John L. Crosthwaite
John L. Crosthwaite, son of William Crosthwaite, obtained his educaton in the public and private schools of Buffalo, graduating in 1872. He first became connected with lake interests as owner of the Catlin, a vessel of about 1,000 tons burden, and as part owner of two others. In 1876 the Catlin was lost, and Mr. Crosthwaite sold his interest in the other two, and from this time on until 1880 he had no connection with the lakes, being engaged as a deputy collector of customs in Buffalo. In the year 1880 he went down unto the Central wharf, which then extended from the foot of Main street west to Lloyd street, and was the center of the commerce of the port. There close to the river stood the Merchants Exchange building - a two-story edifice with a porch all around, which all vessels coming into the port had to pass, and the entire commerce of the port was then transacted within a radius of 300 feet from this building. Here Mr. Crosthwaite in the last year mentioned began the vessel brokerage business in which he has been engaged ever since. In 1883 he bought the Pinch and the Hawk, and soon afterward purchased the Champion, of 556 gross tons, and the Potomac; the schooner Alice B. Norris, of 597 tons; the schooner C.B. Jones, of 470 tons; the steamer Cormorant, of 1,040 tons; and the steamer St. Louis, of 795 tons, net tonnage being understood in each case. It is also generally understood by lake men that the carrying capacity of a vessel is from one-third to one-half greater than the net tonnage, so that the St. Louis, say, had a carrying capacity of at least 1,000 tons. In connection with the history of the St. Louis it is worth to remark that she was the first large vessel to go down to the Niagara Falls Paper Company's plant, which is within two miles of Niagara Falls; and that before the attempt was made to take down so large a load it was considered by most if not all vesselmen to be a dangerous undertaking. However, she made the trip and has repeated it many times since, and other vessels have also gone down the Niagara river to that point in safety.
The original stockholders of the Niagara Falls Paper Company were Messrs. Lewis A. Hall, of Buffalo; J.C. Morgan, of Erie; John L. Norton, of Chicago; and John L. Crosthwaite, of Buffalo. Since the establishment of the company in 1892 the number of stockholders has been largely increased, and the plant is now worth $1,500,000. In December, 1896, Mr. Crosthwaite made a contract with the F.W. Wheeler Shipbuilding Company, of Bay City, Mich., for the construction of a steel steamer to be used in carrying wood pulp from the upper lakes to the works of the above-named company at the Falls. This new vessel, named the Niagara, was launched May 27, 1897, and is the first steel ship made with a wooden bottom, which is constructed of heavy oak timbers, as the wood will stand coming in contact with rocks at the bottom of the lakes better than steel. She is provided with triple expansion engines, and her dimensions are 280 feet keel, 42 feet beam and 20 feet deep, with a carrying capacity of about 4,000 tons. She goes down the river to the Niagara Falls Paper Company's plant, as did the St. Louis before her, and this notwithstanding the many predictions that it was impossible in the case of so large a vessel. The partners of Mr. Crosthwaite in the building of this large steel steamer were Mr. D.O. Mills and Mr. Louis A. Hall, both of New York. Their object in this enterprise is to show that the Niagara river is navigable.
Return to Home Port
This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.