Buffalo in Erie County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Improvements in Ship Design
The Industrial Heritage Trail
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
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.
Erected by The Industrial Heritage Committee, Inc.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Erie Canal marker series.
Location. 42° 50.046′ N, 78° 51.288′ W. Marker is in Buffalo, New York, in Erie County. Marker is on Fuhrmann Boulevard ¼ mile south of Ohio Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Buffalo NY 14203, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Early Lake Erie Water Craft (here, next to this marker); The Great Lakes (here, next to this marker); Lake Erie (here, next to this marker); The Union Ship Canal (here, next to this marker); The Lehigh Portland Cement Company (here, next to this marker); Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna (a few steps from this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Buffalo.
Categories. • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 120 times since then and 50 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on , by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.