George H. (George Henry) Thurston.

Allegheny county's hundred years online

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M. Dougherty, Nellie Walton, Oakland, Paragon, Relief, Reliable No. 2
(schooner), Samuel Miller, Shippers' Own, William Wagner, W. G. Horner No.
2, Western, Acorn.

1873. — Advance, Ark, B. D. Wood, Belle McGowan, Eliza, Enterprise, Hip-
popotamus, Horner, G. L. Risher, Joseph Walton, Josephine, S. W. Morgan,
Rover No. 1, Rover No. 2, Rainbow, Transit.

1874. — Joseph Warner, Jennie Walker, Rainbow, David Wood.

1875.— Andrew Foster, Benton, Big Foot, C.^W. Batchelor, Chas. A. Wood,
Cumberland, Carrol, Chas W. Mead, Dauntless, Fanchon, George Baker, George
F. Danna, Gen. Mead, John L. Rhoads, Jack Gumbert, James Neal, Rose Miller,
Robt. McChesney, Seven Sons, Scout, Shingo, Thomas J. Darrah, Tennessee,
Trader, W. S. Holt.

1876. — Boston, Collier No. 2, G. A. Greer, Gov. Garland, Gibsonton, Hard
Cash, Joseph K. Williams, Joseph Cook, John Snowden, Peninah, Stella Mc»
Closkey, South Side, Telegram, William Thaw.


1S11.—S. Woodyard, Black Hills, Big Horn, Coal Blufif No. 2, Decker, Bro3.^
Elk Born, E. S. McLain, Emma, F. S. T., Francis Murphy, Gen Custer, G. W. K.
Bayley, George A. Laskell, Hercules, Hiclus, Hawkeye, H. B. Leonard, Hattie
Rowland, Iron Clad, Ida, Iron Duke, Ironton, J. Bell, J. F. Hague, John Porter^
James Laugblin, James Nixon, James W. Gould, J. R. Laskell, Jack Gumbert,.
Kate Hooper, Keystone, Katie Stockdale, Leonie, Little Charlie, Liberty, Lillie-,.
Mamie McCloskey, McKelvy, Oakland, Orient, Occident, Onward, Pike, Robert
.Cook, Rose Bud, Rover, Smoky City, Sidney Dillon, T. C. Collins, Tillman,
Viola, W. C. Geoffrey.

1878. — Alice, Annie Roberts, Alert, Albie, Alice Bell, Blanch, Boaz Bellaire,
Buckeye State, Bessemer, Carrier, Clinton, Dick Fulton, Drake, Dacotah Belle,
Emma Cooper, Eclipse, E. I. Hulings, F. G. Batchelor, Germania, George
Matherson, Gen. S. Terry, Gen. G. D. H. Rucher, Green No. 1, Geneva, Gen.,
Chas. H. Tompkins, Geo. H. Crawford, H. M. Graham, John P Thorn, Joe, J. B.
M. Keklor, J. S. Neel, John P. Thorn, Josie Harry, Joe Scay No. 2, J. B. O'Brien,
Jos. B. Scully, Katie Williams, La Belle, Lucy, Maud Willmot, Mary Morgan,
Martin Speed, Montana, Nellie Brown, Norma, Frank B Nimick, Pittsburgh,
Pearl, Ruby, S. Thorn, Soho, Vigilant, W. Quickham, Wharton McKnight.

1879. — Dacotah, Harry Brown, James Lee, John E. Tygert, Mary C. Camp-
bell, Plow Boy, Wyoming.

1880. — Alarm, Chas. Jutte, Dean Adams, Dove, Eagle, Exquisite, Florida, H..
T. Dexter, Harry Earle, G. W. Bunton, Iron Age, Ida Lee, James H. Rtees, J>
McC. Creighton, John S. Hopkins, John C. Fisher, James O'Connor, Little Bill,
Little Fred, Pacific, Stella, Scotia, Short Cut, Tenafly, W. T. Wheless, W.
Jones, W. Kraft.

1881. — Billy Ezel, Comet, Delta, Electa, Excel, Iron Duke, Iron Cliff, Jim
Brown, John Gilbert, John Dippel, John Moon, John Lomas, James Caldwell,
Keystone, Little Dick, Little Fred, Lud. Keefer, Mark Winnett, M. G. Kcox, Mike
Dougherty, Maggie, R. B. Kendall, Rescue, Sam Brown, S. L.Wood, Tide,Waspj
W. W. Neil.

1882. — Boaz, Charlie Clarke, Cora, Chattahootchie, Dan'l Kane, J. M.Powell,
James G. Blaine, John K. Davison, Kate Adams, Lulu Wood, Lizzie Timmondsy
Percy Kelsey, Raymond Horner, W. Stone, Will S. Hays.

1883. — Alabama, Clifton, Chicasaw, Eugene, Frank Gilmore, Frank Stain,
Fred. Wilson, Gondola, Gayooe, Joe Peters, Little Ike, Monterey, Minnie Ray,
R, A. Speer, Robert Jenkins, Phoenix.

1884. — Creighton, Ed. Roberts, Geo. F. Danna, Hattie Brown, Ida Stockdale^
Pittsburgh, Orion, Slack Water, Two Brothers, Venice, W. D. Bishop.

1885. — Adam Jacobs, Geo. Kaplan, Josie W., Jim Wood, John Moren, Laura
May, Mary Disston, T. P. Leathers, Vanguard, Venus, Voyager.

1886. — Beaver, City of Chartiers, George R. Ford, Hudson, H. B, Sinclair^
Nellie Hudson.

1887. — Butterore, Eugene, Geo. Wood, Ralph.

1888.— Elizabethj^Harmony,


Pittsburgh seems to be one of those locations predestined, if the expression
may be allowed, for a ship-building centre. All the varieties of timber necessary
is at her doors. The enterprise and skill of man has assembled all other materials
for the complete construction of any vessel, from an armoured war-ship to a burden
barge. Under the use of iron and steel, which has so largely obtained in ship-
ibuilding in the past two decades, Pittsburgh has shown her ability. In the past
ten years many steel boats have been constructed at Pittsburgh for foreign
countries, and the industry bids fair to increase. As naturally as Pittsburgh be-
came an iron centre because of her iron and fuel, so did it become a boat and ship-
building point because of the materials there and the navigation. The skill of
man is wonderful, and the forces of Nature are all powerful, so when at any given
point the forces of Nature and the skill of man combine great results are a
<X)nsequence. Pittsburgh is a result of natural advantages and accumulated skill.

While the advent of the railroads increased the iron and steel developments
at Pittsburgh, it to some extent diminished the building of steamboats. The skill
and natural advantages are as great as ever. In the future developments that
miist be of the water highways of the country, the natural and skilled advantages
of Pittsburgh will reassert their force and make her a great steamboat and ship
<;onstruction point, not only of wood, but largely of iron and steel. Iron boats
Pittsburgh has been building since 1839.

The first boat built of iron that navigated the western waters was the " Valley
Forge," built in 1839, by Wm. C. Kobinson, Benjamin Minis and Eeuben Miller,
Jr., then proprietors of the Washington Iron Works, now carried on under the
style of Robinson, Eea Manufacturing Co.

The hull of the "Valley Forge" measured on deck 180 feet. The breadth of
beam was 29 feet, and depth of hold 5} feet. Across her deck and guards, at their
widest point, the breadth was 49 J feet. The frame of the boat was of angle iron,
the bottom and deck beams T iron, and the outside one-fourth of an inch Juniata
boiler plate. The boiler or first deck was all plate iron. The floor and hull
plates were of plain smooth surface, the sheets being closely jointed at the butts.
The sides were clinker lap. The keel, which was five-eighths of an inch iron, was
laid in the summer of 1838, and the vessel was launched in the summer of 1839,
and left the same fall on her first trip to New Orleans. There was one iron bulk
head the entire length, divided into eight water tight sections. Her tonnage was
about four hundred tons, and her cost $60,000. She ran from Pittsburgh to New
Orleans, St. Louis and Nashville, and ascended the Cumberland river as high as
^'Rome," Georgia. She continued to run until 1845, although once sunk by
running upon a snag, but was raised and repaired. In the spring of 1845, being
unable to compete with boats built under improved plans with greater carrying
capacity, she was dismantled, and the hull was cut apart and sold to iron manu-
facturers, and made into various descriptions of merchant iron. The last trip of
the "Valley Forge" was in July, 1845, from Pittsburgh to McKeesport, with a
large picnic party.


Th^re has been built at Pittsburgh, in all, some fifteen or eighteen iron boatSy
of which nine were war vessels. Two of these were constructed at the Fort Pitfe
Foundry works, famous for its manufacture of Columbaids. These two were built
in 1845, They were each 210 feet keel, 21 feet beam, 17 feet depth of hold, and
constructed of iron, varying from one-half to three-sixteenths of an inch in thick-
ness. One of these, the "Jefferson," was constructed at Pittsburgh, taken apart
and transported to Oswego, and there put together again and launched. She was
perfectly satisfactory in all respects, and cost $180,000, and is still in service. The
other was called the "George M. Bibb," after the then Secretary of the Navy.
The "Bibb" was launched at Pittsburgh, and went down the Ohio and the Missis-
sippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Her cost was $250,000, and she is still in service.
These two were two years in building. The iron revenue cutter "Michigan," now
in service on the lakes, was also built at Pittsburgh, being set up complete on the
lot at the junction of First and Liberty avenues, now occupied by the First Ward
Public School. She was then taken to pieces and transported to the lakes, and
there put together and launched. The iron for her construction was furnished
from the famous Sligo Mills, of Lyon, Shorb & Co., from their best Juniata
blooms, and 350| tons of this celebrated brand of iron was used in the construction.
of the vessel. In 1863 two other vessels were built on the ground adjoining the
Sligo Mills, of iron furnished from these works. One, the " Manayunk," was a
turret ship, armed with two fifteen inch guns. Her length was 224 feet, beam 43^
feet 3 inches, depth of hold 12 feet, draught of water 12 feet, and the inside
diameter of her turret 21 feet. This vessel was pronounced by good naval author-
ity as a most admirable boat; in all respects safe to sail in around the world,.
The other, called the "Umpqua," was a lighter draught, intended for river service^
but also a turret vessel, or monitor, as they were popularly called during the war..
Her length was 225 feet, with 45 feet beam, 7 feet 10 inches hold, and drew 6 feet
6 inches water. The height of her turret was 9 feet, and its inside diameter 20
feet. She was armed with one eleven inch gun and one one hundred and fifty^
pounder Parrot rifle gun. There was used in the construction of the " Mana-
yunk" 1,247^ tons of iron, and in that of the "Umpqua" 813 tons. The plates
for the turrets of these vessels were inch plates ten times repeated. The iron of
the skins or hulls was from three-fourths to one-half inch in thickness. Both these
vessels went to sea by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Two other war
vessels for the United States navy were also constructed at Pittsburgh about 1845.
One was a small revenue cutter called the "Hunter," and the other a second-class
frigate called the "Allegheny," both of which went down the Ohio to the ocean^
and are still in service. In 1864-5 there was also built for the government, of
iron, the " Marietta" and the "Sandusky," In addition to these, several boats for
the peaceful uses of commerce have been constructed at Pittsburgh, of iroBt
furnished by her iron mills.

As previously observed, the building of steel boats has been one of the itema
of the progress that has been made at Pittsburgh in the past decade.


To James Rees & Sons, of Pittsburgh, belong the honor of constructing the
first steel plate steamboat constructed in the United States; to Hussey, Howe &Co.
that of furnishing the steel plates and other steel entering into its construction,
and to Pittsburgh mechanics the credit of the work — a noteworthy honor for
Pittsburgh enterprise and skill. It is also worthy of note that a company in a
foreign country gave the contract to a city of a strong protective tariff nation as in
competition with experienced builders of free trade advocating people. It would
seem that good wages to workmen, as a result of protection, was far from weaken-
ing ability to enter other than home markets with the product of their labor, but
rather to the reverse.

This vessel was the Francesco Montoya, and built in 1878 for the Magdalena
Steam Navigation Company, of South America.

The boat was 150 feet long, 30 feet beam, and 3 feet hold. The construction of
the boat was with angle iron ribs, 18 inches apart, and angle iron deck beams and
steel plated hull. She was constructed with nineteen water-tight compartments!

While the boat was constructing, the parties for whom it was being built were
constantly protesting against the use of steel instead of iron, alleging that she
would be liable to snap and break in two when landing hard, or if striking a rock
or bar. With an unflinching confidence in Pittsburgh steel and the work of the
firm furnishing the plates, the buildei'S guaranteed the result. Their faith in Pitts-
burgh work was fully sustained in several instances of the accidents feared. In
the rapids of the Magdalena river during a freshet, while the boat was going down
stream, the engine and rudder had no control of the movements of the vessel, and
she was thrown upon some rocks while running at the rate of thirty miles an hour,
as the captain and engineers reported to the owners. The shock broke nineteen of
the iron ribs and bent some of the steel plates from six to eight inches, but there
was not a hole punctured and but little leakage.

There was also built for the same company, in 1879, the Victoria, 157 feet long,
33 J feet beam, 4^ feet hold ; also the Roberto Calisto, 110 feet long, 22 feet beam,
3 feet hold ; also, steamer Comuta, 130 feet long, 30 feet beam, and 3 feet hold.

These boats were all erected here, then taken apart and shipped to their des-
tination in pieces, a couple of skilled men being sent to superintend the construc-
tion of the boats on the Magdalena river, employing the native labor in the work.
That Pittsburgh shops pack nails in kegs, steel and bar iron in bundles, and ship
to distant ports ; tumblers and other glass ware in boxes to Europe, reflectors and
electric light apparatus to Japan, and a score of other descriptions of her manufac-
tures to many foreign parts, is of so constant occurrence as to have lost novelty.
That a whole steel steamboat should, however, be packed like so much tin plate and
thus delivered to the purchasers is a matter of singular interest. Verily great is
Pittsburgh and skillful her workmen. In 1880 was built the steamer Venezula,
constructed entirely of steel,^ being the first in which steel was used in place of
angle iron. Since then has been constructed the steamer Columbia and steamer
America, of the same dimensions as the Venezula; also, in 1881, the steamer


Irura, 112 feet long, 22foot beam, and 3-foot liold, to run on the San Juan river,

The fame of the "stern- wheelers" of Pittsburgh attracted attention also in
Russia, and from the shops of Pittsburgh ship-yards went the drafts and specifica-
tions and the mechanics that inaugurated upon the " Volga " and the " Dneiper "
and other rivers of Russia the building of those stern-wheel steamboats which now
navigate those and other streams in that empire.

In the course of these pages has been frequently noted the dominating force of
the city in its industrial character. Possessing the largest chimney factory in the
world, a table ware factory of the greatest capacity in the world, the largest cruci-
ble steel plant, the most extensive Bessemer plant, the greatest cofiee house in the
world, the greatest flour house, producing over one-eighth of all the pig iron of
the United States, nearly three-fourths of all the coke, two thirds of all the glass
ware, and two-thirds of all the crucible steel, Pittsburgh is truly a city to be proud
of, and in this record of boat building it is beyond all question the greatest steel
and iron boat building point in the United States, and her boat builders are shown
as aiding in the building up by their skill the internal transportations of two
great empires. Yet it seems but an ordinary industrial community to the average
Pittsburgher instead of a city to be proud of. So much a matter of every day
routine are the products of their great factories and their working.

In closing this condensed sketch of Allegheny county's history in boat building,
a few sentences are proper, to point out the admirable location there is at Pitts-
burgh, or in its vicinity, for a national naval construction arsenal.

Where could there be so desirable a point as Pittsburgh ? The iron, the steel,
the woods are there ; the foundries for the casting of guns ; the mills for armor
plates of any thickness or test; the hemp of Kentucky, for tlie cordage; copper
and brass for all purposes, as well, and a reserve of skillful mechanics in all de-
partments of work at all times available. Built, armored and fitted out in every
particular in security from attack the ships could decend in safety to the Gulf for
such services as the hour required.

In the vessels of war mentioned as constructed, lier power in that respect was
fully tested, while the ease with which those ships decended the rivers to the
ocean, or were transported in sections and put together at other points, makes its
own argument as to facility. No expensive governmental works were in any of
the instances required to be built before proceeding with the work. The mills
and machine shops in daily use turned out the material as required, and the me-
chanics of the city found themselves perfectly competent to fashion the hulls and
complete the ships. When this facility in the matter of iron vessels is shown ;
ability in wooden ones, tested for years, when the security of the position is con-
sidered, and the facilities of sending vessel after vessel, of almost any draught, to
the ocean, apparent from actual tests, — and the great supply of all materials,
whether of woods or metals, or fabrics, manifest, there seems much reason why
government should find it desirable to locate here a naval construction vard.



The day for the full use of the Ohio and our other western rivers has not yet fully
dawned. When it does the great facilities Pittsburgh possesses of materials and
skilled workmen will keep her in the front, as heretofore, as a great ship yard.

The construction of boats at Pittsburgh has, of course, not been in the imme-
diate purlieus of the city, but at the various ship yards in the vicinage, although
all the iron ships from 1839 to the present date have been constructed at the im-
mediate wharves of the city.

The tonnage of the city of Pittsburgh at the present time is 1,359,972 tons,
being the Custom House measurement of 3,200 steam, passenger, tow and other
vessels of various kinds used in the boating business of the city.

In this it must not be understood that all the tonnage of the port of Pittsburgh
is included. At the Pittsburgh Custom House only the steamboats are registered.
The great barge and coal boat tonnage is not included. This in itself is very large.
If, as at the port of New York, all description of craft were registered, it is a fact
that the tonnage of boats using the river, at Pittsburgh, is greater than that of the
city of New York, the greatest commercial point of the United States.

There has been over 3,000 steamboats and ships constructed at Pittsburgh and
vicinage within the dates given in the preceding pages. The entire steamboat ton-
nage that has been built at Pittsburgh and vicinity, since 1811 until 1888, is about
1,000,000 tons; and the value of the vessels so constructed, as near as can be esti-
mated, is about $50,000,000.

In this, as before said, is not included the barges, many of which carry from
three to five hundred tons; nor the coal boats of equal capacity, the number of
which, from the reason before given that they are not registered, cannot be ar-
rived at, and consequently neither can their aggregate tonnage. If it could it
would probably more than double the aggregate tonnage as given in the preced-
ing paragraph.

Coal and Coke Trade

A historical sketch of the coal trade of Allegheny County necessarily centers,
in its facts and statistics, in and around Pittsburgh, as it is the point of departure
of all the coal transported by river, and much of that by rail. The business offices
of nearly all the firms engaged in running or shipping coal are in Pittsburgh, and
their transactions made and concluded there. A large proportion of the coal is,
however, mined in the adjacent parts of Washington and Westmoreland counties,
although in the townships, lying along the Monongahela river and Pennsylvania
Kailroad, large tonnage of coal is taken out. The handling of and use of coal at or
in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, ante-dates any of what are now the standard products


of Allegheny CoHnty, and its possible fntnre benefits attracted attention even be-
fore the building of l^'ort Pitt. Colonel J>nrd, in his journal, while constructing
the road to old Redstone Kort, now Brownsville, mentions it; and Washington, in
1770, while stopping at Kraziers, on the Youghiogheny, makes mention of having
examined (toal taken from the opening of a vein on Frazier's grounds. There is
nothing remarkable in this, however, as, of course, coal as a mineral was no novel-
ty to either of the persons quoted. Ft is only quoted as probably the first mention
of the substance west of the Alleghcnies, which has become the leading export of
Allegheny (bounty's products, and through which the cities and towns of the Ohio
and lower Mississippi valleys obtain their fuel for household and manufacturing
purf)oses, and the cities their gas for lighting. (Jould Cohmel liurd or George
Washington, when they examiuod the s|)ecimens they mention, have been told
that the coal trade of Pittsburgh and vicinity could have reached its present
enormous magnitude, they would have considered it not only a "Munchausen,"
but one of the more visionary of such fables. But while every day occurrences
prove that truth is stranger than fiction, so has the wonderful growth of the United
States far outstripj)ed what the wildest imagination could have voiced a hundred
years ago. The writer remembers with triumphant pleasure how, when a mere
youth, (ifty years ago, being joked and laughed at by a circle of business men
gathered 'round an old-fashioned blazing coal fire, because he ventured the asser-
tion that in less than twenty-five years the coal fields to the east of the city, then
to be had from five to ten dollars per acre, would be worth their hundred, and the
coal be taken out by shafts where it could not be otherwise reached. Most of those
who laughed at it as a youth's fancy lived to see it verified. It is not necessary
now to venture prcdicti(m of the future coal trade of Allegheny County; its past
progress and the increasing population of the Ohio and Mississippi foretell what
its magnitude will be.

Of its early use at Fort Duquesne there is no record, but some legends state
that the French troops dug and used some from the hill opposite the fort. This
possibly may have been so, but in the abundance of timber and the ease with
whi(;h it was obtained, it is not probable that the trouble of mining coal would
betaken. In the earlier days of Fort [*itt there are also some traces of its use,
but wood was still abundant, and in the cleanliness and poetic beauty and senti-
ment that accomj)auied a "roaring wood fire," the use of coal, with its smoke and
soot, did not likely find much favor.

The first record of actual coal mining is in the grant from the "Penns," in
]784, to mine coal from the hill immediately opposite the fort, "as far as the per-
pendicular falling of the hill," for thirty pounds a lot. According to an old tra-
dition this coal was tied up in raw hides and rolled down the hill. It is also re-
corded that Shiras' brewery, at the point, was supplied in 1795 with coal by a Mr.
Mossman, from a j)it now in the 'J'hirteenth ward of the city of Pittsburgh, form-
erly called Minersville from the settlement of coal miners there.

A Lieut. Uobbins, who settled at a point now called Kobbins Station, on the
Pnllimore and Ohio Kailroad, in 1790, opened up a coal pit in that year there,


and began using tlie coal for smelting and domestic purposes. In 1797, when
General O'llara and Major Craig established their glass factory at Pittsburgh, it
is of record tliat Mr. Eichbaum was taken to a point on the side of the hill oppo-
site the town to make an examination of the coal there, to see if it would do for
use in the glass furnace. Tliese facts, although not new in the history of coal, are
mentioned as the genesis of the use of coal at Pittsburgh that the reader may, if
he chooses, bridge in his mind the contrast between tiien and now, in the exposition
made on the present magnitude of the coal and coke industries of Allegheny

It was wben the shipment of coal down the Ohio river commenced that the
dawn of the Pittsburgh coal trade really began. This was in 1817, and by Thomas
Jones. Fourteen years previous to that, however, a shipment of coal had been
made to Philadelphia, by way of the Ohio river, on the ship Louisiana in 1803.
The ship being ballasted with coal, which was sold on the ship's arrival at Phila-

Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) ThurstonAllegheny county's hundred years → online text (page 16 of 43)