August 26, 2010

The steamer Cottage City

The above Case and Draper 1905 photograph of the steamship Cottage City  was a wooden hull built by New England Shipbuilding Company in 1890, 1 mile upriver from Bath Iron Works where it was completed. It was marked as the first ship manufactured at the New England Shipbuilding Company in partnership with what was to become the Bath Iron Works, both located on the Kennebec River at Bath, Maine. The 232-foot-long Cottage City was an important milestone in the history of American shipbuilding. Although built as a coastal steamer, with a wooden hull launched in February, 1890, and her machinery installed by the Bath Iron Works by the end of that year, the Cottage City was a successful venture and its launch lead to an order for a sister ship, the Manhattan. After that came contracts for the iron and steel-hulled warships. She ran between Portland and New York City for 7-1/2 years. Then sold and used to transport passengers and freight between Seattle, Washington and Alaska. It serviced Alaska from 1898 until  January 26,1911.

This is the same steamer that in 1898, after Soapy was killed, transported the four Soap Gang members (Foster, Bowers, Jackson and Triplett) who robbed miner John Stewart, out of Skagway for trial and prison. Bowers and Foster were charged with larceny, or theft, and assault and battery while Triplett was charged with larceny only. They were all found guilty, sentenced, and taken aboard the steamer Cottage City for transport to Sitka to serve their sentences.

January 26, 1911 the steamer wrecked in a severe winter gale along the Canadian coast. The details of the wreck are sketchy at best. From the best information the Cottage City was caught in a blinding snowstorm and heavy fog and went on a reef off Quadra Island, North British Columbia. The ship was equipped with radio telegraph equipment so an S.O.S. call brought help from Victoria, British Columbia, and Port Townsend, Washington. Everybody on the wreck was rescued, but the Cottage City was lost.

Source: True Stories Of Ships And The Men That Sailed Them


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