The original plans of the pioneer transatlantic steamer Savannah no longer exist, and many popular representations of the famous vessel have been based on a 70-year-old model in the United States National Museum. This model, however, differs in several important respects from contemporary illustrations.
To correct these apparent inaccuracies in a new, authentic model, a reconstruction of the original plans was undertaken, using as sources the ship's logbook and customhouse description, a French report on American steam vessels published in 1823, and Russian newspaper accounts contemporary with the Savannah's visit to St. Petersburg on her historic voyage of 1819. The development of this research and the resulting information in terms of her measurements and general description are related here.
The Author: Howard I. Chapelle is curator of transportation in the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
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