The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Empire State (Steamboat), 12 May 1848

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THE EMPIRE STATE. - Among the new additions which will be made to our lake marine during the coming season, is the mammoth steamer now building on St. Clair River, and which is to be called the " EMPIRE STATE." She is the largest steamer now built in the United States, that is connected with inland trade. Her length is 340 feet - breadth of beam 37 feet - overall 64 feet - and depth of hold 15 feet. Her burthen, Custom House measurement, is 1650 tons - and her model, one of exquisite beauty and perfection, combines strength and essential qualities for perfect safety.
      Her propelling power is to be of the most perfect and highly polished workmanship, after the style and finish of the magnificent engine on the ISAAC NEWTON. Messrs. Merrick & Town, of Philadelphia, have the contract for the engine, and it is now in process of construction, under the special superintendence of Mr. Newhall, well known on these waters as a skillful and scientific engineer. It is a low pressure beam engine, with 76 inch cylinder, and 12 feet stroke. The shafts are of wrought iron, 18 inches in the journal. The wheel is 40 feet in diameter, with buckets of 10 feet face.
      She will be most magnificently furnished and will afford ample accommodations for 430 cabin and 4,000 steerage passengers.
      She is expected to make her first trip from this port to Chicago in 60 hours, including all stops, and will disappoint her builders and owners if she fails to accomplish it. She will be in commission early in July.
      The EMPIRE STATE was planned and modeled by Capt. A. Walker, and has been built under his supervision. His skill, experience and judgment in matters pertaining to our Lake marine, is a good guaranty for her superior qualities. She is owned by Messrs. Hazard and Monteath and P.C. Sherman of this city, and will be sailed by Captain M. Hazard.
      Buffalo Republic
      Tuesday, February 22, 1848

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      THE EMPIRE STATE. --As this steamer was to have been launched on Saturday last, she will probably soon be here. The Philadelphia correspondent of the New York Herald, speaking of her, says ---: The boilers and machinery of the new steamer EMPIRE STATE, built to run on the lakes between Buffalo and Chicago, have been constructed at the Southwark foundry of Messrs. Merrick & Towne and will be shipped in course of the week, on barges, to proceed via the canal to Buffalo. The boilers, three in number, are immense affairs, being each 10 and a half feet in diameter, by 28 feet in length, and weighing over twenty tons. Our Philadelphia machinists have had a valuable complement paid to their skill, in the fact that the owners of this splendid steamer have had the moving power constructed in our workshops. The cylinder is 76 inches in diameter, with 12 foot stroke.
      Buffalo Republic
      Wednesday, May 3, 1848

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      STEAMER EMPIRE STATE. -- We have been awaiting the completion of this noble specimen of naval architecture, before noticing her in detail. She is now nearly ready for service, and her fixtures and appointments are rapidly being placed in position, preparatory to a trip to the Upper Lakes.
      The EMPIRE STATE is the largest steamboat upon the inland waters of the United States, and nearly equal in tonnage to the first class ocean steamers - being 310 feet long, 60 feet in extreme Breadth, 37 feet breadth of beam , and 15 feet hold, with a measurement of about 1,800 tons. She is owned by Messrs. Hayard, Monteath & Hazard, of New York. Her hull was built on the St. Clair River, under the superintendance of R.G. Goodsell, who stands first in his profession, as a naval architect. Her model is the most perfect which sound judgement and experience in navigation the Lakes could sugget, in reference to strength, speed, beauty of proportion, and capacity for freight and passengers. It has been demonstrated that boats having a heavy draught of water, are not the best calculated for navigating either the Lakes or the Ocean. The ocean steamer UNITED STATES, which has made such good time between Liverpool and New York, is of very light draught-and hence her speed and safety as a new vessel. The EMPIRE STATE has been constructed up on a simular plan, and when fully freighted will draw but eight feet water - About the same as those of 600 or 700 tons, built on the old principle. This feature of her model will conduce greatly of her speed, without an extraordinary exertion of the power of her engine, as the resistance from water is much less. She will make the trip between this city and Chicago- about 1100 miles - within three days.
      Description of the Engine: The engine is a Beam Engine, from the establishment of Merrick & Towne, Philadelphia, and a more stupendous and elegant piece of machinery has never come under out observation. The quality of material employed, and workmanship displayed, has never been surpassed, if equalled by any other builders in this country. The cast iron parts are as perfect and smooth as cabinet work, and the massive wrought iron connections are finished to a degree of perfection and polish far surpassing anything of the kind we have ever seen.
      The appeearance of the engine front baffles description. Its magnitude and splender upset all our ideas of engineering greatness, and throw the engines which we have long admired, completely in the shade. The steam chests present a concave - convex surface, embellished with Gothic mouldings and tracery. The upper chest rests upon two highly polished steam pipes, made in the fashion of Gothic columns and capped with gilt caitals, the caitals being the copper expansions rigns of the pipes. The valve bonnet, rock shaft and lifting rod brackets all partake of the same order of arcthtecture, making the most pleasing combination of elegance and utility. In front of the engine is a beautiful instrument, got up expressly for this engine. It combines a clock, with a silver dial, 25 inches in diameter, which gives the time of Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago and also the performanace of the engine for one minute or three years. The same instrument also denotes the pressure of steam and amount of vacumn. the whole is enclosed in a chasie ornamental frame for the antique style, in white and gold - a very unique affair, and a credit to the maker, Mr. Paul Stillman. of New York.
      In this gigantic and splendid piece of machinery the Philadelphia engineers have done themselvess great credit. New York can no longer boast of her superior boats, or superior engines, For the Western Empire State can safely challenge comparision with any of the floatng palace of the East.
      The cylinder of this engine is 76 inches in diameter and 12 foot stroke. Air pump, 54 inches in diameter. side pipes 27 inches in diameter. Shafts 18 1/4 inches in diameter, of wrought iron. Wheels, 39 feet in diameter, face, 10 feet.
      The engine was constructed under the superintendence of S.T. Newhall, Esq., an engineer of much experience. The drawings were designed and executed expressly for this boat, and furnished to the proprietors, by Erastus W. Smith, Superintending Engineer in the Ocean Steam Navigaiton Co., New York, whose skill and capacity in this business are not excelled probably, by any other man in the country.
      The boat is provided with one of Worthington's independent steam fire engines, capable of throwing to a distance of 130 feet 250 gallons, per minute which in case of fire would prove of great efficiency, and when we remember the inmentable fate of the "Erie" and "Phoenix" on our own waters, we realize the vast importance of such an instrument. this fire engine is also used to supply the boilers when the boat is lying in port or under any other circumstances when it is not convenient to work the main engine.
      One great advantage of the immense power of this engine is that it will not be necessary to crowd it to near its capacity to obtain the speed desired on all ordinary occasions.
      In an inspection yesterday, we were particularly struck wth the gigantic strength of every thing connected with the machinery. There are immense timbers so immovably confined in their position by innumereable large iron bolts that it would seem that they are capable of resistence even "the rending asunder of the Earthquake's Shock." All that iron and wood can be made to do, has been done to give strength, firmness and solidity to this part of the boat. And her engine, imbued with the strength of an hundred giants, is as firmly bound in the fastenings as would be an infant in the arms of a strong man.
      Her Cabins - The capacity of the cabin room of the EMPIRE STATE exceeds any thing in the United States, and for completeness and convenience of arrangement, she is without an equal any where. Her main upper cabin is about 270 feet in length, divided in the centre by the engine-the gentlemen's cabin forward and ladies aft-18 in width, with a beautiful designed arched roof, 12 feet in height, and lighted from a border of richly stained glass windows at the base of the arch. The painting and ornaments of the cabin display excellent taste-plain neat and chaste, wihth out the garish display of color and design which is frequently indulged in-presenting a beautiful detailed and general appearance. The panels and doors on eight side of the cabin are painted with a light white damask-with a landscape centre piece, and the coats of arms of the several States. At each end there are panels of variegated stained glass. The finish of the cabins throughout, is carried out in a corresponding style.
      Among the immense cabins are 200 state and family rooms-the former large and airy, fitted and furnished in the most approved manner. There are a large number of family rooms, some with one, and others with two bedsteads. sofas, and other appropriate furniture, presenting all the comforts and conveniences of home-a desideratum long wanted by familes and parties travelling upon the lakes. Especially during the summer, the pleasure traveller from the South, who leave their homes with all their household, have complained of the Lake route on account of the absence of the very aaccommodation which are so amply provided in the EMPIRE STATE.
      Below, on the main deck aft. is another Ladies cabin, elegantly fitted up in all respects. Surrounding this cabin, in the ample space presented by the great width of the boat, are a series of family rooms presenting another new feature, with a withdrawing room for the accommodation of visitors, &c. We noticed that the mattrasses provided on this boat are of a superior kind, which will do away with a great annoyance and cause of complaint which is found in many of our public conveyances.
      These cabins are capable of accommodating with ease and compfort, four hundred passengers-and an arranged that families may "live by themselves" as easily as around their own firesides.
      In steerage accommodations, this boat is unsurpassed. She has been constructed with a view to the immense emmigrant travel, which is annually increasing upon the Lakes The main steerage cabin is aft, between the first and second decks, -in large well finished, well ventilated and lighted, and equal to the first cabins of the boats upon the Lakes not not many years since. There are accommodations and conveniences attached, the absence of which has been seriously felt on other boats.
      Forward, there is another cabin fitted up for foreign emigrants, who go in groups or companies and who generally wish to be by themselves.
      Forward on the main deck, there is sill another composed of state rooms for families,and provided with cook stoves, Kitchens, and other accommodations peculiar to this boat.
      The Empire State has ample accommodations for 1.200 or 1.400 inhabitants, of every description, and in case of emergency can take on 2.000. Just fancy a respectable Western village- men, women and children, and their househols goods, embarked on board this steamer, and some adequate idea may be formed of ther immenase size and capacity.
      The joiner work was designed and executed under the superintendance of Mr. John Grissman, who stands in the front rank of his profession. The painting and ornamental work was done by Mr. John McNeal. of this city, and displays good taste in design and elegance of execution which is highly creditable to him. The splendor of the stained glass we never saw surpassed-and the effect of the whole finish is magnificent-not so much from elaborate display, as from its chasteness, beauty and appropriateness.
The furniture of the EMPIRE STATE is in keeping with her whole plan. It is manufactured of solid Rosewood throughout by Messrs. Herske & Timmerman, of this city and is of a style unique and a workmanship which we venture to say, cannot be surpassed in the country. In this particular, the steamboats of the lakes excell. No where else do we find furniture got up with such regal magnificence as upon these boats. No cost is spared, and no exertions wanting to procure the beautiful in style, and elequence in finish. In this branch of the merhanic arts, the amanufacturte of cabinet furniture, Buffalo is scarcely surpassed. The extent and variety made here, as well as the workmanship displayed, challenges the admiration of all who are cogniunt of them. The specimens displayed at the State Fair were the subject of universal commmendation. And it is the steamboat interest, more than any thing else, which has induced this perfection.
      We have thus given a hasty sketch of the most magnigicent steamer upon the Western waters-magnificent in size, in power, in finish and in appointments throughout. She will sail under the command of one of her owners-a thorough seaman, of long experience upon the Lakes-a gentleman every way qualified for the first office of so noble a boat- Capt. M. Hazard. The first mate is Luther Chamberlain, the former popular second Officer of the PATCHIN, and long known upon the Lakes-the first engineer is S.T. Newrall, under whose superintendence the engine has been constructed, and who we are told has no superior in the scientific skill requisite for his important station. N. Emerison, late of the Louisiana, goes as Steward. The other officers are not yet appointed.
      It is intended to make an experimental trip on Saturday, preparatory to leaving for Chicago on Wednesday next.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Thursday, October 5, 1848

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      The splendid steamer EMPIRE STATE went out yesterday afternoon on a trial trip, a short distance up the lake. Her engines worked admirably and she will undoubtedly prove as speedy as she is superior in all her appointments. She is now ready to commence her trips to Chicago.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Saturday, April 14, 1849

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      The new steamer EMPIRE STATE was towed into this port yesterday to take on her machinery. She is the largest lake steamer built in this country, being 17 hundred tons burthen.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Saturday, May 13, 1848

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Steam paddle EMPIRE STATE. Of 1,553 tond. Built St. Clair, Mich. 1848. First Home port, Buffalo, N.Y. DISPOSITION: -- Abandoned 1856.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S.
      Lytle - Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868

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new steamer
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William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Empire State (Steamboat), 12 May 1848