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The Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works, Chester PA

(formerly Reaney, Son & Archbold [1857-1870], later Chester Shipbuilding [1913-1917] and Merchant Shipbuilding [1917-1923])

Most recent update: October 21, 2013.


A Philadelphia shipbuilder named Thomas Reaney left Reaney, Neafie & Levy in 1859 to start his own shipyard in Chester, called Reaney, Son & Archbold.  Over the next 11 years, he built 6 naval combatants, 20 cargo ships, 17 tugs and 8 smaller craft, an average of almost five boats a year.  He was undercapitalized, however and when he ran out of work in the slump that followed the Civil War, he was forced to sell the yard to a New York industrialist named John Roach, who renamed it The Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works, although it was widely known just as Roach's Shipyard and is often referred to as John Roach & Sons, although that was never the name of the shipyard but was the name of its parent company.  Roach was an Irish immigrant who had become a major manufacturer of marine engines, owning both Aetna Iron Works and Morgan Iron Works.  Roach invested heavily in big cranes, steam engines and state-of-the-art machinery, all of which were intended to lower the cost of building a ship and he started several other companies in the region which could supply the shipyard with most of its material.  By 1887, the shipyard was the largest in the U.S., but John Roach died, his older son, John Baker Roach, took over and the company declined and closed when John Baker Roach died in 1908. 

In 1913, the idle shipyard was bought by a retired US Navy Captain named Charles Jack and reopened as Chester Shipbuilding Company.  The onset of World War I made the yard's size and potential capability very attractive, but Jack did not have the money needed to re-equip it and in 1917 he sold it to Averell Harriman's American Ship & Commerce Corporation, which renamed it Merchant Shipbuilding Company and set about turning it into a mass-production ship assembly facility, along the lines of the Hog Island yard in Philadelphia and the Submarine Boat yard in Newark NJ.  It is ironic that this approach to shipbuilding, so effective in both WWI and WWII, was quite the opposite of John Roach's approach.  In any case, the new owners soon decided that the Chester yard was not nearly as suitable for mass production as they had thought and they set up a wholly new yard upstream, in the Bristol section of Philadelphia.  The Chester yard continued in operation, however, closing for good in 1924. 

The shipyard occupied 23 acres along about 1,200 feet of Chester's industrial waterfront, stretching from Pennell Street to Fulton Street along West Front Street, just north of the present-day Commodore Barry bridge.  It had ten building berths and six wet berths, although there is no sign of any of them today.  After it closed in 1924, the site was redeveloped as a Ford assembly plant.  That plant closed in 1961 and the site has been idle ever since.  See the site from the air on Google here.  If anyone can fill any of the gaps in the table below, please e-mail me at timcolton@aol.com

Hull # O.N. Name Owner Type GT Delivery Disposition

Built by Reaney, Son & Archbold (1857-1870)

1   Starlight   Tug 74 1861  
2 na         1861 Saw mill engines
3   William B. Reaney Reaney, Son & Archbold Tug 104 1861  
4   Union   Tug 121 1861  
5 na         1861 Engines only
6   American Eagle   Tug 63 1861  
7   Clyde Thomas Clyde Tug 96 1862  
8 na         1862 Engines only
9   James J. Green   Barge   1862  
10   Paul Green   Barge   1862  
11   William Stroud   Barge   1862  
12 na         1862 Engines only
13 na         1862 Engines only
14 na         1862 Engines only
15 na         1862 Engines only
16 na         1862 Engines only
17   American Union   Tug 74 1862  
18   Caroline   Tug   1862  
19   Hope   Tug 111 1862  
20 na Conestoga/Sangamon U.S. Navy Monitor 1,875d 9-Feb-63 Later Jason 1869, scrapped 1904
21 na Lehigh U.S. Navy Monitor 1,875d 15-Apr-63 Scrapped 1904
22 na Wateree U.S. Navy Gunboat 974d 20-Jan-64  
23 na         1862 Engines only
24 na         1863 Engines only
25 na         1863 Engines only
26 na         1862 Engines only
27 na         1863 Engines only
28   Rebecca Clyde Thomas Clyde Psgr./Cargo 446 1863  
29   Helen Brook   Tug 26 1863  
30 na           Engines only
31   Mayflower   Psgr./Cargo 164 1864  
32 na Tunxis U.S. Navy Ironclad 614d 12-Jul-64 Later Hydra 1869, Otsego 1869, scrapped 1874
33 na Suwanee U.S. Navy Gunboat 1,370d 23-Jan-65  
34 na Shamokin U.S. Navy Gunboat 1,370d 17-Jul-65  
35 na Olando U.S. Navy        
36 na           Machine shop engine
37 na Pinta U.S. Navy Tug 420d Oct-65 Struck 1908
38 na Nina U.S. Navy Tug 420d Sep-65  
39   Hudson   Tug 163 1864  
40   Admiral   Tug   1864  
41   Liberty   Tug 150 1864  
42 na           Engines only
43 na           Engines only
44   Pawtucket   Barge      
45 na         1864 Engines only
46   Wm. P. Clyde Thomas Clyde Psgr./Cargo 504 1865  
47 4919 Croatan Norfolk Psgr./Cargo 22 1864  
48 na           Engines only
49 na           Engines only
50 na           Engines only
51   Edwin Forrest   Psgr./Cargo 607 1865  
52   Washington   Psgr./Cargo 472    
53   Commodore   Tug 50    
54   Alice Port Deposit Co. Psgr./Cargo 147 1865  
55 na           Reconstruction
56 na           Boiler Shop engine
57 na           Stock engine
58 na           Engines only
59   Thomas Kelso Baytime SS Co. Psgr./Cargo 1,430 1865  
60   Lamokin Phil. & Chester Cargo Ship 167 1865  
61 na           Stock engine
62 na           Engines only
63 na           Saw mill engine
64 na           Boilers
65   Samuel M. Felton P. W. & B. RR Cargo Ship 671 1866  
66 na           Engines only
67 na           Engines only
68 na           Engines only
69 na           Engines only
70 na           Blast engine
71 na           Blast engine
72 na           Repairs only
73   Tioga Savannah SS Co. Psgr./Cargo 1,074 1867  
74 na           Steam fire engine
75 na           Condensers
76 na           Boilers only
77 na           Boilers only
78 na           Boilers only
79 na           Stock boilers
80 na            
81 na           Engines only
82   Volunteer Jacob Lorillard Cargo Ship 611 Oct-68  
83   Novelty New York Company Cargo Ship 303 1870  
84 na           Engines only
85 na           Overhaul
86 na           Saw mill engine
87 na           Saw mill engine
88 na           Reconstruction
89 na           Reconstruction
90 na           Reconstruction
91   Rattlesnake Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 404 Mar-69  
92   Centipede Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 436 Aug-69  
93   Panther Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 711 Mar-70  
94   Achilles Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 763 Feb-70  
95 95037 Hercules Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 764 1870  
96 na           Boilers only
97 na           Ruddick's patent
98 na           Reconstruction
99   Regulator Jacob Lorillard Cargo Ship 847 Nov-69  
100 na           Hoisting engine
101 na           Schooner
102   Millie May   Tug   1869  
103 2722 Benefactor Jacob Lorillard Schooner 843 May-70  
104 na           Engines only
105 na           Repairs only
106 na           Repairs only
107 na           Repairs only
108 na           Repairs only
109 na           Repairs only
110   Ella Wood No.2   Tug 44 1870  
111   Elizabeth          
112 na         1871 Reconstruction
113 na         1871 Repairs Only
114       Launch   1871  
115   Vindex R. Center Yacht 36 1871  
116       Launch   1871  
117 na         1871 Repairs Only

Built by Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works as a subsidiary of J. Roach & Sons (1871-1887)

118   City of Houston C H Mallory & Co. Cargo Ship 1,253 Apr-71  
119 125040 City of San Antonio C H Mallory & Co. Schooner 1,605 Mar-72  
120 85425 Garden City East River Ferry Co. Ferry 825 Sep-72 Barge 1916
121 na         1873 Engines only
122 125002 City of Chester Oregon S.S. Co. Cargo Ship 935 Apr-73 In collision and sank 1888
123 125099 Colon Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,686 Nov-73  
124 na         1873 Reconstruction
125 na         1873 Repowering
126 na         1873 Repowering
127 na         1873 Repowering
128   Colima  Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,906 Apr-73  
129 8930 Erie Erie Railway Co. Ferry 981 1873 Later Ridgewood, deleted 1915
130 125625 City of Peking Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 5,080 Aug-74 Scrapped 1910
131   City of Tokio Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 5,079 May-74 Wrecked off Yokohama 1885
132 115133 Sarah J. Fleming   Barge   1874  
133   City of Waco C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 1,486 Aug-73  
134   Perkiomen Phila & Reading R.R. Co. Cargo Ship 1,035 May-74 In collision and sank 1885
135 2905 Berks Phila & Reading R.R. Co. Cargo Ship 565 May-74 Later barge W. S. Calvert 1906, En-Ar-Co 1921, scrapped 1969
136 115228 State of Texas C H Mallory & Co. Schooner 1,736 Jan-74 Later Idaho
137 125204 City of Panama Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 1,490 Sep-73 Later Olga M.
138   City of Guatemala Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 1,505 Dec-73  
139 na         1873 Repairs only
140 na         1873 Repairs only
141 85321 George W Elder Old Dominion S S Co. Pass. Cargo 1,710 Feb-74 Later America 1920, scrapped 1935
142   George E Weed John Roach & Sons Tug 30 1874  
143 na Alliance U.S. Navy Gunboat 1,020d 15-Nov-75 Later Huron
144 na Alert U.S. Navy Gunboat 1,020d 27-May-75 Converted 1912 to AS 4, scrapped 1922
145 na         1874 Repairs only
146 na         Nov-76 Repairs only
147 na         1874 Repairs only
148 na         Nov-76 Repowering
149 na         1875 Repowering
150   City of San Francisco Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,009 Jun-75 Foundered off Tartar Shoal 1877
151   City of New York Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,020 Aug-75 Wrecked off Point Bonita CA 1893
152 125470 City of Sydney Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,017 Sep-75 Abandoned by 1930
153 na         Aug-75 Scrapped
154 na         Aug-75 Scrapped
155 na         Aug-75 Scrapped
156 na         Aug-75 Scrapped
157 na Miantonomoh (BM 5) U.S. Navy Monitor   3,990d 27-Oct-91 Completed 1891, sold 1922
158 na           Scrapped
159 na Graciosa Spanish Navy Gunboat 72d 1875  
160 na Puritan (BM 1) U.S. Navy Monitor   6,060d 12-Oct-96 Completed 1896 by NY Navy Yard, sold 1922
161 na         1877 Scrapped
162 130055 New Berne Old Dominion S S Co. Cargo Ship 412 1875 Deleted 1910
163 na           Reconstruction
164 na           Reconstruction
165 na           Stock engines
166 na         1882 Scrapped
167 na         1875 Reconstruction
168 110303 Rio Grande C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,556 Dec-76 Scrapped 1922
169 130098 Niagara J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,265 Jun-77 Later Brunswick 1907, Truxillo 1919, scrapped 1926
170   Saratoga J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,265 Jul-77 Later Africa 1878, scrapped 1925
171     Pensacola NY Dry-Dock   1877  
172 125621 City of Macon Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 2,093 Oct-77 Later Lexington 1877, scrapped 1923
173   Western Texas C H Mallory & Co. Cargo Ship 1,121 Aug-77 Later Yaquina 1884, wrecked on Yaquina Bay bar 1887
174   Ancon Pacific Mail S S Co. Tender 105 1877  
175 125625 City of Washington Alexandre & Sons Pass. Cargo 2,635 Sep-77 Wrecked Craysfort Reef 1917
176   City of Savannah Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 2,029 Nov-77 Wrecked Huntington Island 1893
177 19485 Oregon Oregon Rly & Nav Co. Pass. Cargo 2,335 Feb-78 Wrecked off Cape Hinchenbrooke 1906
178 125640 City of Rio de Janeiro U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,548 Jun-78 Wrecked at Golden Gate 1901
179 125664 City of Para U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,532 Jun-78 Scrapped 1924
180   Juno   Tug 80 1879  
181 115640 Saratoga J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,426 Nov-78 Wrecked Prince William Sound 1908
182   City of Columbus Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 1,992 Jul-78 Wrecked on Devil's Bridge Rock 1884
183 85557 Gate City Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 1,997 Aug-78 Wrecked near Moriches Inlet 1900
184   Juan Mir Juan Mir Cargo Ship 423 Oct-78 Later Adela 1885, Rita 1900, burnt 1913
185 125734 Colorado C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,705 May-79 Later San Saba 1916, mined and lost 1918
186 115663 Santiago J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,359 May-79 Scrapped 1924
187 na Elias   Passenger 300 Jun-79 For use on the Amazon River
188   City of Alexandria NY & Cuba Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,480 Sep-79 Exploded and burnt 1893
189   Manhattan Old Dominion S S Co. Cargo Ship 1,525 Nov-79 In collision and sank 1889
190 140890 Louisiana Cromwell S S Line Pass. Cargo 2,840 Dec-79 Foundered in New Orleans 1905
191 na           Repairs only
192 na           Repairs only
193   Columbia Oregon S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,723 May-80 In collision off Eureka and sank 1907
194 130179 Newport Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,735 Aug-80 Scrapped 1930
195 3120 Breakwater Old Dominion S S Co. Cargo Ship 1,045 May-80 Wrecked near Puerto Mexico 1918
196   Yosemite William Belden Yacht 482 Dec-80 Later Acadia 1891, scrapped 1909
197 125868 City of Augusta Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 2,861 Aug-80 Scrapped 1924
198 80808 Willamette Oregon Rly & Nav Co. Pass. Cargo 2,269 Mar-81 Later Montara 1903, wrecked near Louisburg NS 1920
199 na         1881 Models for steam yacht
200 na         1881 Set of “blowing engines”
201 25242 Umatilla Oregon Improvement Co. Pass. Cargo 2,131 Jul-81 Wrecked off Inuboyesaki 1918
202 80839 Walla Walla Oregon Improvement Co. Pass. Cargo 2,135 Aug-81 In collision off Cape Mendocino 1902 and sank
203 125900 Cygnus Iron Steamboat Co. Passenger 857 May-81 Scrapped 1935
204 125904 Cepheus Iron Steamboat Co. Passenger 882 Jun-81 Later Shamrock 1933, scrapped 1935
205 115774 Sirius Iron Steamboat Co. Passenger 993 Jul-81 Later Ambassafor 1933, barge 1940, scrapped 1957
206   Guadalupe C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,839 Nov-81 Wrecked on Barnegat Shoals 1884
207 150280 Pilgrim Old Colony Steamboat Co. Pass. Cargo 3,484 Feb-83 Scrapped 1916
208 115813 San Marcos C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,839 Dec-81 Scrapped 1924
209 85715 Guyandotte Old Dominion S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,351 May-82 Later Cretan 1905, scrapped 1927
210 110515 Roanoke Old Dominion S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,354 Mar-82 Foundered off San Francisco 1916
211 na         1883 Engines only
212 na         1883 Engines only
213 115845 San Jose Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,081 Jun-82 Wrecked Asuncion Island 1921
214 115863 San Juan Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,076 Jul-82 In collision off Pigeon Point 1929 and sank
215 115873 San Blas Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,075 Aug-82 Wrecked off Libertad 1901
216 145320 Tallahassee Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 2,677 Sep-82 Later Persian 1905, scrapped 1928
217 126076 Chattahoochee Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 2,676 Nov-82 Later Quantico 1909, scrapped 1927
218 130249 Nacoochee                  Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 2,676 Nov-82 Scrapped 1924
219 120531 Finance U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,603 Jan-83 In collision off Sandy Hook 1908 and sank
220 106145 Advance U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,605 Mar-83 Wrecked off Halifax NS 1923
221   Reliance U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,604 Apr-83 Wrecked off Bahia harbor 1884
222   Cienfuegos J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,332 May-83 Wrecked near Harbor Island 1895
223 140640 Lampasas C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,943 Jul-83 Scrapped 1924
224 106198 Alamo C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,943 Aug-83 Scrapped 1924
225   Tillie E Starbuck W H Starbuck Cargo Ship 2,033 Apr-83  
226 25281 Utowana W E Conner Yacht 141 1883  
227 161521 Viking George S Scott Yacht 172 1883  
228 na No name Pacific Mail S S Co. Barge 170 1883  
229 na No name Pacific Mail S S Co. Barge 170 1883  
230 na No name Pacific Mail S S Co. Waterboat 170 1883    
231   Alaskan Oregon Rly & Nav Co. Cargo Ship 1,718 Sep-83 Foundered off Cape Blanco 1889
232 115979 Santa Rosa Pacific Coast S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,417 Dec-83 Wrecked Point Arguello 1911
233   City of Palatka G W Quintard Cargo Ship 883 Oct-83 Later Eastern Oregon 1887, burnt 1891
234 na           Not used
235   Sphinx H. F. Shoemaker Yacht 17 1881  
236 na Dolphin U.S. Navy Gunboat 1,509d 8-Dec-85 Later PG 24, sold 1922 as Plan de Guadelupe
237 na Atlanta U.S. Navy Cruiser 3,240d 19-Jul-86 Sold 1912
238 na Boston U.S. Navy Cruiser 3,240d 2-May-87 Later Despatch 1940, sunk as target 1946
239 na Chicago U.S. Navy Cruiser 4,842d 17-Apr-89 Later Alton 1928, sold 1936
240   Amazona S G de Oliviera & Co. Pass. Cargo 457 Nov-83 Deleted 1910
241 na         Feb-84 Engines only
242 126241 City of Topeka Oregon Improvement Co. Cargo Ship 1,057 Jun-84 Later Waimea 1921, scrapped 1932
243 116029 Seneca Old Dominion S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,729 Sep-84 In collision off Sandy Hook 1928 and sank
244 126316 Comal C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,935 Aug-85 Scrapped 1935
245 106443 Allianca U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,985 Sep-86 Scrapped 1923

Built by Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works (1887-1907)

246 130369 Nueces C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 3,367 Feb-87 Scrapped 1927
247 116199 Standard Standard Oil Co. Tank Barge 598 Apr-88 Later S. O. Co. No. 56 1891, S. T .Co. No. 56, Socony 56, abandoned 1935
248 150471 Puritan Old Colony Steamboat Co. Passenger 4,593 1889 Scrapped 1913
249 na Concord (PG 3) U.S. Navy Gunboat   1,710d 14-Feb-91 To PHS as quarantine ship 1914, sold 1929
250 164930 Bennington (PG 4) U.S. Navy Gunboat   1,710d 20-Jun-91 Sold 1910, scuttled 1924
251 126512 City of Birmingham Ocean S S Co Pass. Cargo 2,066 Jun-88 Wrecked off Castle Island 1907
252 126520 Clifton C H Mallory & Co. Yacht 154 Jun-88  
253 141027 Leona C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 3,328 Sep-89 Later Sabine 1901, scrapped 1923
254 14488 Kansas City New England & Savannah S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,679 Nov-89 Later Alaska 1916, wrecked Blunt's Reef 1921
255 27637 Yumuri J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 3,497 Jan-90 Later Badger 1898, Lawton 1900, Rose City 1907, barge 1930
256 155177 Orizaba J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 3,497 Feb-90 Later Northwestern 1906, bombed and lost 1942
257 150502 Plymouth Old Colony Steamboat Co. Passenger 3,771 Oct-90 Scrapped 1938
258 116344 Seguranca U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 4,033 Jul-90 Scrapped 1923
259 161643 Vigilancia U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 4,115 Nov-90 Torpedoed and lost 1917
260 27639 Yucatan J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 3,525 Sep-90 Later Shinkai Maru 1917, scrapped 1929
261 126719 Concho C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 3,724 Apr-91 Scrapped 1928
262 126741 Costa Rica Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 1,783 Jun-91 Scrapped 1935
263   Nicaragua Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 1,783 Jul-91  
264 na           Reconstruction
265 81386 Washington Pennsylvania R R Co. Ferry 1,247 Mar-92 To Delaware River interests 1937, scrapped 1952
266 126848 Colombia Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,617 Mar-92 Wrecked Pigeon Point 1896
267   Columbian Joy Line Passenger 704 Jun-92 Later Brookville 1906, Rapids Queen 1909, CD 110 1938, scuttled 1978 as breakwater at Queen City Yacht Club, in Toronto.
268 116528 SO Co. of  N.Y. No 57 Standard Oil Co. Tank Barge 1,381 1892  
269 136392 Emeline Stephen W Roach Yacht 80 1893  
270 150666 Priscilla Old Colony Steamboat Co. Passenger 5,292 Dec-93 Scrapped 1938
271 116599 SO Co of  N.Y. No 58 Standard Oil Co. Tank Barge 1,644 1893  
272 77127 Jamestown Old Dominion S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,898 Mar-94 Scrapped 1926
273 27660 Yorktown Old Dominion S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,898 May-94 Later Resolute 1898, Rawlins 1900, Powhatan 1902, Cuba 1920, Seneca 1925, burnt 1927
274 na           Repairs only
275 na           Repairs only
276 na