19th Century Noah's Arks: Whaleback Steamer Ships

KorbenDallas

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I don't know about you, but the below ships, made between 1887 to 1898 look like submarines. It starts to sound pretty ridiculous, when you put hundreds, and may be thousands of all of them ships, locomotives, bridges, destroyed and rebuilt buildings, and thousands of miles of the railroads together. Add multiple Exhibitions into the mix, and factor in the wars the United States participated in between 1850 and 1900. What resources did this country have to produce all of the above?

Whalebacks
A total of 44 such vessels were constructed from 1887 to 1898.

(48 according to this Wiki page)
Whaleback_in_storm.jpg

Whaleback ship in storm
A whaleback was a type of cargo steamship of unusual design, with a hull that continuously curved above the waterline from vertical to horizontal. When fully loaded, only the rounded portion of the hull (the "whaleback" proper) could be seen above the waterline. With sides curved in towards the ends, it had a spoon bow and a very convex upper deck. It was formerly used on the Great Lakes of Canada and the United States, notably for carrying grain or ore.
  • The whaleback was a design by Captain Alexander McDougall (1845–1923), a Scottish-born Great Lakes seaman and ship’s master.
CaptainMcDougall.jpg
  • McDougall's design has been likened to a cigar with bent up ends.
    • McDougall was born on March 15, 1845, on the island of Islay, Scotland. He was the eldest son of parents David and Ellen McDougall. In 1854, when McDougall was ten, he emigrated with his parents to the Canadian-Scotch settlement of Nottawa, Ontario, now part of Collingwood. In 1862, at the age of seventeen, McDougall shipped out on the Great Lakes after limited schooling. He had time to pursue his hobby of designing ships of steel, and his experience with the violent storms of the Great Lakes prompted him to design the Whaleback.
  • When fully loaded, only the curved portion of the hull remained above the water, giving the vessel its “whaleback” appearance. Instead of crashing into the sides of the hull, waves would simply wash over the deck, meeting only the minor resistance of the rounded turrets.
  • Most of the whalebacks (25) were tow barges, all but one of which were identified simply by hull number. Some of these barges had no boiler (and therefore no stack); others had a small donkey boiler for operating winches and for cabin heat (often with a small stack off center).
  • The first self-powered whaleback was Colgate Hoyt, launched in 1890.
    • "Colgate Hoyt" was a steel whaleback steamer built at Duluth, Minnesota in 1890. This vessel was one of the early whalebacks built by Alexander McDougall, at the American Steel Barge Co., of Duluth, Minnesota, shortly after he had secured a patent in 1887. Later, he moved his yards to Superior, Wisconsin and, in all, built about fifty whaleback steamers and barges in the course of about ten years. In 1905, "Colgate Hoyt's" name was changed to "Bay City," after it was taken over by the Boutell Steel Barge Co. of Bay City, Michigan. Some time later, the vessel was sold Canadian and renamed "Thurmond."
Colgate Hoyt
Colgate_Hoyt2.jpg

Additional Source
  • The only passenger whaleback was the gleaming white Christopher Columbus, built to ferry passengers from downtown Chicago to the Columbian Exposition in 1893. At her launch she was not only the longest whaleback launched to that date, but at 362 feet (110 m) also the longest vessel on the lakes, gaining her the unofficial title of “Queen of the Lakes”. Reportedly, Christopher Columbus carried more passengers in her career than any other vessel to have sailed the Great Lakes.
    • Go figure this one out:
      • Built for the 1893 Chicago Expo (one more thing they had to build) - read the below.
      • The World's Fair Steamship Company ordered the construction of the Columbus at an estimated cost of $360,000. The job was undertaken at McDougall's American Steel Barge Company works in Superior, Wisconsin, starting in the fall of 1892.
      • The hull framing, which included nine bulkheads, was completed on September 13, 1892. The ship's propulsion mechanisms were next installed, consisting of a single four-bladed, 14-foot (4 m) diameter, 19-foot (6 m) pitch propeller, the two reciprocating triple-expansion steam engines (with three cylinders of 26-inch (66 cm), 42-inch (107 cm) and 70-inch (178 cm) diameters in a common frame with a 42-inch (107 cm) stroke) manufactured by Samuel F. Hodge & Co. of Detroit, Michigan, and six steel tubular return Scotch boilers, (11-foot (3 m) diameter by 12-foot (4 m) long), built by Cleveland Shipbuilding Company. The rounded hull top was then added, followed by the six turrets, which were substantially larger than those employed on freighter whalebacks. The ship was launched on December 3, 1892, after which two superstructure decks were mounted on the turrets along the centerline of her hull to afford access to her two internal decks, one in the turrets and one in the hull below.
      • She was fitted out over the remainder of late 1892 and early 1893. Electric lighting was used, and she was elegantly furnished. Her grand saloon and skylighted promenade deck contained several fountains and a large aquarium filled with trout and other fish of the lakes. The cabins and public spaces were fitted out with oak paneling, velvet carpets, etched glass windows, leather furniture and marble. Shops and restaurants were provided for the passengers.
      • McDougall's American Steel Barge Company had committed in the contract that the Columbus would be built and delivered in three months, making her one of the fastest-built large ships of her time. The builders further promised rapid loading and unloading, predicting that the vessel would be able to embark 5,000 passengers in five minutes, and disembark the same passengers in even less time. The Columbus was specified to be able run the 6 miles (10 km) from the dock downtown to the fairgrounds at Jackson Park and 64th Street in 20 minutes.
      • Carried more Great Lakes passengers than any other vessel
      • More of this Columbus Boat
      • SS Christopher Columbus - Wikipedia
      • Whaleback - Wikipedia
Christopher Columbus
christophercolumbus.jpg


Christopher Columbus under construction, right?
cc_boat.JPG

We have seen this type of docks before.

C. Columbus looks pretty ridiculous if you ask me...
Columbus-List-photo.jpg


Joseph L. Colby
whaleback_steamer.jpg

Joseph L. Colby.jpg


Str. Pathfinder
whaleback_1.jpg

Source

Thomas Wilson
Thomas-Wilson.jpg

Thomas_Wilson_whaleback_2.jpg


Samuel Mather
Clifton.jpg

Source

City of Everett
under construction
City_of_Everett_whaleback.jpg

NOTE: The SS City of Everett, under construction in its namesake. Note that it never *explicitly* names the ship, but as it's talking about the first whaleback built in Everett, and there was only ever one whaleback built in Everett, I assume the two are the same.

+ about 40 more of these
SS PATHFINDER & other WHALEBACK STEAMER.jpg

Allegedly, this is the original purpose of these ships: grain and ore transport, but...
  • The primary problem of the Whaleback design was its hatches. The edges of the hatch openings and their covers would get bent, destroying the watertight seal. Collisions between unloading equipment and the hatch edges also often occurred, resulting in slow loading and unloading.
  • KD: That's what happens when a piece of equipment is not being used in accordance with its designed purpose.
grain_loader.jpg
kd_separator.jpg

KD: I think we could have 44/48 of our Noah's type Arks here. You judge for yourself whether this design matches the time they were made. I have hard time imagining any other use for these between 1887 and 1898. These boats appear to be virtually unsinkable. Out of 44, or 48 boats there is only one surviving vessel out there. Coincidentally it is Frank Rockefellar, aka SS Meteor.
  • SS Meteor is the sole surviving ship of the unconventional "whaleback" design.
  • Meteor was built in 1896, and, with a number of modifications, sailed until 1969.
  • She is currently a museum ship in the city of her birth.
Check a few of them Ark names out. Here marches your future TBPB, I would imagine:
Anyways, yup, I do consider that these ships were used in a manner similar to the one observed in the movie 2012. A few chosen ones weathered the Storm, and went on to Rule this World.


Oh, and I did not specifically look for the construction photographs. I could be wrong, but something tells me that we simply slapped those superstructures on these fine boats. The rest was done by some other spin of our civilization.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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Anyone wants to guess how they stitched the hull together on this one in the early 1890s?

Records:
  • 1894 > The whaleback steamer Pathfinder and her consort Sagarnore. have broken all records for the number of round trips made by a steamer and consort during the Since leaving Chicago April 5 last, the Pathfinder and Sagamore have made 24 round trips, twentytwo of these being from Duluth to Ohio orts with iron ore. In all, the two boats have carrie about 120,000 gross tons of iron ore, 9,000 tons Of coal and 500,000 bushels of grain. These two vessels are part of the Minnesota Iron Co.’s fleet. At average current rates, their gross receipts for the season must have been about $95,000 for ore, $7,500 for grain and $1,800 for coal.
Interesting PDF: The Mythologizing of the Great Lakes Whaleback
 

asatiger1966

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They look very unsinkable.


You think this design of ship would still be built today. Or it"s probably like why we can not go to the moon anymore because they lost the technology.
I wonder how they unloaded them ?
The design and steel construction look advanced for the late 1892.

The main feature of those ships are their survivor-ability. To protect a cargo that can go down the stairs?
I have found photos of ships with what appear to be sliding doors?

ss_Meteor.jpg

5019 great Lakes 1935.jpgindex 1820 2.jpgimages 1820 3.jpg5029 Ice covering the bow of a Lakes freighter, 1930s.jpg
 
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WarningGuy

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Anyways, yup, I do consider that these ships were used in a manner similar to the one observed in the movie 2012. A few chosen ones weathered the Storm, and went on to Rule this World.
I think you are onto something. They do look like arks. It quite freaky they look like the arks in the movie 2012 also.
The whaleback ship reflected the experiences of its inventor, Captain Alexander McDougall, who decided in the 1880s that he could build an improved and easily towed barge cheaply by using the relatively unskilled labor force available in his adopted hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. Captain McDougall's dream resulted in the creation of the American Steel Barge Company. From 1888 to 1898, the American Steel Barge Company built and operated a fleet of forty-four barges and steamships on the Great Lakes and in international trade.

So there saying they built on average 4 to 5 of these ships a year with unskilled labor. I find that very hard to believe.
 

wild heretic

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Maybe another possibility is that the industialists comissioned these vessels as their own future arks as they know enough of earth's real destructive history with its civilisation wipeouts.

Maybe when it didnt occur they used them for commodity transport, which they definitely arent suited for.

Having said that, that would mean there must have been a timeline of expected deluge that didnt come to pass. Or it did come to pass and they survived and became the robber barons as Korben suggests.
 

Silent Bob

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So if these ships were used as arks for the last catastrophe then the survivors would have known exactly what they were for. These people would have immediately dominated the new civilisation, which they are effectively creating and repopulating. They know it will be a while before the next catastrophe so might aswell use the arks to build their wealth trading. An extra bonus is they get to disguise the ships true origin/purpose. As the next catastrophe approaches the ships are taken out of service, officially scrapped I guess, but in reality being prepared for the next reset. They have left one token ship on display in a museum whilst all the others are in place ready and waiting for the next trip around!
 

Banta

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Wow. Those are clearly subs. This is one of the more visually conclusive things I've seen lately. And the one that shuttled the most passengers ever on the Great Lakes was refurbished for the Expo... Well, seems pretty open and shut to me.

About those being subs, I mean... As for arks... Maybe? And maybe only some. They simply could have been for warfare, like today. Isn't there something about subs in the Civil War too?

Edit: Right.

That's just the Confederate one. Apparently the US Navy had some too. The Alligator, which have been on my brain lately (the animal).
Edit edit: Cripes... and the Revolutionary War Turtle.
 
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WarningGuy

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So if these ships were used as arks for the last catastrophe then the survivors would have known exactly what they were for. These people would have immediately dominated the new civilisation, which they are effectively creating and repopulating. They know it will be a while before the next catastrophe so might aswell use the arks to build their wealth trading. An extra bonus is they get to disguise the ships true origin/purpose. As the next catastrophe approaches the ships are taken out of service, officially scrapped I guess, but in reality being prepared for the next reset. They have left one token ship on display in a museum whilst all the others are in place ready and waiting for the next trip around!
This sounds crazy i know but what if another possibility is 43 whalebacks towing barges were used to bring in the thousands of orphan children except for the last one the Columbus which would bring in the few adults to supervise the children into the new world after the reset.
 

WarningGuy

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Yeah that pdf file is a good read. He was saying part of the demise of the whaleback was the small hatches and that the design was not down scalable. But then i was thinking why would you want large hatches when it was only small children coming out of them ?
He was also saying that in the overall the whaleback preformed quite well.

1563948151049.png
 

Timeshifter

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Found a few some zoomable construction photographs. Judge for yourself whether it was a new construction, or a refurbishing of sorts.
SS Christopher Columbus Interior
View attachment 26109
Source

'This rare image shows the CC being built at Superior in the fall of 1892'
ccbuild.jpg

Similar quote and exact same style 'under construction 'image off The Ss gt Eastern.

More a retrofit image for me.
 

WarningGuy

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+ about 40 more of these
SS PATHFINDER & other WHALEBACK STEAMER.jpg
Allegedly, this is the original purpose of these ships: grain and ore transport, but...
  • The primary problem of the Whaleback design was its hatches. The edges of the hatch openings and their covers would get bent, destroying the watertight seal. Collisions between unloading equipment and the hatch edges also often occurred, resulting in slow loading and unloading.
  • KD: That's what happens when a piece of equipment is not being used in accordance with its designed purpose.
grain_loader.jpg
Am i to presume that there was also another power sauce for some of these whalebacks ?
Where are the huge smoke stacks all the others have but not in these 2 pictures ? The bottom photo the whaleback has no stack at all.
 
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