The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Ship Building at Cleveland
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), 11 Mar 1846

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Ship Building at Cleveland.

Many will be astounded to learn that the ship building, now carried on at this place, gives constant employment and good wages to near five hundred men, and employs an amount of capital second to no other port on the Lakes.

We are satisfied of these facts by personal observation, made yesterday through the extensive ship-yards, which cover nearly the whole of the Flats on the west side of the Cuyahoga.

In the yard of


we found two Propellers on the stocks, of 350 tons each. One was building for R. R. Burkle & Co., and nearly ready for launching. She is a splendid model; to be commanded by Captain Sprague, of this city, and cannot fail to be a first class boat. The other is owned by several of our citizens in company with the builders, and will be launched about the first of May.

These enterprising builders are also putting up a Steamboat of 800 tons at Black River, which will be out sometime in the season. She is to be propelled by the engine from off the Empire, and owned in part by D. N. Barney & Co.

The Messrs. Jones are making extensive alterations in the Steamboat Empire, notwithstanding the acknowledged fleetness of this boat, having as yet no equal upon these Lakes, her enterprising proprietors have resolved to put a new engine into her of greatly increased power. It is now building at the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace, and will be of the same model of the former, except that its cylinder, cranks, and wheels, will be much increased in size and strength. From the almost unexampled success of the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Company in building steam engines, we can safely predict a triumph in their present effort, and that the Empire will still be the bally boat of the Lakes. Its speed will certainly be increased and the Oregon, the Boston, and other new boats which have been aspiring for the palm, will have to “bust their bilers (boilers).” So much for the speed of the Empire. – Now for its “bottom.” The building of such large boats is an experiment, and although the Empire in its construction, owing to its great length, was strengthened by two arches, of some 150 feet in length, it has been found necessary to put in two additional ones, running from stem to stearn, and circling in the centre clear above the hurricane deck. They are of three inch plank, and when bolted together, make a solid beam, 18 x 30 inches, and of sufficient strength to bind the boat strong as the chains of adamant.


These gentlemen are doing an extensive business in ship building. They have on the stocks, and nearly ready for launching, a Steamboat, 700 tons, for R. Winslow & Co. Although not so large as the Empire, it is intended to be one of the finest boats on the Lakes. Its engine is now building at the Cuyahoga Furnace, and every calculation is made to give it great speed. A more full notice of this boat will appear in due time.

Messrs. Sanford & Moses are also building a Schooner of 200 tons, for T. Richmond & Co., and two canal-boats for the use of our Canal.


These gentlemen are building a Brigg of 250 tons, for Pease & Allen – a vessel for Richmond & Crowl, and two canal-boats for the Ohio Canal. They also have a rail-way, which is in constant use for hauling out and repairing vessels. – We are not well acquainted with all their business operations, but understand they do not want for building applications, the result of fidelity and skill in their profession.


are building one Schooner and a very fine Propeller of 350 tons, for Mittleberger & Co. – This makes the third Propeller to be launched from the Cleveland ship-yards this spring.

In addition, we notice, that the Propeller Phoenix, built by Messrs. Jones, at this place last season, and which proved to travel with steamboat speed, has been entirely overhauled, and a new and splendid upper cabin placed upon her. She is now fit for full steamboat service, and under her gentlemanly and obliging commander, Capt. Sweet, will do a good business next season.

We see connected with these yards one Mould Loft, a building of about 100 feet in length; a steam factory for making edge tools; a yawl boat factory; several blacksmith and paint shops; all together giving employment to near three hundred hands. The Cuyahoga Steam Furnace now regularly employs over one hundred men to work on the engines. So much for Cleveland as a ship-building place.

There are now in port some sixty vessels, which, in a few days, will commence their annual repairs, and to the bustle already in the ship-yards, add the clatter of the caulking mallets, and chissels on all these; and it will make such a “business hum” as Cleveland has not witnessed for many a day.

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11 Mar 1846
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  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.4975714548421 Longitude: -81.7112886773681
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Ship Building at Cleveland