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River City: 1910

River City: 1910

Circa 1910. "Jacksonville, Florida, and St. Johns River." Note the sign for the Dixieland Park ferry. 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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For the birds

Great birdhouse on nearest warehouse!

DD 15 or 16?

I think I might have identified the warship at left foreground. It seems a lot heavier than a torpedo boat -- surely the weapon on top of the aft conning station is larger than the 6-pounder identified by SouthBendModel34. Even the existence of an aft conning station suggests it is a destroyer, but the date says it must be an early one.

The funnels being so close to the conning station (mostly concealed under an awning) can be explained if it's one of the destroyers that had boiler rooms fore and aft and engine rooms amidships; DD 1, USS Bainbridge, had that layout. Then it would be a much longer, bigger ship entirely than it appears in the photo, its bow extending way to the left of the photo's edge, and explaining why Adam thought it might be a torpedo boat -- we're seeing only a small part of a 4-funneled craft. However, Bainbridge class DD's had their 6-pdrs forward of the conning station (with a 3-inch on top of it that could fit our ship), not aft as is clearly shown in the photo. They also did NOT have a propeller guard, and we can see a little piece of one if we look carefully. Also, Bainbridge class ships had blowoff tubes running up the two aft funnels, which this ship lacks.

Looking further down the helpful list of destroyer photos in Navsource (, I found that USS Worden and Whipple (DD 16 and 15) had plain funnels, 6-pdrs aft of the conning station, and propeller guards. The images in Navsource of these relatively obscure destroyers don't show them clearly enough that I could see any differences between them, so I'm leaving the identification at that. An annoying discrepancy is that photos of Worden and Whipple don't show the small mainmast with battle gaff that appears on the Shorpy photo immediately forward (left) of the 3-inch gun on top of the conning station. However, photos of other early destroyers show masts changing position and size during their careers so it's still, I think, very likely our ship is one of those two.

Coaling in those days

I guess having access to a coaling wharf was a boon in those days. Even with a wharf there was still enough manhandling to do in order to get that coal down below. Not to mention to get it from stowage to the fireholes later on.

Just look at USS Texas BB-35: 1900 tons of coal (! No wharf at Scapa Flow, though.

Yuck! Oil is that much more convenient. Just pass the hose, and start the pump.

Torpedo boat

I was wondering if it might be one like the USS MacKenzie (TB-17)?

Four-Masted Schooners

The two "tall ships" are four-masted schooners. The schooner rig lasted longer in commercial service than the square rigger because a schooner requires a smaller crew. The whole crew of a 4-mast schooner might be only 10 or 11 men, all up. The last 4-master sailing in the Atlantic was carrying cargos as late as 1949. (The Schr. Herbert L. Rawding.)

These schooners in Jacksonville are likely carrying coal from Norfolk VA. Other possible cargoes for them would be cypress lumber, which was in demand for furniture and door making, or phosphate rock mined in FL for conversion into agricultural fertilizer.

Just as interesting as the schooners are the steam yacht and the partially obscured vessel at the coaling wharf.

The near vessel is unquestionably Naval - one can see two pedestal-mounted "quick-firing" guns, 6-pounders I think, on either side near the stern. At the very stern is what appears to be a small torpedo tube. The stern itself has a rounded counter. Surely the class of this vessel could be identified by one of our Shorpy Sleuths. It's either a steam torpedo boat or an early Destroyer. (DD)

Efficient use of resources

While tall ships classed as fully rigged or square-rigged might have a larger crew, these four-masted schooners might have a crew of just ten to twelve - good ratio of cost of manpower to payload, and practically zero carbon footprint.


Interesting tug side-lashed to a single barge. Approaching the swing bridge.


The bridge in view is the old Florida East Coast Railway - St. Johns River Bridge. It was a single-track, Pratt through-truss swing bridge built in 1889-90. It was replaced by a double-track, through-truss, Strauss Trunnion Bascule lift span bridge in 1925 and is still in use (See: New FEC - St. Johns River Bridge). It runs adjacent to the Acosta Bridge which carries SR 13 over the St. Johns River.

I believe The Jacksonville Landing and the entrance to the John T Alsop, Jr. bridge now occupy the foreground.

The Barrows

I'm thinking they were used to carry coal for refueling ships. There appears to be some sort of conveyer leading up to the trestle to supply the barrows.

looks like a M.C. Escher drawing!

the chute connects with the warehouse side walkway...Odd!
I dare to say this framing was made on purpose.

Tall ships

I'm always surprised to see big & tall sailing ships around as late as 1910 -- or even WWII.

Upside down barrows

Something to do with that adjacent chute and unloading, no doubt, but I'm not really getting it. (At first I thought they were wagons but I see only one axle per device and I think I see some handles.)

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