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The Pioneer Steamship Savannah: A Study for a Scale Model United States National Museum Bulletin 228, 1961, pages 61-80   By: (1901-1975)

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In the United States National Museum Bulletin 228, Howard I. Chapelle delves into an in-depth study of The Pioneer Steamship Savannah, showcasing his extensive knowledge of maritime history and architecture. With meticulous attention to detail, Chapelle explores the construction and design evolution of this iconic steamship, providing valuable insights into its significance as a pioneer vessel in the early 19th century.

The book, written in 1961, takes readers on a journey through history, tracing the origins of steam-powered ships and the technological advancements that led to their development. Chapelle's expertise shines through as he presents a thorough analysis of the Savannah, discussing its innovative propulsion system, hull design, and overall structure. His meticulous research is evident in the wealth of historical references and detailed drawings that accompany the text.

What sets this study apart is Chapelle's commitment to creating a comprehensive resource for those interested in shipbuilding and maritime history. His descriptions of the Savannah's layout, including its cabins, machinery, and various compartments, provide an invaluable resource for historians, ship enthusiasts, and model builders seeking accuracy. Furthermore, his ability to interpret the vessel's significance within the context of maritime trade and American industrialization adds an extra layer of depth to the book.

While the subject matter may be highly technical or specialized for some readers, Chapelle's clear and concise writing style ensures that even those unfamiliar with shipbuilding can grasp the main points. Moreover, the inclusion of unique illustrations and detailed scale models greatly enhance the reader's understanding of the Savannah's architectural intricacies.

Although published over half a century ago, Chapelle's study remains relevant and influential in its field. His meticulous research and dedication to accuracy make this book an essential resource for maritime historians, ship enthusiasts, and model builders. The Pioneer Steamship Savannah offers a comprehensive and immersive exploration of a vessel that played a pivotal role in transforming maritime transportation.

First Page:

Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology: Paper 21


A Study for a Scale Model



Howard I. Chapelle

The Pioneer Steamship


A Study for a Scale Model

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.

The United States National Museum has in its watercraft collection a rigged scale model purported to be of the pioneer transatlantic steamer Savannah ... Continue reading book >>

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