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A Look Back Into the History of Boatbuilding | Soundings Online

19th century text messaging

Just Yesterday_SteamerThe Great Eastern. There was nothing like her in the world. Launched in 1858, she was 692 feet and had a gross tonnage of 18,915 — the largest vessel of her day. Five engines generated 8,000 horses, driving her at 14 knots. Propulsion was by side paddles (56 feet in diameter), a single propeller (24 feet in diameter) and six masts — said to be named Monday through Saturday — that carried 18,150 square feet of sail.



When Havana beckoned

just_yesterdayA U.S.-registered steamer heads out of Havana, Cuba, passing the famous El Morro castle, known formally as Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro. The massive fortress has loomed over the entrance to Havana harbor since 1589, when the Spanish built it to defend the city. Originally a chain was strung across the water from El Morro to the fort at La Punta. In later years, El Morro was used as a navigational aid; a lighthouse was added in the 19th century, as well as a school for light keepers.



To the Races

In 1890, Congress passed an act to “extend to foreign nations an invitation to send ships of war to join the U.S. Navy” in an international review of ships. The event would be part of the World’s Columbian Exposition, scheduled for Chicago in 1893 and commemorating the “discovery” of the Americas by Christopher Columbus.



A savior to boats and men

She was the dedicated keeper of Lime Rock Light Station in Newport, Rhode Island, and an expert small-boat handler. Admired by a U.S. president for her courage, she was a 19th century rock star, featured in Harper’s Weekly and Putnam’s magazines. She earned the Gold Lifesaving Medal and was officially credited with saving at least 18 lives.



Community Action

Dave Ryder (left) and Ben Gilley shuck scallops at Gilley’s cottage at South Wharf in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, in 1950. The old-timers were preparing food for the Allen’s Neck Clambake, an annual summer event that fed fresh seafood harvested from the abundant local waters — not to mention homemade sausages and pies, local corn and sweet potatoes — to as many as 500 guests and 125 workers in its heyday. A cord of hardwood, a ton of rockweed and a ton and a half of round stones made up the ovens.



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