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Rigged: 1900

Circa 1900. "Cruiser U.S.S. Newark." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.

Circa 1900. "Cruiser U.S.S. Newark." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.


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Mighty Sailing Adventure

These comments and amazing photo reminded me of the incredible Cinemiracle movie from 1957 called 'Windjammer' - a Norwegian cadet training ship built at the turn of the 20thC.

If you haven't seen it and admire the romance, crew skills and beauty of sailing ships, I thoroughly recommend getting a copy on Bluray (make to sure to get the latter restoration ca 2017 version)

Ramming speed

The reason the Newark didn't have a clipper-type curved bow is that she sported an armored ram just below the waterline. Many of the U.S. Navy's early steel warships included this design feature, which was of dubious value in actual combat.

Where's the soot?

Amazing how the mainmast is not totally soot-covered from being located immediately behind the stacks - the crew must keep busy keeping the mainmast and mizzenmast (and all the related yards, sails and crow's nests) clean!

Royal Caribbean white

Probably not the most practical color for a naval vessel, especially when crowned with ochre topsides and bituminous black smoke. Practicality is not paramount in 1900: the iron men of the secondary gun crews need no armor protection below the waist. The roof armor of the casemates is angled to deflect splintered projectiles into the bottoms of the overhanging boats. Floating boats would be handy should you win second place in a gunnery duel.

Old fashioned

Climbing the masts and manoeuvring the sails is still part of the training of the Italian Navy academy cadets. Here the future officers undergoing exercise aboard Vessel Amerigo Vespucci.

Pointy ends

I've long wondered why the bow in those days was nearly vertical and what kind of thinking went into that design. Prior sailing ships always had a sloping bow as did later Navy vessels. But this era had a much different profile.

... and I have my own harrowing tale of touching the very top of USS Gridley while in the Long Beach shipyard, circa 1983.


This is the nicest-looking thing called 'Newark' that I have ever seen. Of course, the views from the coal bunker and the powder magazines were probably less gratifying.


As a 12 year old, I would have loved to go climbing up to the top. By the time I got to my 20s, and was doing a lot of sailing, climbing the rigging had lost its allure.

Me timbers would be shivering

You know what? I'll pass on climbing up that mast to even the lowest spar and then walking out along a rope so I can balance on that rope while working with heavy sail canvas. I think I'll just stay down here and swab a deck.

High Wire Act

I wonder how many men got their aerial training in the U. S. Navy before resigning to join Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Stepping on!

Having worked on several square-rigged vessels when I was younger, I can honestly say standing on the foot-ropes and making your way out to the end of the yard on the t'gallant (topgallant, third yard up) to furl or let loose sail is fun. We'd wear safety harnesses ... these men didn't. For safety, you'd let the others already out there know that you were about to "step on" -- the added weight lifts the closest guy to you up a bit and can be bit of a surprise if he isn't expecting it.

They aren't called "sail-ors" for nothing.

Many of us I think might be amazed that a frontline ship in the USN in the 20th Century would still have auxiliary sail. Well be amazed.

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