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Historical Materials: Vessel Types

Historical Materials  »  Vessel Types  »  Steamship / Engine-Powered Vessel / Coastal Steamer

Steamship / Engine-Powered Vessel / Coastal Steamer

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (36) »

"Engine-powered vessel" is a collective term used by nautical historians to include all vessel types using engine power of any type for propulsion, whether assisted by sails, oars, or other motive power. In Lane's time, steam reciprocating engines fueled by wood or coal were the only practical source of this power for ships using paddle-wheels or screw propellers to convert heat energy into motion.

For most of the nineteenth century, steamships had sails for auxiliary power; indeed the earliest examples relied principally on sails, using engine power in calm weather to shorten the voyage time or keep to a schedule. As engines became more efficient, powerful, and reliable, sail plans were reduced, to be used only to steady a vessel's motion in a seaway (for the sake of seasick passengers), or to maintain headway if the engine broke down. Only harbor craft, ferry boats, and coastwise passenger steamers relied solely on engine power.

Among Lane's depictions of steamships, the auxiliary steam packet Auxiliary Steam Packet Ship Massachusetts (inv. 442) is a good example of primary reliance on sails, while the steam demi-bark The "Britannia" Entering Boston Harbor, 1848 (inv. 49) and the Cunard Liner "Britannia", 1842 (inv. 259) have relegated sails to secondary (or simply emergency) motive power.

– Erik Ronnberg

Related tables: "Antelope" (Steam Demi-Bark) »  //  "Britannia" (Cunard Steamship) »  //  "Caledonia" (Cunard Steamship) »  //  "Harvest Moon" (Side-Wheel Steamer) »  //  "Massachusetts" (Auxiliary Steam Packet Ship) »  //  "R. B. Forbes" (Tow Boat) »  //  "T. F. Secor" (Steamboat) »  //  "Yacht" (Side-Wheel Steamboat) »  //  Steamers »

artwork
Boston Harbor (detail of steamship)
Fitz Henry Lane
Boston Harbor
1856
Oil on canvas
25 1/2 x 42 1/2 in. (64.8 x 108 cm)
Dated verso: 1856
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Tex. (1977.14)
Steamer Lewiston, at the Wharf, Castine
George E. Collins
Stereograph card
Castine Historical Society Collections (2015.03)

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »   //  Steamers »

model
Harbor ferry "Little Giant"
John Gardner Weld
early 20th century
Wood and metal
Cape Ann Museum (1200)
publication
Boston Directory
George Adams
1848
Published by James French, Boston
Volume 1848-49
Boston Public Library
Call number 39999059856813

See p. 30 of directory.

illustration
Bound to Beat
Serrell & Perkins, Printer and Publisher
c.1851
Cartoon
9 1/4 x 13 3/4 in (23.495 x 34.925 cm)
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Jonny and a Yankee:

Jonny: "Ho my Hi! 'ow she goes!! it his'nt fair I ham sure t'aint!!! She must 'av an engine hunder the keel..."

Yankee: "Where are your yachts now, Jonny? s-a-y- Do you think your wash tubs can come up to a real Yankee Clipper? Sorry for you, Jonny, but it can't be helped... A Yankee Ship a Yankee Crew, you know Jonny."

Patent drawings for paddle wheel steamer
1842
Lithograph
Library of Congress Catalog Number 2002706878

Design of side wheel steamer showing wheel mechanism, side view and cross-section in ten figures. This design proved a failure in the few vessels that employed it. The paddle wheel enclosures filled with water, causing resistance which greatly impaired efficiency and increased fuel consumption.

– Erik Ronnberg

artwork
"T.F. Secor" Passenger Steamship
Unknown
c. 1855
Oil on canvas
Maine Maritime Museum

Also filed under: Castine »

PDF
view ]
publication
The Maine Register for the Year 1855 (Steamer Schedule)
George Adams, publisher
"The Maine Register for the Year 1855, embracing State and County Officers, and an abstract of the law and resolves; together with a complete business directory of the state, and a variety of useful information."

Steamer schedules for 1855, including the schedule for the steamer, "T. F. Secor" which served Castine, see pp. 234–35.

Also filed under: "T. F. Secor" (Steamboat) »   //  Castine »   //  Publications »   //  Steamers »

Citation: "Vessel Types." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/historical_material/index.php?type=Vessel+Types§ion=Steamship+%2F+Engine-Powered+Vessel+%2F+Coastal+Steamer (accessed July 21, 2017).
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