Steel Barge Company of West Superior constructs the peculiarly original type of vessel known as the "whaleback" or monitor invented by Capt. Alexander McDougall. In January, 1889, he interested capitalists, after a life-size model had demonstrated the practical side of the theory. The 101, the first of the monitors, was launched in Duluth, in June, 1887, the ends having been built in Wilmington, Del., and the plates for amidships prepared in Cleveland. All were shipped to the yard in Duluth, and put together by Robert Clark. After the organization of the company in New York City, a site for a shipyard was secured on Railroad street, near elevator D, in Duluth, and six other whalebacks followed in quick succession, among them the first steamer Colgate Hoyt.
To accommodate the rapid growth of the shipbuilding industry, in the spring of 1890 the yard at West Superior was established on ground voted to the company by the Northern Steam-ship Company for that purpose. The entire business was transferred to the new yard, and improved plant purchased and work continued on a large scale. The first whaleback launched at the new yard was the steamer Joseph L. Colby. The most famous of the whalebacks constructed at the West Superior yard is the passenger steamer Christopher Columbus. Her keel was laid on September 6, 1892, and she was launched December 3, occupying less than three months in construction. She was taken to Chicago, put into the passenger business, and at once became a favorite with the visitors at the World's Fair in 1893, carrying nearly two million people without the loss of a single life.
During the ten years the American Steel Barge Company has been in existence, it has built fifty vessels of all classes, two of which were built at Brooklyn, N. Y., for the Atlantic coasting trade, one steamer at the company's yard at Everett, Wash., and named in honor of that city, which was put into the trade on the Pacific coast, one in England now running to the Black Sea, the others being built at Duluth and West Superior. The steamer Alexander Mc-Dougall, launched June 25, 1898, is the largest of the whaleback type. She is 430 feet over all, 414 feet keel, 50 feet breadth of beam, and 27 feet molded depth, with a carrying capacity of about 8,000 tons on 18 feet draught. A straight stem has taken the place of the spoon bow or pig nose of the other vessels constructed at this yard. Her engines are quadruple expansion, the cylinders being 19, 28 ½, 28 and 66 by 40 inches stroke.
The company has constructed fifty vessels of all classes, with a total carrying capacity of 143,650 tons on 16 feet draught. In a season the fleet could carry 2,585,700 net tons, or 86,976,648 bushels of wheat.
The shipyard is equipped with the best modern steel plant, including hoisting and conveying machinery for the heaviest class of work, a machine shop for the construction of the largest marine engines, power being furnished by steam, electricity and compressed air. There are five slips with double berths, enabling the company to construct twelve ships at one time, and give employment to from 700 to 1,500 workmen. The dry dock is the largest on the lakes, and will accommodate vessels of 540 feet, and a new dock is under consideration to accommodate vessels of 600 feet. Colgate Hoyt is president of the company.
F. W. Wheeler & Co. have for years conducted at West Bay City, Mich., one of the most important shipbuilding plants on the Great Lakes. The firm name was established in 1876 by a partnership formed between F. W. Wheeler and his father Chesley Wheeler, who had formerly for many years engaged in ship building in New York State and at Saginaw, Mich. The enterprise was modest in its inception, devoted largely to repair work. In 1877 the first boat was launched, the passenger steamer Mary Martini. In 1889 the firm of F. W. Wheeler & Co. was incorporated with a capital stock of $500,000, and with the following officers: F. W. Wheeler, president; H. T. Wicks, vice-president; John S. Porter, treasurer; C. W. Stiver, secretary. Additional frontage was secured on the Saginaw, and a modern steel plant was erected. The passenger steamer, City of Chicago, was the first steel vessel constructed. She was launched in June, 1890. Both wood and steel vessels were built until 1896 when the entire facilities of the yards were applied to steel vessel construction, giving the company a continuous front of 2,500 feet on the Saginaw river, and permitting the simultaneous construction of seven 5oo-feet steel vessels. The yards are equipped with modern appliances, including hoists, cranes, etc. In 1891 there was added a fully-equipped plant for the construction of modern marine engines and machinery. Daring the past 21 years 126 vessels have been built by F. W. Wheeler & Co., many of them of the largest size and most modern type.
The Chicago Shipbuilding Company is the most recent of the large steel shipbuilders. It was organized in 1889, and purchased on the Calumet river, South Chicago, a tract of 21 acres, upon which a thoroughly equipped modern plant was constructed, consisting of a large plate mill, a bending mill equipped with furnaces, blacksmith shops, molding loft, channel and angle shop, fully equipped carpenter shop, paint shop, rigging loft, boiler plant and engine builders, office building, store room, etc. The works were completed in 1891, and in that year the company began to turn out modern steel freighters. The first vessels constructed were the propellers Marina and Masoba, each of 2,432 gross tons.
The first officers of the company were J. F. Pankhurst, president; Luther Allen, vice-president and treasurer; W. I. Bab-cock, manager; J. H. Craig, secretary. In 1892 Messrs. Pankhurst, Allen and Craig retired. Emmons Blaine was elected president; W. F. Cobb, vice-president and O. R. Sinclair, secretary. After the death of Emmons Blaine, W. L. Brown was elected president. There have since been no official changes. The present board of directors consists of president W. L. Brown, vice-president W. F. Cobb, manager W. I. Babcock, H. H. Porter, Norman Williams, C. W. Hillard and Harvey H. Brown.
In 1894 a thoroughly equipped dry dock was added. It is 550 feet in length, and is one of the two largest docks on the lakes. In 1897 there was completed one of the largest machine shops in the West. It is equipped with lathes and various machine tools capable of doing an unusually large class of work. Since its construction the company has built some of the largest engines on the lakes, including the quadruple expansion engines of the Crescent City and W. R. Linn. The plant is provided with steel shears, capable of lifting 80 tons.
At the plant there are three slips 400 feet or more in length, each 100 feet in width, so that the company has facilities for building at one time six large vessels. At the close of 1898 34 vessels had been launched and three were on the stocks. At its organization the company had a capital stock of $350,000, which was increased to $450,000 when the dry dock was constructed. To its capital stock the company has added a comfortable surplus.
Short History of Lake Dry Docks. -- The following brief sketch of lake dry docks is from the Marine Review, of April 23, 1896: The first dry dock constructed on the American side of the Great Lakes was built at Buffalo. In 1836 there was a ship railway at Ohio street, Buffalo, built by Bidwell & Banty. A capstan turned by horses was the power used. In the same city, about the same time, another ship railway was constructed, where the Union dry dock is now located, and operated by steam power. This last was replaced in 1838 by a dry dock large enough to dock any vessel then navigating the lakes. The depth of water on the sill was 8 feet. This dock was enlarged in 1844 and again in 1848 in order to accommodate vessels of increased size.
A ship railway was built in Cleveland, in 1844, by Tisdale & Johnson; a floating dock in 1847, and in 1870 a dry dock was built by Stevens & Presley. This dock was 250 feet long on the blocks with 10 ½ feet of water on the sill. In 1876 this dock was lengthened to 290 feet, and in 1892 the old dock was taken out and the present Cleveland Dry Dock Company's dock built. This dock is 360 feet in length, and has 20 feet of water on the sill. In 1888 the Ship Owners Dry Dock Company, of Cleveland, was organized. The same year they built a dry dock at the head of the old river bed, 340 feet on the blocks with 16 feet of water on the sill. This last dock the company are now lengthening to 440 feet on the blocks, the depth of the entrance remaining the same. This company also owns and operates a dock built in 1890, having an effective length of 300 feet, with 13 ½ feet of water on the sill. The same pumping plant discharges the water from both these docks. [In 1898 the ownership of the Cleveland dry docks was consolidated into one company.]
At Detroit in 1851, Lew, John and Hiram Ives built a dock at a point now known as the foot of Swain avenue. Particulars as to the size of the dock are not available. The second and third docks at Detroit were constructed by John Clark in 1855 and 1857, respectively. These last two docks are still in use. Campbell & Wolven built a dock in 1859, and Campbell & Owen another in 1866. This last mentioned dock was removed, and the principal dock now owned and operated by the Detroit Dry Dock Company was built on its site in 1892.
Port Huron has three docks. The largest, owned by Dunford & Alverson, was built in 1891. At Bay City, Mich., Church & Co. converted the hulk of the once famous passenger steamer Western World into a dry dock in 1871. This dock was operated until 1877, when a ground dry dock was constructed; it having been found that the clay upon which the old hulk rested was firm enough to withstand the pressure of the water, a slip was dug 250 feet long and a gate-way constructed, but no sides or foundation were put in. The only dry dock on the American side of Lake Ontario is located at Oswego. The dock was built in 1865 by George Goble. It is 175 feet long and has ten feet of water over the sill.
At Chicago, Conner in 1848 had a set of ways at Van Buren street, where vessels could be pulled up. In 1848-49 Doolittle & Miller built boxes to raise boats of 300 to 400 tons register. The first dry dock in Chicago was built in 1854-55. George Wicks started the work in 1854, but he sold his interest to Doolittle & Miller, and the dock was completed by them in 1855. This dock is still in use. It is known as Miller Bros.' Dock No. 1, and is located at North Halsted street bridge. Its length is 275 feet and water on sill 8 feet. Miller Bros., successors to Doolittle & Miller, constructed a dock in 1871 -- 72, located alongside their No. I dock. This dock is 310 feet in length, and will admit vessels drawing 14 feet of water. A dock was built at Polk street in 1863, 250 feet long. This dock was lengthened in 1870 to 305 feet and abandoned and filled up about 1888. E. M. Doolittle constructed a dock at an early day on the West side. This dock, now abandoned, was 235 feet long, and would admit boats drawing 12 feet. The dock of the Chicago Ship Building Company at 101st street and Calumet river is one of the latest docks built on the lakes, and is among the largest.
Murphy's dry dock, situated on the Erie canal and the Murphy dry dock slip, Buffalo, was established immediately after the opening of the Erie canal in 1825 by Van Slack & Gillson. Upon the death of the latter in 1858, Mr. Nutter became a member of the firm, and the name became Van Slack & Nutter, which lasted until 1868, when Mr. Van Slack died. His son, John Van Slack, and the bookkeeper of the firm, Albert Haight, then formed a partnership and ran the business until 1875, when Baker & Sons effected a lease of the property and ran the business until 1884, when the present proprietor, William Murphy, leased the property, and has conducted the business ever since. The principal business is the repairing of boats that run on the Erie canal, railroad docks being used for taking the boats out of the water. Mr. Murphy has built a number of canal steamers and consorts.
The Milwaukee Dry Dock Company was formed November 1, 1891, by the consolidation of the Wolf & Davidson Dry Dock Company and the Milwaukee Shipyard Company. In 1897 the docks owned by the company were increased in size as follows: South yard dry dock to 455 feet on keel blocks; west yard dry dock to 312 feet on keel blocks; rudder pits in each dock to unship rudders. In the same year (1897) the efficiency of the plant was further increased by the addition of a plant for the repairing and building of steam vessels. This company now has one of the largest repairing plants on the lakes, and its entire plant also is one of the largest. The officers of the company are W. E. Fitzgerald, president; Fred C. Starke, vice-president; A. M. Joys, secretary and treasurer; W. A. Starke, John B. Merrill, A. M. Joys, Fred C. Starke, C. H. Starke, George C. Markham and W. E. Fitzgerald, directors.
In sketching the growth of navigation on Lake Erie for the first half of the century. James L. Barton said: "In 1810, on Lake Erie, there were about 10 vessels, averaging 60 tons each. In 1820, 30 vessels, of 50 tons each, and one small steamboat. In 1831, 100 vessels, averaging 70 tons each, and 11 steamboats, with an aggregate capacity of 2,260 tons. In 1836, there were owned, on Lake Erie, 45 steamboats, of 9,119 tons, and 217 ships, brigs and schooners, of 16,645 tons. In 1847, there were 67 steamers, 26 propellers, 3 barks, 64 brigs and 340 schooners.
"The sail vessels owned on Lake Erie and the Upper Lakes, in 1847, vary in size from 30 to 350 tons; the largest one being an old steamboat converted into a sail craft. The smaller sized ones are employed in wood, lumber and stone business, and confine their operations principally to rivers and short trips, while the larger ones are employed in freighting produce, merchandise and other property, the whole length of the lakes.
The tonnage of 1846 was 106,830 tons, having nearly doubled in five years, showing an average yearly increase, during that time, of 18 per cent. The total amount of merchandise transported in 1846 was 3,861,098 tons. British tonnage on the lakes was 30,000 tons. The total cost of lake tonnage in 1846 was estimated at $5,341,800. The total number of passengers carried in 1846 was 250,000. The number of mariners was 6,972. The steam tonnage was 60,825; sail tonnage, 46,011.
Above the Falls of Niagara there were, in 1846, 62 steamboats, averaging 101 tons; 18 propellers, averaging 328 tons; 59 brigs and barks, averaging 230 tons; 319 schooners, averaging 152 tons. Below the Falls, on Lake Ontario, there were 8 steamers, averaging 277 tons; 10 propellers, averaging 275 tons; 186 sailing vessels, averaging 114 tons.
In 1848, a half century ago. there were on the entire chain of lakes the following numbers of the different kinds of vessels: 95 steamers with a tonnage of 38,942; 45 propellers, tonnage 14,435; 5 barks, ton-1,645; 93 brigs, tonnage 21,330; 548 schooners, tonnage 71,618, and 128 sloops and scows, tonnage 5,484, making a total tonnage of 153,454.
In 1855 the numbers had grown to the following: 110 steamers, tonnage 57,961; 97 propellers, tonnage 33,732; 33 barks, tonnage 12,839; 101 brigs, tonnage 25,901; 639 schooners, tonnage 97,641, and 216 sloops and scows, tonnage 9,760, total tonnage 237,834.
In 1858, there were on the lakes: United States vessels, 1,194, tonnage 399,443; Canadian vessels, 321, tonnage 59,580. Value of United States tonnage on the lakes, $16,000,000; value of lake commerce, imports and exports, $600,000,000; number of seamen employed, 13,000,
On the northern lakes, at the close of the census year 1880, there were 947 steamers, measuring 222,290 tons, and valued at $13,918,925. They gave employment to 9,143 men, and were paid an average of $360, exclusive of shore help. There were 926,250 regular and excursion passengers carried, and 429,760 ferry passengers.
The freight movement was 4,368,171 tons, exclusive of 318,889,000 feet of lumber. Of the 947 steamers, 141 were passenger steamers, average tonnage 400; 28 ferry steamers, average tonnage 129; 202 freight steamers, average tonnage 689; 426 towing steamers, average tonnage 48; and 150 yachts, average tonnage 18. In 1851 the average tonnage of steamers was 437; in 1880 it was reduced to 235, owing to an increase in the number of tugs and yachts.
In a letter to the publishers, Eugene T. Chamberlain, commissioner of the Bureau of Navigation, says that prior to 1868 collectors of customs reported vessels as sailor steam, classing barges and canal boats under the head of sailing vessels. The above table includes only documented vessels. The large decrease of canal boats from 1875 to 1876 is due to the exemption of such vessels from documents by Act passed April 18, 1874, and its effects became appreciable in the following fiscal year.
Up to 1822 the statistical system of the government was most inaccurate. It is very difficult to find any figures concerning Great Lakes craft before 1816. The statistical report for that year shows that at Genesee there were 127 tons of sailing vessels registered for trade with Canada; at Champlain 800 tons of the same description; and at Oswego a total of 927 tons, part of which was in trade with Canada and part coastwise, making a total for the Great Lakes, reported, of 1,914 tons for that year.
Annual Construction of Vessels. -- The following table, compiled from the records in the office of the Register of the Treasury, shows the number and tonnage of steamboats built on the Northern lakes -- 1816 to 1867:
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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.