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Historical Materials: Vessels (Specific / Named)

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"Southern Cross" (Clipper Ship)

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The medium clipper ship "Southern Cross" was built in 1851 by E. and H.O. Briggs at their shipyard in South Boston for the shipping firm of Baker & Morrill of Boston. She was named for what her owners regarded as the most beautiful constellation in the Southern Hemisphere. Recent claims that the Briggs yard was in East Boston are not supported by a very detailed contemporary newspaper account (very likely The Boston Atlas), which gave South Boston as the yard's location.

"Southern Cross" experienced more than her fair share of adversity, with contrary winds, dismastings, and a fire, preventing her from making the quick passages her owners expected. Her career ended abruptly when the Confederate cruiser "Florida" captured and burned her in June, 1863.

– Erik Ronnberg


Octavius T. Howe, and Frederick C. MatthewsAmerican Clipper Ships: 1833–1858 (Salem, MAMarine Research Society1927).

Related tables: Ship (Full-Rigged) »

Clipper card - Southern Cross
19th century
Peabody Essex Museum (MSS0760)
Glidden and Williams sailing announcement
Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Announcement of the departure of the "Southern Cross," bound for San Francisco, requesting shippers to deliver their cargo to the ship.

Model of "Southern Cross"
Robert I. Innis
Ship model
38 in (96.52 cm)
Peabody Essex Museum (m12603)
Simpson's Patent Drydock
M. M. Tidd
Tinted lithograph with hand coloring
13 7/8 x 22 3/8 in.
Boston Athenaeum

From Sally Pierce and Catharina Slautterback, Boston Lithography, 1825–1880: The Boston Atheneaum Collection (BostonAthenaeum1991): "Tidd drew this print when he was a consulting engineer for Simpson's. He has depicted the clipper ship 'Southern Cross' in the dry dock. Built in 1851, she was known for having sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong in the record breaking time of thirty-two days. The Bethlehem Ship Building Company eventually took over this location and operated a dry dock there until the mid 1940s."

Citation: "Vessels (Specific / Named)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum.§ion=%22Southern+Cross%22+%28Clipper+Ship%29 (accessed March 17, 2018).
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