The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
China (Propeller), U5972, 12 Aug 1871

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      Fair skies and smooth water favored the trial trip of the new iron steamer CHINA, from the Atlantic Dock out upon the bosom of Lake Erie, on Saturday afternoon last, and the invited guests who were on board enjoyed the occasion and became satisfied of the success of the steamer and her working capacity, as we will presently show. But before going into any description of the pleasure trip let us say a few words about this truly magnificent ship, which is a credit to Buffalo mechanical skill and an ornament to the lakes. Several week's ago, when the INDIA was fitted for sea, we gave a detailed account of her dimensions &c., and on the day succeeding her first venture upon the lake and her safe arrival at Erie, we spoke of her splendid movement and the delights of a ride on a ship so staunch, so swift, and so splendidly equipped. For this reason we think it hardly necessary to go very deep into particulars about the CHINA, as she is the twin sister of the INDIA. There are, however, a few things in this connection worth while to refer to at this time.
      The CHINA is one of five steamers belonging to the line of the Atlantic, Duluth & Pacific Lake Company, of which Messrs. J.C. & E. T. Evans, of this city, are agents. The boats run in the Lake Superior trade, and in the INDIA, CHINA and JAPAN, attention has been given to passenger traffic as well as freight carrying capacity. No finer steamers, in every respect, float upon the inland Lakes, and we augur beneficial results from the introduction of such splendid ships into our lake marine. We understand that the CHINA was built by capital furnished by the Pennsylvania Central Railroad Company, an organization that stops at neither trouble nor expense to advance its interests, and which is taking such enormous strides in the march of progress, that its movements are regarded with astonishment and admiration. Although making the City of Erie a main objective point in transferring grain products and mineral wealth, from the great Northwest to the East, yet some good will result to Buffalo from this generous and lavish outlay of foreign capital.
      The CHINA has the following dimensions: Length, 215 feet, breadth 33 1/2 feet, depth of hold 15 feet, space between decks 9 feet. Custom measurement 1,239 46-100 tons. Her engines and boilers were made at the Shepard Iron Works and are of the very best construction. The officers of the CHINA are as follows: Captain, George B. Dickson; Clerk, W. Ham Wells; Steward, H.M. Drake; First Mate, Ezekiel Downey; Engineer, E. Roat; First Asst., E.S. Stillwell; Second Asst., Wm. Tomlinson.
      It was about half past two o'clock that the CHINA, with flags flying, moved gracefully away from the dock and passed out of the Creek into the Lake. There were over two hundred passengers on board, comprising many of our prominent citizens. The lake was almost without a ripple, and the weather gave no ground for fear of sea-sickness. The steamer was abreast of Point Abino, twelve miles out, one hour and ten minutes after starting. The machinery worked well, although of course not so smoothly as will be the case after a few days running During the first hour and a half out the passengers amused themselves by inspecting the various parts of the boat, and when about to round to for port, the "busy whisper circling round" told that the tables were ready and the gustatory pleasure were about to commence. Seats were filled at once and a goodly array of faces were turned tablewards. James C. Evans Esq., occupied the head of the table, and at his right sat his son, Mr. E.T. Evans. After a brief discussion of edibles and potables had been indulged in, Mr. E.T. Evans arose and spoke substantially as follows: "In behalf of the Atlantic, Duluth & Pacific Lake Company, allow me to thank you for your attendance on board the CHINA in response to the invitations extended. This steamer, the CHINA, was built for the Lake Superior trade, and by the Pennsylvania capital, it is true; but the money was spent in Buffalo and the boats of the line will all run to Buffalo-- therefore, it seems to me, our city has a deep interest in the success of the line. The fact that outside capital has done something towards aiding the commerce of the lakes to and from Buffalo, should not pass un-noticed. If our city will but properly recognize steps of this nature, I think she will be benefitted in many ways thereby. Again I welcome you on behalf of the company.
      Hon. I.T. Hatch responded to calls and briefly adressed those present. He thought the enterprise of which the CHINA was a palpable evidence, was entitled to the commendation of Buffalo and the State of New York. Buffalo ought to manifest an appreciation of this enterprise, by adopting a wise and liberal policy, or she might see these splendid steamers departing from her port to return no more. After some interesting remarks, which were loudly applauded, Mr. Hatch said he didn't mean to inflict a speech on a pleasure party, and concluded by proposing the following sentiment: "The gentlemen who first introduced iron steamers on Lake Erie--the Messrs. EVANS." ------------------- ----------------. On the whole, the occasion was a pleasant one, and the safe return of the passengers at six o'clock completed the afternoon's programme.
      In conclusion it may be well to state that the beautiful paneling in bird's eye maple and black walnut, which gave so elegant a finish to the CHINA, was put in by Messrs. Hersee & Co., of this city. To Messrs. W.H. Ingram & Son and Geo. L. Burns beongs the credit of the painting of the craft, and the wooden figure head over the pilot house, a Chinaman in native costume, was carved by Mr. George R. Buck. McGrath & Bisgood have supplied the A.,D. & P. line with spring matresses for the berths. This is the only lake line so thoroughly equipped in this respect. The china and glass ware on this boat and her sisters, was gotten up by Messrs. W.H. Glenny, Sons & Co. A "mammoth olive branch" cooking stove from Felthousen & Russell's store adds to the culinary equipment of the CHINA. A new steering apparatus, the invention of Capt. Hunt, of the PHILADELPHIA, made by the Eagle Iron Works, is used on the new steamers built by the Messrs. Evans These points and many others of which we have previously, spoken testify favorably to the resources and mechanical skill of our city. We but echo the opinions of the agent of the line and of the officers of these steamers, in giving much praise to Mr. Felix Hughes, the superintending steward of the line, under whose direction and by whose taste the steamers have been furnished. A faithful and competant officer he deserves all the credit given him.
      The CHINA left this port yesterday afternoon with a number of passengers and a freight of something like 400 tons.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Monday, August 14, 1871

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trial trip
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William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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China (Propeller), U5972, 12 Aug 1871