Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Thomas Jefferson (Steamboat), 25 Aug 1847
Full Text

Floating Elevator. - We perceive that the old steamboat THOMAS JEFFERSON, which did such good service in her sphere, for some ten years, is being converted into a floating elevator - the hull having been purchased of General Reed, by Messrs. L. Barker and John Pagin, who are fitting it up for that object. It is intended to act as a transfer boat, in taking grain from vessels and discharging in into mills, canal boats or warehouses. The facility with which this can be done, must render this novel craft extremely serviceable in busy times, as it can get alongside of a loaded vessel, wherever she may be, and rapidly shift her cargo to canal boats on the other side, at the rate of 2,000 bushels an hour.
      Although since the erection by Mr. Dart, some years since, of the first steam elevator on our harbor, there have been a number of others put into active, and successful operation, still the pressure of grain has been such that vessels have been unable to get discharged of their cargoes without much delay, and consequently "demurrage," during the present season. The Floating Elevator will, therefore, operate advantageously as an auxiliary, and also enable those warehouses which are not fitted with elevators, to likewise receive grain for winter storage, at small expense.
      This improvement has been patented by Mr. Pagin, one of the owners, within the last three months, and is the first practical application of it which has yet been made. It has been suggested, that the present elevator should be stationed on the St. Clair Flats, to act as a lighter for heavily laden grain vessels bound down, and as it has capacity for stowing between decks, in self discharging bins, some 15,000 bushels, it might probably do a good business on that station; but if there be full employment found here, it will remain in This
      The JEFFERSON was of 428 tons burthen, built by Gen. Chas. M. Reed, at Erie in 1834, and was commanded by the veteran Wilkins. Her engine is now in the LOUISIANA. She was a popular and successful boat, and is destined yet to much usefulness in her new shape. Her bow has been entirely rebuilt, and new timber put in wherever the old were defective. The examination of her timbers shows the danger of dry rot, when not left partially open to the air. Where the lining was closely fitted to the deck above, some of the ribs above water were crumbled to pieces, and had to be replaced, while in other portions of the hold where access to air was given, they were perfectly sound. The practice of salting the timber when building, is unquestionably the best preventive of rot, and is easily and cheaply done.
      The engine which does the elevating, is of 20 horse power, and manufactured by Messrs. Bell & McNeish - the boiler by Jno. Newman.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      August 25, 1847

      . . . . .

      Quite a controversy has arisen, and the Council has been called upon to act in the matter in relation to the occupancy of Buffalo Creek with a Floating Elevator. The question first came up on a petition of those having elevators upon the border of the Creek, to have the floating one removed. A counter petition was presented by a large number of forwarders and others engaged in the commerce of the Creek to have it remain. The "Floating Elevator." owned by Mr. L. Barker, which is the old steamboat JEFFERSON, was moored alongside a lot leased by Mr. B., on the south side of the Creek near the Marine Railway. The Harbor Master ordered it to be removed, which order was not obeyed. Law suits were commenced and more threatened. The Council, however directed that no others should be instituted. Mr. Barker made issue that as his elevator was a licensed vessel, and as Buffalo Creek was a port of entry of the United States, he had a right to occupy it. And upon this issue, the suits pending are to be tried, with other relative questions which are involved.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Wednesday, September 27, 1848

Steam paddle THOMAS JEFFERSON. Of 428 tons. Built 1835 at Presuqe Isle, Pa. First home port, Presque Isle, Pa. DISPOSITION:- Rig changed to elevator in 1844.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A,
      The Lytle-Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868

Item Type
becomes floating elevator
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Thomas Jefferson (Steamboat), 25 Aug 1847