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.


City Most Recent Update


Atlantic Coast - Maine (14)

Bowker, Frank, & Sons

Phippsburg ME May-16

Cobb, Butler & Co.

Rockland ME Mar-17

G. G. Deering

Bath ME Apr-16

William T. Donnell (formerly Deering & Donnell)

Bath ME Apr-16

Dunn, T. W., & Co.

Thomaston ME May-16

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

Bath ME Apr-16

Houghton Bros.

Bath ME Apr-16

Kelley, Spear

Bath ME Apr-16

Percy & Small

Bath ME Apr-16

Rogers, William

Bath ME May-16

Sawyer Shipyards

Millbridge ME May-16

Stetson, E. & I. K.

Brewer ME May-16

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

Bath ME May-16

Welt, Reed & Co.

Waldoboro ME May-16

Other Bath Shipbuilders

Bath ME Apr-16

Other Maine Shipbuilders


Atlantic Coast - Other New England (10)

Atlantic Iron Works

East Boston MA May-16

City Point Iron Works (formerly Harrison Loring)

South Boston MA May-16

Eastern Shipbuilding

Groton CT May-16

Gildersleeve Shipbuilding

Gildersleeve (Portland) CT Jan-17

John F. James (formerly James & Tarr)

Essex MA May-16

McKay, Donald

East Boston MA May-16

McKie, William

East Boston MA May-16

Montgomery & Howard

Chelsea MA May-16

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

Noank CT May-16

Story, Arthur D.

Essex MA May-16

Other New England Shipbuilders


Atlantic Coast - New York City Area (12)

Bayles Shipyard (later New York Harbor DD Co.)

Port Jefferson NY May-17

Other Shipyards in Port Jefferson

Port Jefferson NY Aug-17

Devine Burtis

Red Hook NY May-16

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

Greenpoint NY May-16

Delamater IW (formerly Phoenix Foundry and Hogg & Delamater)

New York/Brooklyn NY May-16

John Englis & Son

New York/Greenpoint NY May-16

Lawrence & Foulks

Williamsburg/Greenpoint NY May-16

Perrine, Patterson & Stack (later Thomas Stack)

Williamsburg NY May-16

Henry Steers (formerly James R. & George Steers)

Greenpoint NY May-16

Ward, Stanton (later James Bigler, Marvel Shipbuilding)

Newburgh NY Oct-17

Eckford Webb (later Webb & Bell)

Greenpoint NY May-16

William H. Webb (formerly Webb & Allen)

New York NY Mar-12

West Point Foundry

Cold Spring NY May-08

Other New York City Area Shipbuilders


Atlantic Coast - South of New York (7)

American Shipbuilding

Philadelphia PA May-16

John H. Dialogue & Co.

Camden NJ May-16

Hillman Ship & Engine Building

Philadelphia PA May-16

Neafie & Levy Ship & Engine Building Co

Philadelphia PA Jan-18

Reeder & Sons, Charles

Baltimore MD May-16

Trigg Co., William R.

Richmond VA Nov-17

Woodall & Co. (formerly Fardy & Woodall)

Baltimore MD May-16

Other South Atlantic Shipbuilders


Gulf Coast

Other Gulf Coast Shipbuilders


Inland and Great Lakes (27)

Anderson, Alex

Marine City MI May-16

Bell, David (Bell's Steam Engine Works)

Buffalo NY Oct-16

Cleveland Shipbuilding

Cleveland and Lorain OH May-16

Cowles Shipyard

Buffalo NY May-16

Davidson Shipbuilding

West Bay City MI May-16

Empire Shipbuilding

Buffalo NY Oct-16

Gibson, Samuel (King Iron Works)

Buffalo NY Oct-16

Goble, George

Oswego NY May-16

Howard Shipyard & Dock Co. (later JeffBoat)

Jeffersonville IN May-16

Jenks Shipbuilding

Port Huron MI May-16

Johnston Boiler

Ferrysburg MI Aug-18

Langell, Simon

St. Clair MI May-16

Milwaukee Shipyard

Milwaukee WI May-16

Morley & Hill

Marine City MI May-16

Quayle & Sons

Cleveland OH May-16

Racine Boat Manufacturing

Racine WI/Muskegon MI May-16

Radcliffe, William H.

Cleveland OH May-16

Rees and Son, James

Pittsburgh PA May-16

Robertson, Duncan

Grand Haven MI May-17

Swift & Co., Alexander

Cincinnati OH Jul-10

Turner, A. A.

Trenton MI May-16

Union Iron Works (James B. Eads)

Carondelet MO May-16

Charles Ward Engineering

Charleston WV Nov-17

Wheeler Shipbuilding (later West Bay City SB)

West Bay City MI May-16

Wolf & Davidson

Milwaukee WI May-16

Other Inland Shipbuilders


Pacific Coast (8)

Babare Bros.

Tacoma WA May-16

Bendixsen Shipbuilding

Fairhaven CA Jan-17

Crawford & Reid

Tacoma WA May-16

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

San Francisco CA/Alameda CA May-16

Lindstrom Shipbuilding  (later Grays Harbor Motor Ship)

Aberdeen WA May-16

Matthews Shipbuilding

Hoquiam WA May-16

Nilson & Kelez

Seattle WA Aug-16

Wolf & Zwicker Iron Works

Portland OR May-16

Other Pacific Coast Shipbuilders


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

Brown & Bell

New York NY Jan-13

Collyer, Thomas and William

New York NY Jan-13

Continental Iron Works

Vallejo CA Jul-10

Roosevelt, Joyce & Co.

New York NY Jan-13

Simonson, Jeremiah

Greenpoint NY Jan-13

Westervelt & Son

New York NY Jan-13