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"McLane" (Cutter; Steam Vessel)

The revenue cutter "McLane" was one of a class of eight steam-powered, iron-hull ships built for the U.S. Revenue Service in the years 1844–48. An experimental class, a variety of steam plants and propulsion devices (paddle wheels, screw propellers) were tried, none of them very successful. Seven of the eight were out of the Revenue Service by 1849, the eighth having been converted to a sails-only bark rig. "McLane," built in 1845, was sold December 1847, becoming a lightship in Louisiana.

W. A. Howard, "McLane’s" commanding officer, was a proponent of the Hunter’s Wheel—a pair of paddlewheels fitted in watertight casings below the waterline—which proved a failure in one of the earlier sister-ships and was removed from the "McLane" prior to her launching and replaced by conventional side-wheels. The vessel was a poor sailer and fitted with defective boilers, so her career in the Revenue Service was ended, rather than attempting to make improvements.

Captain Howard was appointed as the new captain in February of 1846. On April 6 the vessel sailed from Boston; on June 9 the picture was exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum. He probably was proud of his involvement in the "McLane’s" design and machinery, and hence commissioned from Lane the picture of this steamship which he then lent to the Boston Athenaeum exhibition. 

– Erik Ronnberg


Donald L. Canney, U.S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790-1935  (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995), pp. 20, 21.

Related tables: Boston – Boston Athenaeum »  //  Howard, Capt. W. A. »

Citation: "Historical Materials." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. (accessed July 24, 2024).
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