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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Great Northern: 1900

Great Northern: 1900

Buffalo, New York, circa 1900. "Great Northern elevator and shipping." The freighters Andaste of Ishpeming, I.W. Nicholas and B.L. Pennington. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Schooner barge Pennington

Here's some history and a photograph of her under tow.

Schooner or Schooner Barge?

B.L. Pennington is rigged as a 3-masted schooner but the rig looks somewhat small for the size of the ship. No sails, booms, or gaffs are in evidence, but there's a funnel, forward of the foremast. It's too small to feed a propulsion engine and in the wrong part of the ship so I think it's a "Donkey boiler" driving auxiliary systems. These were common on oceangoing sailing ships of the period as a means of reducing crew size and cost by doing some of the heavy work like hoisting sails and anchors.

Hull form is bluff and quite ugly -- I doubt this ship could move much under sail, which brings up the possibility that it could be a "Schooner barge" designed to be towed most of the time by a tug, using sail as an auxiliary power source to save fuel in favorable conditions. This was a common arrangement on the East Coast but dates to a slightly later period there. I'm not sure if it was used on the Lakes at all.

Chapelle's "American Sailing Ships" does not have a specific chapter on the Lakes but he does include a few sentences on Great Lakes schooners in the schooner chapter. This discussion is too short and general to help much in this case; it says Lakes schooners rarely had masts all the same size but could have up to 5 masts. It is hard to imagine Pennington coming all the way up the St. Lawrence and through the locks, even with a tug helping.


Nice photo. Vessel on the left looks like a whaleback, and unusual Great Lakes type of freighter.

[Click the link in the caption. —Dave]

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