The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), May 6, 1890

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Will some kind-hearted son of Neptune define, for the benefit of the regiment of lake marine editors and reporters , the exact nautical meanings of the words steamship, steam barge, propeller, schooner and tow barge? We are of the opinion that veteran sailors could do more to enlighten us on the point than any other class of people and to them, accordingly, we look for information.

Now a few words as to the sailing class of vessels. A schooner is a boat with fore-and-aft rig. The schooner David Vance was divested of her top-masts, put behind the propeller Samoa and then degenerated, in the articles of the marine reporters, to a tow-barge. But why? She still retained her fore-and-aft rig. And so with the rest. The lighters that tow behind mules on the Erie Canal are tow-barges, but please steer us clear of that word as applied to lake carriers. We are waiting to hear from you, Ancient Mariner.

A ship is a square-rigged vessel. Put steam into that vessel and you have a steamship; yet the Chemung, Owego, Harlem, Saranac, Susquehanna, Lackawanna and hundreds of others on the lakes are called steamships while the majority of them are rigged fore-and-aft, and the rest have no sails at all. The only square-rigged steamer on these lakes is the old United States steamer Michigan, and she may, with all propriety, be termed a steamship. Then again certain boats are called propeller, while others go by the name of steam barge. Now, the term propeller as applied to boats takes its name from Ericsson's invention, the propeller screw, and why should it not be applied to all boats which employ its use?

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May 6, 1890
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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), May 6, 1890