The Chesapeake launched, 1883The Chesapeake launched, 1883
Wheeling Intelligencer, July 10, 1883 --
THE FASTEST BOAT ON THE RIVER
Makes its Trial Trip -- General Levee Gossip.
Yesterday morning at 9 o'clock the new Chesapeake backed out fromthe levee and started on its trial trip, not returning until noon.Soon after she had been made fast at her new mooring, under thebridge, being taken there to make room at the lower landing for thehulls of two new boats that are to arrive this week, andINTELLIGENCER man boarded the Chesapeake and meeting Mr. JohnSweeney, who has superintended the building, asked him how he waspleased with his work. “I'm perfectly satisfied,” saidhe, “that the Chesapeake is the fastest boat on the Ohio river.She can beat the Minnie Bay, and she, you know, has been passingalmost everything. You can safely say she is the fastest steamerafloat on the Ohio.”
The building of the Chesapeake was contracted for by A. J. Sweeney& Son, of this city, who have been busily engaged during the pasttwo years building steamers. They have acquired a splendid reputationall along the river and down on the Mississippi even; the boatsturned out by them have all been good ones, but the Chesapeake leadsthem all, both as to speed and style and finish. She is being builtfor the Chesapeake Packet Co., of Gallipolis, of which Capts. Ed andLou Maddy are large stockholders, and they will have charge of thenew boat. Her hull was built at Harmar by Knox, and is a little outof the usual shape. To all appearances, as she lies in the water, shehas a hollow water line, and many unfavorable comments have been madeabout this by old river men, who predicted that she would make toobig a break in the water to make any speed. But this is not the case;she is pinched in very sharp at the stem and gradually swells out anddown. The result is, she make no perceptible break until the wheelsare reached. Instead, she cuts the water and climbs or rides on topas smoothly as though she were greased.
The dimensions of the boat are, 188 feet long over all; beam 26feet; hold 5 feet; engines, 16 inches diameter cylinders with 5 footstroke; three boilers with two flues each, 24 feet long and 40 inchesin diameter, constructed of 70,000 tensile strength steel; she is asidewheeler, the wheels being 20 feet in diameter, with 15 arms and10 foot buckets. The cabin is full length, with thirty-six stateroomsand a handsome office and a spacious ladies' cabin, and furnished inhard woods. The retiring rooms, pantry, etc. are on the guards. Fromthe ladies' cabin a good view can be obtained the full length of thecabin and out the stern windows, which cannot be done on other boats;this allows of better ventilation. The Texas has sixteen berths andtwo small sitting rooms. The pilot house is a roomy one. From thehurricane deck to the hull deck there are four staircases, makingescape easy in case of a panic. The carpets, furniture, etc., will beput on at Gallipolis. Everything else will be done here.
The tiller-ropes run down under the hull-deck, and this allows aswinging stage at stem and stern, thus avoiding turning when making alanding when going down stream. She is lighted by 40 electric lights.There is no coal-box, but instead ten large coal-cars that are stowedin the hold except when wanted. In addition to the battery of boilersthere is a small upright boiler than can be used to run the donkey,doctor or electric light. In going down yesterday the boat justboomed along. In returning, big 12 miles an hour was made against aheavy headway (the river was rising fast) on 160 pounds of steam; 175is allowed. Steam was made very fast, and the boat steeredbeautifully. The growlers predicted that the shape of the bull wouldmake it difficult to handle the boat, but she went down over Captinabar under full head and minded the slightest turn of the wheel.George Knox, who is to be head engineer, was immensely pleased andcould not say things nice enough.
“Another thing about this boat,” said Mr. Sweeney, “itdon't shake any more than the Bay, although it hasn't the 'staggered'wheel. In place of that style of wheel, we have the old fashionedone, thus gaining power, but to steady things there are heavy bracesfrom the outer end of the water wheel beam to the other head of thethwarship chain brace. That's another innovation in sidewheelers.”
Captains Ed and Lou Maddy were on board during the trip and werecharmed with everything. They spoke very highly of the work of theSweeneys. It will take about two weeks longer to complete the boat.Before she leaves for her trade there will be an electric light trialtrip.
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