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Old 04-12-2009, 06:09 PM
R. Dale Flick R. Dale Flick is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573

*RE: 'Gas/Electric Lighting on boats.'*
Hi, Ed and Steamboating colleagues:
Illumination by 'gas/electric plants' on steamboats etc. has a longer history than we think. Articles of the day are confirmed also in Capt. Fred Way's PACKET DIRECTORY listing the sidewheel GENERAL LYTLE of 1864 as having an electric light plant for an arc light aboard. The LYTLE was also listed early on as featuring the wearing of uniforms "of a blue cloth and caps" for each officer. The LYTLE also experienced a disastrous steamboat explosion while racing the ST. CHARLES.

The sidewheel Str. H.D. MEARS of 1860 was noted for her main cabin and Purser Office being illuminated by 'Johnson's Self Generating Gas' plant.

The sidewheel Str. NEW MARY HOUSTON of 1877 was noted for her electric light plant touted in Fred Way's PACKET DIRECTORY as, "...chaper and more brilliant than any light in existence outside of the sun and will supersede gas and come into general use throughout the world."

Previous to this oil lamps served and later replaced by cheaper coal oil fuel--though not as bright or 'smokeless' like whale oil. Whale oil was already expensive by the 1860s. Several recent experiments have been done using traditional whale oil just for laboratory use and calibration. Note old photos of steamboat cabins with oil lamps showing the china/porcelain 'smoke bells' suspended from above to catch the soot. Ice making plants were noted on some steamboats/steamships back in the early to mid 1880s.

Well, what do I know?

Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River.
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