U.S. Shipbuilders from Before WWI

The 19th century was a period of transition for the shipbuilding industry, as it moved from wooden sailing ships to wooden steam ships to iron steam ships.  In the U.S., the years from 1830 to the Civil War were boom years, as the industrial revolution drove increasing volumes of trade and U.S. shipyards built hundreds of full-rigged ships and schooners for both north-south and east-west trade, transoceanic and coastal.  After the Civil War, however, the surplus ships were sold off and most of the remaining builders of wooden ships went out of business, leaving only those yards which had invested in the capital-intensive facilities needed for iron shipbuilding.  As a result, we can effectively date the modern shipbuilding industry from 1865 and concentrate here on those yards that were active in the 50 years between the Civil War and World War One.  Documenting the construction records of these yards is not, however, simple.  When I started this monster of a web site, I had not planned to go back into the 19th  century, but now, thanks to the growth of internet resources such as Google Books, it is becoming feasible.  So, this section addresses that 50-year period when our industry got going.  Note that there are quite a few shipbuilders that were not only significant in the 50-year pre-WWI era but continued to be significant for many years later - Newport News, for example - as a result of which they are already included in another section of this web site.  This section is, therefore, confined to those shipbuilders that were active before World War One, i.e., were not emergency yards, but were gone by the time World War One ended.  Note also that these yards built deep-draft vessels designed to carry cargo and/or passengers: they did not generally build fishing vessels, tugs or other types of work boat.


Atlantic Coast - Maine (14)

Bowker, Frank, & Sons

Phippsburg ME

Cobb, Butler & Co.

Rockland ME

G. G. Deering

Bath ME

William T. Donnell (formerly Deering & Donnell)

Bath ME

Dunn, T. W., & Co.

Thomaston ME

Flint & Chapman (later Flint & Co., John McDonald)

Bath ME

Houghton Bros.

Bath ME

Kelley, Spear

Bath ME

Percy & Small

Bath ME

Rogers, William

Bath ME

Sawyer Shipyards

Millbridge ME

Stetson, E. & I. K.

Brewer ME

Texas Steamship (formerly New England SB and Arthur Sewell & Co.)

Bath ME

Welt, Reed & Co.

Waldoboro ME

Other Bath Shipbuilders

Bath ME

Other Maine Shipbuilders


Atlantic Coast - Other New England (10)

Atlantic Iron Works

East Boston MA

City Point Iron Works (formerly Harrison Loring)

South Boston MA

Eastern Shipbuilding

Groton CT

Gildersleeve Shipbuilding

Gildersleeve (Portland) CT

John F. James (formerly James & Tarr)

Essex MA

McKay, Donald

East Boston MA

McKie, William

East Boston MA

Montgomery & Howard

Chelsea MA

Palmer & Son, Robert (later Groton IW and Noank SB)

Noank CT

Story, Arthur D.

Essex MA

Other New England Shipbuilders

Atlantic Coast - New York City Area (12)

Bayles Shipyard (later New York Harbor DD Co.)

Port Jefferson NY

Other Shipyards in Port Jefferson

Port Jefferson NY

Devine Burtis

Red Hook NY

Continental IW (formerly Sneeden & Co. and Sneeden & Rowland)

Greenpoint NY

Delamater IW (formerly Phoenix Foundry and Hogg & Delamater)

New York/Brooklyn NY

John Englis & Son

New York/Greenpoint NY

Lawrence & Foulks

Williamsburg/Greenpoint NY

Perrine, Patterson & Stack (later Thomas Stack)

Williamsburg NY

Henry Steers (formerly James R. & George Steers)

Greenpoint NY

Ward, Stanton (later James Bigler, Marvel Shipbuilding)

Newburgh NY

Eckford Webb (later Webb & Bell)

Greenpoint NY

William H. Webb (formerly Webb & Allen)

New York NY

West Point Foundry

Cold Spring NY

Other New York City Area Shipbuilders

Atlantic Coast - South of New York (7)

American Shipbuilding

Philadelphia PA

John H. Dialogue & Co.

Camden NJ

Hillman Ship & Engine Building

Philadelphia PA

Neafie & Levy Ship & Engine Building Co

Philadelphia PA

Reeder & Sons, Charles

Baltimore MD

Trigg Co., William R.

Richmond VA

Woodall & Co. (formerly Fardy & Woodall)

Baltimore MD

Other South Atlantic Shipbuilders

Gulf Coast

Other Gulf Coast Shipbuilders

Inland and Great Lakes (27)

Anderson, Alex

Marine City MI

Bell, David (Bell's Steam Engine Works)

Buffalo NY

Cleveland Shipbuilding

Cleveland and Lorain OH

Cowles Shipyard

Buffalo NY

Davidson Shipbuilding

West Bay City MI

Empire Shipbuilding

Buffalo NY

Gibson, Samuel (King Iron Works)

Buffalo NY

Goble, George

Oswego NY

Howard Shipyard & Dock Co. (later JeffBoat)

Jeffersonville IN

Jenks Shipbuilding

Port Huron MI

Johnston Boiler

Ferrysburg MI

Langell, Simon

St. Clair MI

Milwaukee Shipyard

Milwaukee WI

Morley & Hill

Marine City MI

Quayle & Sons

Cleveland OH

Racine Boat Manufacturing

Racine WI/Muskegon MI

Radcliffe, William H.

Cleveland OH

Rees and Son, James

Pittsburgh PA

Robertson, Duncan

Grand Haven MI

Swift & Co., Alexander

Cincinnati OH

Turner, A. A.

Trenton MI

Union Iron Works (James B. Eads)

Carondelet MO

Charles Ward Engineering

Charleston WV

Wheeler Shipbuilding (later West Bay City SB)

West Bay City MI

Wolf & Davidson

Milwaukee WI

Other Inland Shipbuilders

Pacific Coast (8)

Babare Bros.

Tacoma WA

Bendixsen Shipbuilding

Fairhaven CA

Crawford & Reid

Tacoma WA

Dickie Bros. (later John W. Dickie & Son)

San Francisco CA/Alameda CA

Lindstrom Shipbuilding  (later Grays Harbor Motor Ship)

Aberdeen WA

Matthews Shipbuilding

Hoquiam WA

Nilson & Kelez

Seattle WA

Wolf & Zwicker Iron Works

Portland OR

Other Pacific Coast Shipbuilders

Significant Shipyards that Were Gone by the End of the Civil War (6)

Brown & Bell

New York NY

Collyer, Thomas and William

New York NY

Continental Iron Works

Vallejo CA

Roosevelt, Joyce & Co.

New York NY

Simonson, Jeremiah

Greenpoint NY

Westervelt & Son

New York NY