EARLY HISTORY OF LAKE PROPELLERS.
Early in the spring of the present season of navigation, we gave a brief review of the career of our lake steamboats, and what came of them, which appeared in several issues of this paper. The following may be considered a correct, though brief, narrative of the propeller class, commencing with the first, and the years they were brought into commission. During the latter part of the year 1841, and in the winter of 1842, the Vandalia was built at Oswego, and commenced running early in the spring of that year, and was the first propeller that traversed the lakes. She came out sloop-rigged, commanded by Capt. Hawkins, taking her departure from Oswego in April. She arrived in Cleveland the 23rd of April, and in Detroit the day following. She was 150 tons burthen, and in 1846 was enlarged so that she was 320 tons burthen. Her name was then changed to "Milwaukee."*
The propeller Chicago and Oswego, each 150 tons burthen, were built at Oswego, and came out in 1842. These three propellers were all that commenced running in that year, and the first that plied on inland waters.
The Prop. Hercules, a brief history of which was given in a recent issue, came out in the spring of 1843, and the Samson in the summer of that year, and were, consequently, the fourth and fifth on the lakes. The Hercules was 275 tons burthen, the Samson 250 tons. Two additional boats came out the same year from Oswego, named the New York and Racine, 150 tons burthen each. The Emigrant, during the year last noted, was built at Cleveland, and commenced running that season. She was brig rigged. In 1845 her machinery was taken out of her, she remained as a brig and was lost that season on Avon Point. The Independence, which also came out in 1843 was 262 tons burthen. In 1845 she was hauled around the Sault St. Marie Falls, and plied on Lake Superior. She was lost in 1853. The Porter, originally the steamer Gen. Porter, was built in 1834 and reconstructed into a propeller in 1844. She plied only a short time and retired. The Oregon 345 tons, and the Phoenix, 350 tons, were built at Cleveland and came into commission in 1845. The Princeton, 425 tons, built at Perrysburg, the Detroit, 260 tons, built at Detroit, the Syracuse, 315 tons, built at Oswego, the Henry Clay, built at Dexter, 315 tons and the Ireland, 810 tons, built at Kingston, C.W., all came out the same year - 1845. The Phoenix was burned on Lake Michigan in November, 1847, below Sheboygan with the loss of 190 lives. The Princeton was lost in Lake Erie in 1854.
The number of this class of steamers rapidly increased in 1846, which can be seen by the following list, all of which commenced running that year:
The California, 406 tons; Pocahontas, 420; St. Joseph, 420. These were all built at Buffalo. The Earl Cathcart, 383 tons, and Queen of the West were built at Malden, C. W. The Oneida, 345 tons; Lady of the Lakes, 320; and Cleveland, 343; were built at Cleveland. The Goliath, 262 tons, was built at Palmer, Mich., and Odd Fellow, 239 tons, at Grand River, Mich. The James Wood, 400 tons, at Dexter; Genesee Chief, 400 tons and Ontario, 350 tons, at Rochester. The California was lost at Point Au Pelee in September, in 1856. The Goliath was lost in 1847, on Lake Huron, with all hands - it was thought by explosion. The Paugasset, 320 tons; Manhattan, 330; and Boston, 350, were built at Cleveland, and came out in 1847. The Oneida, above noted, was lost with all hands, in Lake Erie in 1850. Since 1847 the above class of steamers have largely increased in tonnage; their models have been much improved, and their number is legion. As freight steamers they are superior to all others, but for pleasure travel they cannot justly take rank with the side-wheel boat.
*Rebuilt and enlarged in 1846, but name not changed.