The Early Days of Trans-Atlantic Navigation

AFTER a thorough review and inspection of the following publications, the writer finds that there were actually but two sets of steamships in the Inman Line named City of New York and City of Paris, and that they were the only two ships so named in the transatlantic service: "Bureau Veritas," of Paris and New York, first volume, dated 1828; "Registry of American Shipmasters' Association"; "American Record of Foreign Shipping," first issue in 1867. All three are in the Chamber of Commerce Library—complete sets from 1873 to date for the first two, and to 1899 for the last named, from which date the American work—66 Beaver Street—continues.

The first City of New York, built by Tod & McGregor in 1865, was originally intended to be named Delaware, as stated in the record of "Bureau Veritas" (17 State Street); but whether the name was changed before launching or after does not appear. The record reads: "City of New York—ex Delaware;" and this designation was in later years adopted in the "American Shipmasters' Association" volumes until the steamer's publication was discontinued in that work.

In the first installment of this theme, which appeared in the December number of The American Marine Engineer, the writer was led to think that possibly there were three sets of steamers of the names, but the first two were iron ships and lasted well in the service until followed by the second pair of very much larger and more powerful vessels in 1888-89; owing, also, to some unavoidable differences in the records as to "gross" and "net" tonnage and in the captains' names. The Paris work contains both gross and net tonnage, as does the "American Record," though not always agreeing, yet with their copious, technical and elaborate compilations, are most valuable as a treasury of shipping information and commercial data.


The City of Manchester (1,894 tons net) was probably the first and initial ship of the "Cities" steamers, and was built at Glasgow in 1856—"McGregor," only, in the record. She was a side-wheel or "paddle" steamer, three decks, iron hull, while all m the others of the Inman Line following her were propellers. This steamer was consigned to John G. Dale, New York, and hailed from Glasgow, showing at the very beginning that the Inman Line was part United States and part Great Britain ownership—an American-English marine corporation. The City of Manchester was the first English named "City" of the fleet built.

The City of Baltimore was consigned to the Liverpool and Philadelphia SS Co., and the builders given as Tod & McGregor—the first time that the full name of this firm is announced in the "American Lloyd's" (New York Public Library). The City of Dublin (1,996 tons net) was built in Glasgow and evidently by the same firm, but name not in the record; and this steamer is also consigned to the ownership of the New York, Liverpool and Philadelphia S. S. Co. She hailed from Liverpool and no doubt was of the Inman Line (William Inman & Co., Liverpool).

The City of Limerick (1,603 tons net) hailed from Glasgow and was consigned to the same ownership, but styled New York, Philadelphia & Liverpool S. S. Co.

The City of London (2,447 tons net), Captain Morehouse, or Meirhouse, was also built on the Clyde and presumably by Tod & McGregor, with Liverpool as home port. She was consigned to the New York & Liverpool S. S. Co All of these steamers belonged to the Inman Line of Liverpool and New York, John G. Dale, United States agent, 15 Broadway, New York, as appears conclusively in the shipping announcement on the first page of the New York Herald of April, May and June, 1869, and of other papers. In the Herald of May 4th is this advertisement:

Inman Line Advertisement 1869

This statement gives the extent of the business at that time and it shows two steamers leaving on the same day—an unusual occurrence in any transatlantic line—and indicates an early rush of European tourists that season.


The speed of mail and passenger ships in 1869-70 was barely up to the ten-day limit, except with the Scotia of the Cunard Line—a grand old-time side-wheel steamer—commanded latterly by Captain Judkins, commodore of the fleet for many years, and until he retired with his famous ship.

On June 8th the Scotia got in from Liverpool in ten days. Steamship Scotia (Br.), Judkins, Liverpool, May 29, via Queenstown, 30, with merchandise and passengers, to E. Cunard. Arrived on the 7th.

The City of Baltimore took two days more. The City of Limerick, 17 days from Antwerp; left May 26; New York, June 12. On June 14th the Hecla, of the Cunard Line, arrived with 645 passengers; left Liverpool, June 1. The City of London, Captain Leitch, had 1,182 passengers; left Liverpool June 3, Queenstown the next day, and arrived on the 15th. The Cuba of the Cunard Line left Liverpool on June 5 and arrived on the 16th—eleven days, which was also the time of the Java on her September passage to New York that year. At this date the Cunard Company advertised the following list:

"Siberia, Scotia, China and Cuba. Passage money payable in gold. $130 cabin; to Paris, $145. Second cabin to Liverpool, $80. E. Cunard, 4 Bowling Green."

That address was on the historical site of the new Custom House, and the Anchor Line and German Lines were further along in other old-time brick residences of that row, which were once the fashionable homes of New York's elect.


While the Scotia held the record from Liverpool, a smart new steamer of about 3,000 tons gross—the Hermann—showed a creditable speed from Bremen, June 5th, with 814 passengers, to Oelrich& Co. She arrived at Sandy Hook, June 18th, 11 p. m. The writer was at Southampton on June 6th, when the Hermann called there for the mail and recollects her resplendent appearance of brass and copper, which glistened in the mid-day sunlight, while she waited for the mail to come aboard for New York.

The side-wheeler Fulton from New York, of the North American S. S. Co., Captain A. G. Jones, had arrived on the same morning and the writer was a passenger. She left New York, May 24th; thirteen days. He noticed that while the Propeller Hermann—a beautiful new ship—attracted no particular attention, the side-wheel old-timer was much talked about—her pretty yacht-like proportions showing to advantage as she swung broadside on with the ever changing tides of that picturesque harbor.

Fine propellers were an everyday affair, but a genuine Yankee side-wheeler just in from New York was a novelty; and while on the train to London an English home missionary, having charge of Bethel Mission in Whitechapel for Seamen's Children, introduced himself to the writer with praise for the fine lines of the Fulton and invited him to visit Bethel Mission in London, which cordial invitation he accepted and verified a few days later.

This incident shows how a marine novelty will interest even a missionary who knows ships and who in this instance was rowed around the Fulton "just to get a complete view of her" as he said. But the writer was wondering why the Hermann was not spoken of just the same.

The log of Captain Wencke is given and is of interest: "June 8th, 5 p. m., passed ship Jo henna from Bremen for New York. Same day steamship Weser, New York, bound East. On the 16th an Inman steamer bound East; on the 17th the Cunard steamship Scotia, bound East; 18th, a wreck, apparently a large ship loaded with timber, lying on her beam ends—full of water. New York Pilot Boat No. 19 went to her. Same day steamship Donau, bound East."

The next time this writer saw the Hermann was at New Orleans on her arrival with 600 German immigrants. That was in the fall of 1870 or '71.

She probably continued in that service, as she was not too large for the depth of water at the Southwest Pass of that day; and a right handy steamer for the 100 miles of river navigation to and from the Crescent City.

A steamer of the same name has been running to the ports of the German Archipelago of late years and probably it is the same vessel of the Norddeutscher Lloyd Line in the South Seas and Far East service. "


Another notable arrival may be included of a right good ship—the Minnesota, of the Williams & Guion Line. She left Liverpool, April 20, and arrived on May 4th with 1,183 passengers—a heavy list for those days.

In the afternoon the Fulton moved up to the coal docks, where her bunkers were filled, and she then continued on to Stettin and Copenhagen, where a full list of passengers awaited her.

This fine old American steamship (oscillating engines) was broken up long ago. George Wright was chief engineer. The Peruvian Government bought the Arago, and she is probably still afloat in those waters.

Reported: "May 1—Cunard steamer, bound East; steamship Manhattan, bound West; an Anchor Line steamer, bound East; same day an Inman steamship, bound East."

The Colorado, Idaho and Wisconsin of this line will be recollected by the traveling public as excellent and comfortable vessels, splendidly officered and crewed. The next voyage of this ship has the following log in the Herald:

"Steamship Minnesota (Br.), Price, Liverpool, June 2, via Queenstown, 3d, with merchandise and 1,238 passengers, to Williams & Guion. Arrived off the Lightship, June 14, at 11 a. m., but was detained 10.5 hours by fog. June 5, lat 51, Ion. 20, spoke steamship Colorado, hence for Liverpool; 9th, lat. 44-2°, Ion. 47, brig. Nicahus (Dutch), bound East; same day, lat. 44.36, City of Paris, hence for Liverpool; 12th, lat 41.30, Ion. 63, a brig-rigged steamship, bound East; same day, lat. 41.25, Ion. 63.30, saw a Cunard steamship, bound East; 13th, lat. 41, Ion. 68, steamship Ville de Paris, hence for Havre; same day, off Nantucket, steamship Britannica hence for Glasgow, and Louisiana, hence for Liverpool."

The Idaho, of the same line, Captain Cutting, arrived on the 8th of June with 1,187 passengers. Left Liverpool, May 26, and arrived off the Lightship, June 6, at 9 o'clock p. M.--twelve days—a good average passage. Her log is also of interest, passing five steamships and ship and bark.

The Belle de Paris, above spoken of, should be classed with the fast vessels of that date. She belonged to the General Transatlantic Company, the only direct line to France, between New York and Havre, calling at Brest" . . .

The splendid vessels on this favorite route for the Continent will sail from Pier 50, North River; Ville de Paris, Lafayette, St. Laurent, Pererier; George Mackenzie, agent, 58 Broadway."

The first cabin to Brest or Havre was $140, "including wine." "No steerage passengers." 'Second cabin, $85. To Paris, including railway ticket, $145, first cabin; $88, second cabin."

The captains were: "Surmont, Roussau, Duchesne and Lemarie." The Ville de Paris came over from Havre, Surmont commanding, May 22, arrived June 2.

Steamship Java, Captain Cook, exactly the same date, from Liverpool, Steamship Holsatia, Captain Ehlers, from Hamburg, May 19, and Havre, 22, with merchandise and 779 passengers, to Kunhardt & Co. These three steamers were pretty evenly matched and they had fine weather. The Scotia, still the leading vessel, however, of that period.

The National Line was also a favorite one and the steamship Erin, Captain Webster, from Liverpool, on the 16th also arrived on this date. "Within 22 miles of Sandy Hook, 3 p. m., May 1, but on account of strong E. N. E. gale and thick weather reached off to the eastward."

Here is another arrival, the "steamship Kangaroo, Captain Halcow, Liverpool, April 14th, with merchandise and passengers, to John G. Dale." Another to a well-known and long established New York shipping house:

"Steamship Cella Gleadell, London, April 10, via Havre, 14th, with merchandise and 526 passengers, to Howland & Aspinwall. Had strong westerly wind the entire passage; about 10 miles S. E. of Scilly passed a newly coppered vessel—bottom up—about 160 feet long."

This completes the European arrivals of May 4th, and it is fairly an exhibit of those early days when the Atlantic Ferry was yet in th*. beginning. But the freight, the mails and the passengers were in evidence a-plenty as to-day; and withal, the dark side of ocean experiences—wrecks and derelicts along the "lanes" East and West—the same as to-day.

To be as authentic as possible for early records—the books of which, in some publications, have singularly disappeared, and impossible to duplicate them, the first records of the City of New York and City of Paris are taken from "Bureau Veritas," 17 State Street, and "American Shipmasters' Association," which has been continued or succeeded by the "American Bureau of Shipping," 66 Beaver Street.

The French work could not have been subject to outside influence in any way and did not include vessels of other nations until they had first been "classed," there being no rival steamship lines to speak of between France and the United States in those years previous to 1870 or thereabouts; the New York and Havre line comprising the wood side-wheel steamships Fulton, Captain Wootten, and the Arago, Captain Gadsden, sailing every two weeks in the sixties; and the French Line being the only direct main steamers; although a considerable fleet of sailing vessels began in 1845—about—and were engaged in exporting of flour, bacon, grain and provisions generally, the late Colonel Edward Hincken, who was three times elected president of the New York Produce Exchange, being the shipping agent here of several vessels in the export trade to Havre for many years.

In that work (Paris, French and English), volume of 1873—in the Chamber of Commerce set—is this of the City of New York, ex Delaware, Captain Lochead [latest commander]: 3,499 gross tons; 2,380 net; 3 masts; 350 horse-power; British flag; proportion of beam to length, 1/2; same to depth, 10 1/2. Built at Glasgow by Tod & McGregor, 1865. Iron screw steamer; 8 compartments; spar deck; length, 375.2; breadth, 39.6; depth, 25.8 to the main deck; 33.00 feet "molded," or full depth. William Inman & Co., owners; John G. Dale, agent.

The City of Paris had been afloat seven years with another, of several other masters in command since 1871, when Captain Kennedy is recorded as having taken the new steamship City of Montreal on her launching that year; Captain Muirhouse probably succeeding him and being master in 1872-3 as recorded, with Captain Leitch before him probably.

But it is positive that Captain Kennedy took her out on her first voyage and was in command, as recorded by American Lloyd's of 1866 in the Public Library, up to the year above stated, and not Captain Leitch, as published in the December number of this magazine by oversight, as it was marked out in the proof, but got into the page form in making up the "dummy."

Also from "Bureau Veritas," volume of 1873: "City of Paris, Captain Muirhouse; 3 masts; 3,084 gross tons; 1,975 net; 550 horse-power; British flag; built in 1866, in Glasgow, by Tod & McGregor. Proportion of beam to length, 10; to depth, 15; of iron: Screw steamer; 8 compartments. Length, 397.7; breadth, 40.04; depth, 18.8 to main deck; 26.2 "molded" or full depth. Spar deck."


The depth in "Bureau Veritas" is given, but not the draft. There are two measurements of depth—first to the main deck, which for the City of New York was 25.8; second, to the bottom of the hold—the "molded" or full depth—33 feet. The same for the City of Paris was 18.8 and 26.2, respectively.

Both ships had three decks and spar deck. The signal numbers they sailed under were 125 and 126 respectively. The first was ship rigged and her draft (Am. Ship Assn.) was 21 feet.

She had direct horizontal engines; cylinders, 63 inches; stroke of piston, 3 feet 4 inches; 8 compartments or bulkheads; surveyed in New York, April, 1866. Class 1. Last survey, February, 1879, at New York.

The deck depth of the first ship was 8 feet more than that of the sister ship and would seem to indicate that it was for the Delaware and the service contemplated for the steamer under that name.

The inference again is. that she was completed for that name, but after launching was bought and renamed City of New York in 1865; therefore had no actual existence in service under any other name and in no other company than that of the Inman Line.

The City of Paris, built the year following, was of different design, and, although a smaller vessel, drew 22 feet; but having 200 horse-power more than the first steamer, her engines and boilers would account for her 1 foot more draft, assuming that both measurements applied to the completed vessels ready for coaling and stores.

Captain Kennedy, the indomitable, made the reputation of the Inman Line by rushing this steamer while in command of her, as stated from recollections by the writer and fully verified by the ship news records of the newspapers quoted. In the American Lloyd's of 1866 his name appears as commander on first voyage.

The British Lloyd's of the same year would no doubt have it also, but the volume is out of existence in the New York office, 17 Battery Place, and not in the Public Library.


The secret of the greater speed of the City of Paris was not only in her more improved design, but mostly due to her 200 horse-power increase, while her tonnage was less; and this superiority of engine equipment was given to the second ship of the name—now the famous "sea post" steamer Paris-Philadelphia, of the American Line, in the International Mercantile Marine.

To make clear and sure about the two present ships of the former Inman Line, the records are taken from the "American Bureau of Shipping," 66 Beaver Street, before mentioned, which work includes foreign vessels also, and dates originally from 1867, when the first volume was issued. Therefore is nothing more apropos of the famous ships now and for 18 years under the United States flag and "sea post" ships rate.


Glancing over the ship news column of the New York Tribune on Friday morning, January 5th, to see how the Lusitania was making out on her first passage this year, the following wonders of science were noted:


The Lusitania,reported as 193 miles east of Sandy Hook at 3.20 P. M. yesterday, is expected to dock this forenoon.

La Touraine, reported as 1,105 miles east of Sandy Hook at 8.45 A. M. yesterday, is expected to dock late Saturday evening or Sunday forenoon.

The Baltic, reported as 1,265 miles east of Sandy Hook at 10 A. M, yesterday, is expected to dock Sunday afternoon.

The Pennsylvania, reported as 193 miles east of Sandy Hook at 9 A. M. yesterday, is expected to dock that forenoon.

The Breslau, reported as 193 miles east of Sandy Hook at 1 P. M. yesterday, is expected to dock this forenoon.

As this reporting far in advance of arrival is of everyday occurrence almost, it ceases to impress the mind as wondrous, yet it is wondrous, nevertheless, and makes life more interesting and worth living to those who appreciate its great advantages.

JAN. 4, 1912

Steamer Muncaster Castle (Br.), Manila October 24. Cebu November 8, Singapore 10, Suez 20, Port Said 30, Algiers December 8 and Boston January 2, to William H. Tweddie & Co., with mdse. Arrived at the Bar at 11.30 P. M., 3d.

Steamer New York, Southampton and Cherbourg December 27 and Queens town 27, to the American Line, with 45 first cabin, 47 second cabin and 152 steerage passengers, malls and mdse.

Arrived at the Bar at 7.86 A. M. 19,Trinidad 20, Savanilla 23, Cartagena 24, Colon 27, Kingston 30 and Antilla 31, to Sanderson & Son. with 41 passengers, mails and mdse. Arrived at the Bar at 9 A. M.

From Queenstown this passage of the New York counts 7 days or less; and at this season of the year is quick and clever, even for ships of the latest build. In brief, the second ship of the name does it in about half the time required by the first during the winter months, which is that much accomplished in the last decade of advancement in model, in engine and propeller equipment and in strong financial backing.

"In the Early Days of Trans-Atlantic Navigation," No. 2, The American Marine Engineer, New York, Volume VII, No. 3, March 1912, Pages 18-20.

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