ABOUT RIVERBOAT
BUILDING IN
PITTSBURGH, PA


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Some years ago a site visitor submitted photos of these pages to me.
I honestly do not know from what publication they came.
Due to computer changes over the years, and e-mail changes, I do not even know the name of the good person who submitted them.

If anybody knows where these pages were originally printed, in what publication, please let me know.


Allegheny County's
Boat Building

pg 118
(Cont. from Page 117)

There has been built at Pittsburgh, in all, some fifteen or eighteen iron boats, of which nine were war vessels. Two of these were constructed sit the Fort Pitt Foundry works, famous for its manufacture of Columbaids. Those two were built in 1845. They were each 210 feet keel, 21 feet beam, 17 feet depth of hold, and constructed of iron, varying from one-half to three-sixteenths of an inch in thickness. One of these, the "Jefferson," was constructed at Pittsburgh, taken apart and transported to Oswego, and there put together again and launched. She was perfectly satisfactory in all respects, and cost $180,000, and is still in service. The other was called the "George M. Bibb," after the then Secretary of the Navy. The "Bibb" was launched at Pittsburgh, and went down the Ohio and the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Her cost was $250,000, and she is still in service. Three two were two years in building. The iron revenue cutter "Michigan," now in service on the lakes, was also built at Pittsburgh, being set up complete on the lot at the junction of First and Liberty avenues, now occupied by the First Ward Public School. She was then taken to pieces and transported to the lakes, and there put together and launched. The iron for her construction was furnished from the famous Sligo Mills, of Lyon, Shorb & Co., from their best Juniata blooms, and 350-3/4 tons of this celebrated brand of iron was used in the construction of the vessel. In 1863 two other vessels were built on the ground adjoining the Sligo Mills, of iron furnished from these works. One, the " Manayunk," was a turret ship, armed with two fifteen inch guns. Her length was 224 feet, beam 43 feet 3 inches, depth of hold 12 feet, draught of water 12 feet, and the inside-diameter of her turret 21 feet. This vessel was pronounced by good naval authority as a most admirable boat; in all respects safe to sail in around the world. The other, called the "Umpqua," was a lighter draught, intended for river service, but also a turret vessel, or monitor, as they were popularly called during the war. Her length was 225 feet, with 45 feet beam, 7 feet 10 inches hold, and drew 6 feet 6 inches water. The height of her turret was 9 feet, and its inside diameter 20 feet. She was armed with one eleven inch gun and one one hundred and fifty pounder Parrot rifle gun. There was used in the construction of the "Manayunk" 1,247-1/2 tons of iron, and in that of the "Umpqua" 813 tons. The plates for the turrets of these vessels were inch plates ten times repeated. The iron of the skins or hulls was from three-fourths to one-half inch in thickness. Both these vessels went to sea by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Two other war vessels for the United States navy were also constructed at Pittsburgh about 1845. One was a small revenue cutter called the "Hunter," and the other a second-class frigate called the "Allegheny," both of which went down the Ohio to the ocean, and are still in service. In 1864-5 there was also built for the government, of iron, the " Marietta" and the "Sandusky." In addition to these, several boats for the peaceful uses of commerce have been constructed at Pittsburgh, of iron furnished by her iron mills.

As previously observed, the building of steel boats has been one of the items of the progress that has been made at Pittsburgh in the past decade.

119

To James Rees A Sons, of Pittsburgh, belong the honor of constructing the first steel plate steamboat constructed in the United States; to Hussey, Howe & Co. that of furnishing the steel plates and other steel entering into its construction, and to Pittsburgh mechanics the credit of the work-a noteworthy honor for Pittsburgh enterprise and skill. It is also worthy of note that a company in a foreign country gave the contract to a city of a strong protective tariff nation as in competition with experienced builders of free trade advocating people. It would seem that good wages to workmen, as a result of protection, was far from weakening ability to enter other than home markets with the product of their labor, but rather to the reverse.

This vessel was the Francesco Montoya, and built in 1878 for the Magdalena Steam Navigation Company, of South America.

The boat was 150 feet long, 30 feet beam, and 3 feet hold. The construction of the boat was with angle iron ribs, 18 inches apart, and angle iron deck beams and steel plated hull. She was constructed with nineteen water-tight compartments.

While the boat was constructing, the parties for whom it was being built were constantly protesting against the use of steel instead of iron, alleging that she would be liable to snap and break in two when landing hard, or if striking a rock or bar. With an unflinching confidence in Pittsburgh steel and the work of the firm furnishing the plates, the builders guaranteed the result. Their faith in Pittsburgh work was fully sustained in several instances of the accidents feared. In the rapids of the Magdalena river during a freshet, while the boat was going down stream, the engine and rudder had no control of the movements of the vessel, and she was thrown upon some rocks while running at the rate of thirty miles an hour, as the captain and engineers reported to the owners. The shock broke nineteen of the iron ribs and bent some of the steel plates from six to eight inches, but there was not a hole punctured and but little leakage.

There was also built for the same company, in 1879, the "Victoria," 157 feet long, 33-1/2 feet beam, 4-1/2 feet hold; also the "Roberta Calisto," 110 feet long, 22 feet beam, 3 feet hold; also, steamer "Comnta, 130 feet long, 30 feet beam, and 3 feet hold.

These boats were all erected here, then taken apart and shipped to their destination in pieces, a couple of skilled men being sent to superintend the construction of the boats on the Magdalena river, employing the native labor in the work. That Pittsburgh shops pack nails in kegs, steel and bar iron in bundles, and ship to distant ports; tumblers and other glass ware in boxes to Europe, reflectors and electric light apparatus to Japan, and a score of other descriptions of her manufactures to many foreign parts, is of so constant occurrence as to have lost novelty. That a whole steel steamboat should, however, be packed like so much tin plate and thus delivered to the purchasers is a matter of singular interest. Verily great is Pittsburgh and skillful her workmen. In 1880 was built the steamer "Venezula," constructed entirely of steel, being the first in which steel was used in place of angle iron. Since then has been constructed the steamer "Columbia" and steamer "America," of the same dimensions as the Venezula; also, in 1881, the steamer

(Cont. on pg. 120)

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Pittsburgh, Pa
Boat Building Pages
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