Steam Navigation by James Croil, 1898

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"first American built vessel on Lake Erie was the schooner Washington.
"...built near Erie, Pa., in 1797. After plying on Lake Erie one season,
she was sold to a Canadian and carried on wheels around the Falls to Lake
Ontario, where she sailed from Queenston for Kingston in 1798 as a British
vessel, under the name of Lady Washington." pp. 246-7 of Steam Navigation
by James Croil, 1898.


"The Americans built another steamer at Sackett's harbour in 1818, the
Sophia, of 70 tons, to run as a packet between that port and Kingston. In
that year also the Canadians built their second lake steamer, the Queen
Charlotte. She was built at the same place as the Frontenac, and largely
from material which had not been used in the construction of that vessel.
She was launched on the 22nd of April, 1818, and was soon ready to take her
place as the pioneer steamer on the Bay of Quinte. The Queen Charlotte was
a much smaller boat than the Frontenac. Her machinery was made by the
brothers Ward, of Montreal, and she seems to have plied very successfully
for twenty years from Prescott to the :'Carrying Place' at the head of the
Bay of Quinte, where passengers took stage to Cobourg and thence proceeded
to York by steamer. She was commanded at first by Captain Richardson, then
for a short time by young Captain Mosier, and afterwards, to the end of her
career, by Captain Gildersleeve, of Kingston. She was finally broken up in
Cataraqui Bay;" pp. 247-250


The first American built vessel on Lake Erie was the schooner Washington. 
"...built near Erie, Pa., in 1797. After plying on Lake Erie one season, she
was sold to a Canadian and carried on wheels around the Falls to Lake Ontario,
where she sailed from Queenston for Kingston in 1798 as a British vessel, under
the name of Lady Washington." pp. 246-7

"The first Canadian steamer to navigate any of these waters was the
Frontenac, built at Finkle's Point, eighteen miles above Kingston, by
Teabout & Chapman, of Sackett's Harbour, for a company of shareholders
belonging to Kingston, Niagara, Queenston, York and Prescott. The Frontenac
was launched on September 7th, 1816. Her length over all was 170 feet, and
her registered tonnage, 700 tons. She cost nearly £20,000 currency. The
engines were made by Watt & Boulton, of Birmingham, England, and cost about
£7,000. The Frontenac was said to be the best piece of naval architecture
then in America, and her departure on her first voyage was considered a
great event-"she moved off from her berth with majestic grandeur, the
admiration of a great number of spectators." Her maiden trip for the head
of the lake was commenced on June 5, 1817. Her regular route was from
Prescott to York (Toronto) and back, once a week. She was commanded as long
as she was afloat by Captain James Mackenzie, a gallant sailor who had
previously served in the Royal navy. The Frontenac eventually became the
property of the Messrs. Hamilton, of Queenston. She was maliciously set on
fire by some miscreants while lying at her wharf at Niagara in 1827, and
was totally destroyed." pp. 247-8

The American ship, Ontario, was built at Sackett's Harbour, N.Y., 110 feet
long, 24 feet wide and 8½feet in depth, measuring 240 tons. "The Ontario made
her first trip in April, 1817, thus establishing her claim of precedence in 
sailing the lakes. She was built under a grant from the heirs of Robert Fulton.
On her first trip she encountered considerable sea, which lifted the paddle-wheels,
throwing the shaft from its bearings and destroying the paddle-boxes. This defect
in her construction having been remedied, she was afterwards successful, it is
said, but her career is not recorded." p.248
"The Americans built another steamer at Sackett's harbour in 1818, the Sophia, 
of 70 tons, to run as a packet between that port and Kingston. In that year also 
the Canadians built their second lake steamer, the Queen Charlotte. She was built 
at the same place as the Frontenac, and largely from material which had not been 
used in the construction of that vessel. She was launched on the 22nd of April, 
1818, and was soon ready to take her place as the pioneer steamer on the Bay of 
Quinte. The Queen Charlotte was a much smaller boat than the Frontenac. Her 
machinery was made by the brothers Ward, of Montreal, and she seems to have 
plied very successfully for twenty years from Prescott to the :'Carrying Place' 
at the head of the Bay of Quinte, where passengers took stage to Cobourg and 
thence proceeded to York by steamer. She was commanded at first by Captain 
Richardson, then for a short time by young Captain Mosier, and afterwards, to 
the end of her career, by Captain Gildersleeve, of Kingston. She was finally 
broken up in Cataraqui Bay;" pp. 247-250
"The first steamer on Lake Erie was the Walk-in-the-Water, built at Black 
Rock, near Buffalo, by one Noah Brown, and launched May 28th, 1818. She was 
schooner-rigged, 135 feet in length, 32 feet beam and 13 feet 3 inches deep: 
her tonnage was 383 60/95 tons. Her machinery was brought from Albany, a 
distance of three hundred miles, in wagons drawn by five to eight horses each. 
She left Black Rock on her first voyage August 25th, and reached Detroit, 290 
miles, in 44 hours 10 minutes. 'While she could navigate down stream, her power 
was not sufficient to make headway against the strong current of the Niagara 
River. Resort was therefore made to what was known in the early days as a 
'horned breeze.' The Walk-in-the-Water was regularly towed up the Niagara River 
by a number of yokes of oxen, but once above the swift current she went very 
well. She made regular trips between Black Rock and Detroit, occasionally going 
as far as Mackinac and Green Bay on Lake Huron, until November, 1821, when she 
was driven ashore near Buffalo in a gale of wind and became a total wreck. Her 
engines, however, were recovered and put in a new boat named the Superior, in 
1822." pp. 251-2
"In 1841 the first lake propeller was launched at Oswego. This was the Vandalia, 
of 160 tons, said to be the first freight boat in America to make use of 
Ericsson's screw propeller. She made her first trip in November, 1841, and 
proved entirely successful. In the spring of 1842 she passed through the 
Welland Canal, and was visited by large numbers of people in Buffalo, who 
were curious to see this new departure in steam navigation, and the result 
was that two new propellers were built in that year at Buffalo, the Sampson 
and the Hercules." p. 252
"The year 1836 marks an important era in the navigation of the Great Lakes, 
for in that year the first cargo of grain from Lake Michigan arrived at Buffalo, 
brought by the brig John Kenzie from Grand River . It consisted of three thousand 
bushels of wheat. Previous to that date the commerce of the lakes had been all 
westward, and, curiously enough, the cargoes carried west consisted for the most 
part of flour, grain and other supplies for the new western settlements. In 1840 
a regular movement of grain from west to east had been established. In the early 
years of the grain trade the loading and unloading of vessels was a very slow 
and irksome business. As much as two or three days might be required to unload 
a cargo of 5,000 bushels. In the winter of 1842-43 the first grain elevator 
was built at Buffalo, and a new system of handling grain introduced which was 
to prove of incalculable benefit to the trade. The schooner Philadelphia, of 
123 tons, was the first to be unloaded by the elevator." pp. 253-4
"The Canadian steam traffic on Lake Erie commenced with the steamers Chippewa 
and Emerald, plying between Chippewa and Buffalo; the Kent, which foundered 
in 1845; the Ploughboy, owned by a company in Chatham, and the Clinton, owned 
by Robert Hamilton, of Queenston. A much larger Canadian steam traffic developed 
on Lake Huron. One of the earliest passenger steamers on the Georgian Bay was 
the Gore, of 200 tons, built at Niagara in 1838, and called after the 
Lieutenant-Governor of that name. That boat, which had plied for some years 
between Niagara and Toronto, was placed on the route between Sturgeon Bay and 
Sault Ste. Marie. On Lake Huron proper, the Bruce Mines was probably the 
earliest Canadian steamer. She was employed in carrying copper ore from the 
Bruce mines to Montreal, and was wrecked in 1854. Shortly after, on the 
completion of the Northern Railway, in 1854, the company, with a view to 
developing their interests, entered into a contract with an American line 
of steamers to run from Collingwood to lake Michigan ports tri-weekly and 
once a week to Green Bay. In 1862 six large propellers were put on the route. 
Later, a line of firstclass passenger steamers began to ply twice a week 
from Collingwood and Owen Sound to Duluth at the head of Lake Superior. Among 
the steamers of that line, which became very popular, were the Chicora, Francis 
Smith, Cumberland, and Algoma. These in turn were superseded by the magnificent 
steamers of the Canadian Pacific and other lines elsewhere referred to." 
pp. 254-5
"In the earliest records of the navigation of this lake, [Superior] a 
brigantine named the Recovery, of about 150 tons, owned by the North-West 
Fur Company, is mentioned as being one of the first to sail on Lake Superior, 
about the year 1800. It is said that during the war of 1812, fearing that she 
might be seized by the Americans, her spars were taken out and her hull was 
covered up by branches and brushwood in a sequestered bay till peace was 
proclaimed. She was then taken from her hiding-place and resumed her beat 
on the lake until about 1830, when she was run over the Sault Ste. Marie 
rapids and placed in the lumber trade on Lake Erie, under the command of 
Captain John Fallows, of Fort Erie, Canada West." p. 256 "In 1835 the John 
Jacob Astor, accounted a large vessel in her time, was built on Lake Superior 
for the American Fur Company, and placed in command of Captain Charles C. 
Stanard, who sailed her until 1842, when Captain J.B. Angus became master and 
remained in charge of her until she was wrecked at Copper Harbour in September, 
1844." p. 256

"The twin-screw propeller Independence, Captain A.J. Averill, of Chicago,
was the first steamer seen on Lake Superior. This vessel, rigged as a
fore-and-aft schooner, was about 260 tons burthen, and was hauled over the
Sault Ste. Marie rapids in 1844. Her route of sailing was on the south
shore of the lake. Another propeller, the Julia Palmer, was in like manner
dragged up the Ste. Marie rapids in 1846, and was the first steamer to sail
on the north shore. At intervals other steamers were taken up the rapids,
among which were the propellers Manhattan, Monticello, and Peninsular, and
the side-wheel steamers Baltimore and Sam Ward." p. 257

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