The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 8 Nov 1859

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Mr. Germain, of Buffalo, in a lecture on Friday night, made an explanation of his plan of a steamship for lake service. The vessel he proposes would be 1,000 feet in length, propelled by six of his improved wheels, three on each side; height 46 feet and with corresponding width of beam. The steam force to be used to be about 9,000 horse power. All the propelling machinery, fuel, &c., to be on the guards. The weight of the iron hull to be about 2,400 tons, that of the wooden upper works 3,000 tons, that of the machinery 1,000 tons, making a total of about 6,500 tons. The capacity of the vessel would be sufficient for 3,000 passengers and 3,000 tons of freight. The draft of the vessel, when thus laden, would not exceed eight feet. The speed of the boat, Mr. G. thought, could readily be made 50 miles per hour, at a less expense per ton than that of present vessels. If the 9,000 horse power would not be sufficient for this, more could readily be applied. The amount of coal for a trip from Buffalo to Cleveland would not exceed 45 tons. The profit of a trip through the lakes he placed at the minimum sum of eight thousand dollars, putting freight and passenger transportation at less than the common rates now. The plan of loading would be by a species of car, to be run on and off the vessel; the freight for all places to be kept separate, and to be loaded with reference to delivery. At all receiving places it could be prepared for delivery on board with reference to port of landing. In this way Mr. G. thought the time the time and expense of loading would be much reduced. Cars especially for grain could also be constructed. Mr. G. then alluded to the amount of grain and other freight transported on the lakes last year, which, at a low estimate, would be about 1,700,000 tons. Adding passengers, he thought there would be sufficient constantly to supply twelve or fifteen of his vessels. Mr. G. averred that his boat could be navigated through the ice at the rate of 40 or 45 miles per hour. He exhibited the model of an ice-breaker to be attached to the stem of the vessel, which would readily break ice of the thickness of two feet. It was designed to pass under the ice and throw it off on each side of the vessel; and as the ship would of course follow the same track and at distances of time not exceeding 24 hours, he believed it was altogether practicable to keep up navigation the year through.

At the close of the lecture, a meeting was organized. - Hon. MILLARD FILLMORE being placed in the chair, - it was resolved that the chairman should appoint a committee of fifteen to examine MR. GERMAIN's plans thoroughly, and report to a future meeting.

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The next week they probably had a man who wanted to sell them a bridge! A sidewheel steamer that would carry 3,000 passengers and 3,000 tons of freight at 50 mph using less fuel than a conventional steamer - we should get the plans! In fairness, at his time Brunel's mammoth iron steamship GREAT EASTERN was capturing the imagination of the world, even though it was a colossal financial failure. A modern 1,000-footer can carry upwards of 60,000 tons of cargo using only 14,000 horsepower, but would be hard-pressed to make 50 mph - probably a good thing, because think of the wake!
The Millard Fillmore mentioned at the end of the article is probably the ex-President of the U.S., who resided in Buffalo at the time.
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8 Nov 1859
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Dave Swayze
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 8 Nov 1859