The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
China (Propeller), U5972, 19 Jul 1871

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THE 'INDIA" AND "CHINA" - In yesterday's Commercial appeared a full description of the magnificent new iron steamer INDIA, built and recently launched at the Evan's Ship Yard in this city. During the afternoon the steamer was visited by many persons of both sexes, and compliments were lavishly bestowed upon the fine appearance of the craft. The INDIA is a triumph of marine architecture, and is a credit to Buffalo that such supurb ship-building can be done here. She steamed out of the Creek last evening, and sped on her trial trip gracefully, and we hope with safety. Erie was to be touched at as the first stopping place.
      The CHINA, which is a twin sister of the INDIA, will be launched today at 4:30 P.M., from Evan's Ship Yard on Water Street.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Wednesday, July 19, 1871

      . . . . .

ANOTHER IRON STEAMER LAUNCHED. - The new iron steamer CHINA, of the Atlantic, Duluth & Pacific Steamboat Co's line, was successfully launched from the Evan's shipyard yesterday afternoon at five o'clock. The CHINA is the exact mate of the INDIA, which was fully described in these columns on Tuesday. She is the second of three iron vessels that the A. D. & P. Co., is building especially for the Lake Superior line. The CHINA will be fitted for sea as soon as possible, as she is now greatly needed on the line. She will be commanded by Captain George Dickson, who is well known on the lakes, as an experienced and successful steamboat commander.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Thursday, July 20, 1871

      The New Iron Steamer INDIA. -- Her Outfit, Appearance, &c.
Yesterday afternoon, in response to an invitation from Mr. E.T. Evans, manager of the Atlantic, Duluth & Pacific Lake Co.'s steamers, we visited the spacious docks of the company on the Creek to take a look at the new iron screw steamer INDIA, which is ready for sea. The INDIA is the first of three new iron steamers that are being built with special reference to the Lake Superior trade at the time of laying the keels of these vessels, we gave a full and detailed account of what they were expected to be. But the appearance of the INDIA, as she rides the water like a thing of life in its native element, so far exceeds our expectations that we are not disposed to allow her to leave the port without a parting word.
The dimensions of the INDIA are as follows: Length 215 ft., breadth 33 1/2 ft., depth of hold 15 ft., space between decks 9 ft., Custom House measurement 1239 46-100. Her engines and boilers, which are of the very best sort, were manufactured at the Shepard Iron Works in this city. The two engines are on the same shaft and are 36 x 36 inches. The boiler is a return flue with steel fire boxes, which is something entirely new to lake craft. The model of the INDIA is as nearly perfect as human skill can make it. The curves are gracefully drawn and every part is exactly proportioned to the rest. We have no hesitation in saying that this vessel is one of the most perfect pieces of marine architecture that ever floated on our inland seas; and in point of safety and completeness of outfit for the passenger traffic, she is second to no vessel on the lakes.
      The hull of the INDIA is painted a delicate pea-green, and the upper works white, relieved by red stripes. Her whole appearance is in striking contrast with the unseemly black hulls of some of the other steamers. The hold of this vessel is devided into five water-tight compartments, which makes sinking almost out of the question. For instance; if by collision or some other accident ten feet of the INDIA's bows were to be cut off from the deck to the keel, the vessel would be perfectly safe, as the water could not pass the first bulkhead; or if her sides amidship were crushed in, the water could not pass the water-tight bulkheads on either side of the break. In addition to these safeguards against accident she is provided with two Raymond metallic life-boats, ? wooden life-boats, with galvanized iron tanks, and three hundred life-preservers.
      So much for protection from the watery elements; now let us turn our attention to fire. The boiler and fire-room is surrounded entirely by iron. There is a partition of half-inch iron between the fire and the nearest wood. It will be seen, therefore, that fire from this quarter is impossible. In the cabins are two Babcock Fire-Extinguishers. Nothing but sperm-oil, which is the safest in use, will be used in the lamps. The INDIA is also provided with a steam force pump. There is no question but that every possible precaution has been taken to make the vessel as safe as human invention can.
      From the main deck the cabin is reached by a broad and easy flight of stairs, made of black walnut, with brass treads. On arriving in the cabin the eye of the visitor is almost dazzled by the brilliancy of the surroundings. Overhead hang massive chandeliers, with silk cord and tassels. Underfoot is on of Crowley's best velvet carpets. The cabin finish is of solid black walnut, birdseye maple and chestnut, in Hersee's best style. All the panels in the state room doors are of ornamented ground glass. The cabin is abundantly provided with sofas, tete-a-tetes, chairs, all luxuriously upholstered. Across the after end of the cabin is an immense mirror, six feet long, by four feet wide. Across the forward end of the cabin is another large mirror, which reflects the entire room. This larger one is twelve feet long by four feet broad. On one side of the ladies cabin is a large piano, manufactured by the Central Piano Co., of New York, expressly for the INDIA.
      The state-rooms are fitted up with all the comforts, and, in fact, luxuries that good taste could devise. They stretch the whole length of the cabin, and furnish accommodations for two hundred passengers. Each room is furnished with a double and single berth; each berth having a spiral spring bed, manufactured by McGrath & Bisgood, of this city, and also a hair mattress. The curtains, which are manufactured from Nottingham lace and English rep, reflect great credit on the designer. The state-rooms are also provided with fixed wash stands, made of black walnut and chestnut, with a marble top and bowl. These stands derive a constant supply of water from large tanks on the upper deck. On the walls are looking glasses and book shelves. The floors are covered with English Brussels carpet. The dining table in ninety feet long.
      It is, however, utterly impossible to do anything like justice to the appearance of the INDIA, in a briefly written notice. Our readers must see for themselves to appreciate the really splendid manner in which the craft has been fitted up. Her cabin resembles rather the parlors of a first-class metropolitan hotel than that of a steamboat. The table of the INDIA will be provided with all the delicacies of the season, and the viands will be served in hotel style. In steamboat management it is always an important matter to secure a good staff of officers. In this respect the INDIA has been remarkable fortunate. Her officers are as follows:
Captain - Benj. Wilkins 1st. Assnt. Engineer - Geo. Moire
First Mate - Alex. McFarland 2nd. Assnt. Engineer - W.H. Phelps
2nd. Mate - Thos. Stafford Clerk - Chas. A. Mack
Chief Engineer - J.E. Smith Steward - M.W. Bond
      Everyone that is acquainted with genial, good natured Ben. Wilwins knows that he is a prince of good fellows, and that as a captain of a passenger craft he is a complete success. The INDIA cannot fail to be a popular boat under his management. In this connection it is gratifying to note that the passenger traffic by lake is largely on the increase. We are informed by the agents of the passenger lines that the run this season has been heavier than during any year since the CITY OF BUFFALO and WESTERN METROPOLIS were withdrawn.
With the addition of the INDIA and her consorts to the trade we shall expect to see the Lake Superior route become very popular with tourists, as it rightly should be.
      The INDIA will leave for ERIE tonight at seven o'clock. The steamer will be open to visitors from three o'clock this afternoon until shortly before the time set for her departure.
      The CHINA, the consort of the INDIA, will be launched to-morrow afternoon at about five o'clock, from the Evans shipyard on Water Street.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Tuesday, July 18, 1871

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Steam screw CHINA. U. S. No. 5972. Of 1,239.46 gross tons. Home port, Erie, Pa.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1871

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William R. McNeil
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China (Propeller), U5972, 19 Jul 1871