The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, November 01, 1890, Image 12

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    lies the solution of this problem. Let us not for
get that the sun still shines above these threaten
ing clouds, that a just God still presides over the
destinies of men. Walter M. Camp.
Ship building since the trial trips of the first
steamboat on the Hudson river, has been re
markable for its growth and great variety of im
provements in construction.
It was in 1807, as every school boy acquaint
ed with United States history knows, that the
first attempt to apply steam to water navigation
was made. The Clermont was the first boat pro
pelled by steam, and Robert Fulton was the in
ventor and experimenter. She was a success
without an apology.
Her trial trip from the Jersey to the New York
side of the East River attracted an incredulous
crowd, which had assembled to laugh, but
subsequently was moved to wonder and applause.
On her trips up and down the Hudson she aver
aged a speed of about five miles an hour.
Fulton had a very obscure picture of the future
when he said of his invention: “Although the
prospect of personal emolument has been some
inducement to me, yet I feel infinitely more pleas
ure in reflecting on the immense advantage that
my country will derive from the invention.”
In 1814 the United States’ government author
ized the construction of a steam frigate, one of
Fulton’s ideas. She was launched in the same
year, the 27th day of October, and on July 4,
1815, she made fifty-three miles in eight hours.
This was the United States first step towards
establishing a steam navy.
Fulton died on the 24th day of February, 1815.
The first Ocean Steamship was launched at New
York, August 22, 1818—the Savannah. Her
trial trip from New York to Savannah was ac
complished in seven days. She left for Liver
pool soon after, arriving in twenty-five days
Savannah, being the first steamship that ever
crossed the Atlantic.
You will notice the fact that the first river
steamer and first ocean steamer were both built
in New York.
In 1838 two foreign ocean steamers entered
New York. The Britannia, the first Cunarder to
cross the ocean, made the port of Boston on the
18th day of July, 1840, after a voyage of fourteen
days and eight hours. It was in 1850 that the
Great Eastern was launched on the Thames,
a vessel whose huge dimensions made it prac
tically useless.
Let us not overlook Ericsson, who in the War
of the Rebellion, built his Monitor and defeated
the rebels’ Merrimac in her own waters, thus
opening the way for the Union’s preservation.
In the construction of ships the Americans
have always lead in making improvements. The
American builder displaced the round, blunt
prows of the English model with one sharply cut.
When iron was substituted for wood in the ma
terial used in building boats some doubted its
general adaptability. You remember what Liv
ingtonc said in his book on African travels. He
was putting together a small iron steamer on the
banks of one of the rivers in that territory, and
the natives stood around and jeered him, telling
him it would certainly sink. By utilizing iron
in ship building we have lighter, stronger and,
in the water-tight compartments, safer ships.
Other factors that have been powerful in revo
lutionizing the modes of primeval steamship
navigation are the round bottom keel hull; the
propeller or screen, doing away with paddles or
sidewheels, making a neater and handier vessel,
sharper “lines,” triple expansion engines, im
proved boilers, etc.
This brief sketch may suffice to call the atten
tion of readers to the advance made in the con
struction of all kinds of steam crafts, in their
models, machinery and fittings. From the Cler,
mont and Savannah to the Plymouth and City of
New York the history is well worth studying.