Improvements in Ship Design

Improvements in Ship Design (HM1M5C)

Location: Buffalo, NY 14203 Erie County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 50.046', W 78° 51.288'

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The Industrial Heritage Trail

The maritime industry of the Great Lakes expanded greatly after completion of the Erie Canal in 1825. The canal allowed a growing U.S. population into the Midwest, which turned the Great Lakes into busy nautical highways for moving wheat, corn, lumber, coal, and iron ore. This expansion of commerce required constant improvements in ship design to keep up with demand. All the earliest Great Lakes boats were wooden sailing vessels of traditional European design. Steamboats became more cost-effective as commerce grew and technology improved. Steamboats offered faster and more predictable delivery of passengers and freight than sailing vessels, but were not very efficient bulk cargo carriers. Early Great Lakes Steamboat Thomas Jefferson, 1834. Side-wheel steamboats were soon replaced by the development of propeller steamboats. Propeller ships were cheaper to build and easier to operate than side-wheelers, and their machinery was more compact, leaving more space for cargo. The introduction of iron and steel into shipbuilding began with the Merchant, the first large commercial vessel built of iron on the Great Lakes. Its success led to the construction of several more iron-hulled ships during the 1870s. Metal ships offered many advantages to wooden ships. They were lighter, stronger, safer, and easier to maintain. Metal ships also allowed for the development of bulk freighters: larger specialized ships designed to carry large quantities of cargo. The bulk freighers were especially valuable for shipping grain, coal, and iron ore, all of which were instrumental to the development of Buffalo.
For all their value and beauty, the lakes were also very dangerous to early mariners. Powerful gales churn the waters, especially in late autumn. Lake Erie, being the shallowest of the Great Lakes, becomes especially violent during such storms. It is estimated that thousands of ships lie at the bottom of the Great Lakes, most of them undocumented. Merchant, the first commercial iron-hulled vessel on the Great Lakes. This 200-foot propeller ship was built in Buffalo in 1862. Image Source: Samuel Ward, American Steam Vessels, 1895.
HM NumberHM1M5C
Series This marker is part of the Erie Canal series
Placed ByThe Industrial Heritage Committee, Inc
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, July 24th, 2015 at 10:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 675324 N 4744624
Decimal Degrees42.83410000, -78.85480000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 50.046', W 78° 51.288'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 50' 2.76" N, 78° 51' 17.28" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)716
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1744 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo NY 14203, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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