WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The terms "steamship," "steamer," "barge" and "vessel," as used among lake vessel owners and sailors are misnomers to say the least. Websters defines a steamship as "a ship propelled by steam," yet the Owego, Hudson, Manola, etc. are called steamships, though none of these is square-rigged. The only boats on the lake which in any way approach the description of a square-riiged vessel propelled by steam are the Michigan and Commodore Perry. It would seem foolish to call the Manola a steamship. She carries one short pole mast with neither sails nor yards. The whaleback Thompson carries a flagstaff at her bow, and is as much entitled to the name as the Manola. There is but one way to get around it, and that is to call a boat propelled by a screw a propeller, regardless of size or rigging unless, of course, she be square-rigged on three masts.
Sailors as a rule will laugh at a landsman who speaks of a steamboat as a vessel. The word vessel as used by them applies only to schooners. Yet Webster's defines a vessel to be "a structure made to float on the water, whether propelled by steam, wind or oars."
Some use the word "barge" in connection with a sailing boat without top-masts or jib-boom. Thus the Redwing a few years ago was a schooner, but when her top-masts and jib-boom were struck, she was turned into a "barge." The distinction is a strained one. She is a schooner still and will be as long as she lasts, and so is any sailing vessel which carries two or even five fore-and-aft sails, so that she keeps without the limits prescribed for a brig or barkentine rig. A barge is an unrigged vessel, i.e.: A boat without masts or propelleing power.
Time was when saior men applied the term "steamer" only to side-wheel boats, but his has grown into disuse to a certain extent, and now a steamer is any boat whose motive power is steam.