The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), 5 Jun, 1878

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Old shipbuilders remark that Americans have reached a turning point in their experience where questions long agitated, as to the relative cost of ships at home and abroad are settled, for it is demonstrated that tonnage can be put afloat as cheaply in the Untied States as in Europe, whether of iron or wood. In this respect there is no appreciable difference, particularly as to iron (at least so says John Roach); and as respects wood, we can turn out a good first-class ship for less money than ships of equal quality can be produced in any other part of the world. The very best do not cast above $50 a ton, and contracts can be made as low as $42 to $45 per ton. Norwegian "soft wood," or spruce ships are built a little cheaper than American oak and pitch-pine ships, which is the only exception to the foregoing remarks in making a comparison, but they are inferior in rig, spars, and every other respect. They do not class as high nor last as long. Having gained this point as a consequence of the reduced price on labor and materials, Americans must consider a question of scarcely less importance, viz., the cost of navigating ships. Italians can man their vessels with one-half the cost of American crews; Norwegians one-third; Germans one-quarter, and English one-eighth. These are about the standard rates, and the problem to be solved is, "How can Americans compete against such odds, however cheaply they may build?" - New York Bulletin.

Media Type:
Item Type:
The John Roach referred to is probably the noted political essayist of New York (1813-1887). Roach wrote books and essays and made speeches regarding U.S. commerce during the 1870's and 80's.
Date of Original:
5 Jun, 1878
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Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
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 Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), 5 Jun, 1878