The 19th century was a period of transition for the shipbuilding industry, as it moved from ships that were built of wood and powered by sail to ships that were built of iron and powered by steam.  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, burnt or scrapped and most of the remaining builders of wooden ships went out of business, leaving only those yards which had invested the considerable capital needed for iron shipbuilding and for steam propulsion.  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, and could be seen to be making the transition to iron and steam.  Despite the romance associated with the multi-masted sailing ships of the 19th century, therefore, these are not the primary subject of this web site. 

Documenting the construction records of these yards is not, however, simple.  First, it should be noted that there are quite a few shipbuilders that were not only significant before World War One but that continued to be significant for many years after World War One - Newport News, for example - as a result of which they are already included in the Large Shipbuilders section of this web site.  This section is, therefore, confined to those shipbuilders that were active before World War One, i.e., they were not emergency yards, but were gone by the time World War One ended, or shortly thereafter.  It should also be noted that these are generally yards that 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.

The first group below provides links to the tables for those yards who were still building large wooden hulls in the years between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War I, while the second group provides links to the tables for those yards who began building large iron hulls during that period.

Wooden Shipbuilders Active Between the Civil War and WWI (49)

Abbott Shipbuilding

Milford DE

American Shipbuilding

Philadelphia PA

Anderson, Alex

Marine City MI

Babare Bros. Shipbuilding

Tacoma WA

Bayles Shipyard (later New York Harbor DD Co.)

Port Jefferson NY

Bendixsen Shipbuilding

Fairhaven CA

Frank S. Bowker & Sons

Phippsburg ME

Brown & Bell

New York NY

Divine Burtis

Red Hook NY

Clooney Construction

Westlake LA

Cobb, Butler & Co.

Rockland ME

Collyer, Thomas and William

New York NY

Crawford & Reid

Tacoma WA

Davidson Shipbuilding

West Bay City MI

Dunn & Elliott

Thomaston ME

John Englis & Son

New York/Greenpoint NY

Flint & Chapman

Bath ME

Gildersleeve Shipbuilding

Gildersleeve (Portland) CT

Goble, George

Oswego NY

Goss & Sawyer (later Texas Steamship Co.)

Bath ME

Houghton Bros.

Bath ME

John F. James (formerly James & Tarr)

Essex MA

Langell, Simon

St. Clair MI

Lawrence & Foulks

Williamsburg/Greenpoint NY

Lindstrom Shipbuilding  (later Grays Harbor Motor Ship)

Aberdeen WA

Matthews Shipbuilding

Hoquiam WA

McKay, Donald

East Boston MA

Milwaukee Shipyard

Milwaukee WI

Morley & Hill

Marine City MI

Palmer & Son, Robert

Noank CT

Percy & Small

Bath ME

Perrine, Patterson & Stack (later Thomas Stack)

Williamsburg NY

Quayle & Sons

Cleveland OH

Racine Boat Manufacturing

Racine WI/Muskegon MI

Robertson, Duncan

Grand Haven MI

William Rogers & Son

Bath ME

Roosevelt, Joyce & Co.

New York NY

Sawyer Shipyards

Milbridge ME

Jeremiah Simonson

Greenpoint NY

Henry Steers (formerly James R. & George Steers)

Greenpoint NY

Stetson, E. & I. K.

Bath ME

Story, Arthur D.

Essex MA

Turner, A. A.

Trenton MI

Eckford Webb (later Webb & Bell)

Greenpoint NY

William H. Webb (formerly Webb & Allen)

New York NY

Welt, Reed & Co.

Waldoboro ME

Westervelt & Son

New York NY

Wolf & Davidson

Milwaukee WI

Woodall & Co. (formerly Fardy & Woodall)

Baltimore MD

Iron Shipbuilders Active Between the Civil War and WWI (34)

Atlantic Iron Works

East Boston MA

Bell, David (formerly Bell's Steam Engine Works)

Buffalo NY

City Point Iron Works (formerly Harrison Loring)

South Boston MA

Cleveland Shipbuilding

Cleveland/Lorain OH

Continental Iron Works (formerly Sneeden & Co. and Sneeden & Rowland)

Greenpoint NY

Cowles Shipyard

Buffalo NY

Deering & Donnell (later G. G. Deering and William T. Donnell)

Bath ME

Delamater IW (formerly Phoenix Foundry and Hogg & Delamater)

New York/Brooklyn NY

John H. Dialogue & Co. (formerly River Iron Works)

Camden NJ

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

San Francisco/Alameda CA

Eastern Shipbuilding

Groton CT

Empire Shipbuilding

Buffalo NY

Gibson, Samuel (King Iron Works)

Buffalo NY

Harlan & Hollingsworth (later Bethlehem Wilmington, Dravo Wilmington)

Wilmington DE

Hillman Ship & Engine Building

Philadelphia PA

Howard Shipyard & Dock Co. (later JeffBoat)

Jeffersonville IN

Jenks Shipbuilding

Port Huron MI

Johnston Boiler

Ferrysburg MI

Kelley, Spear

Bath ME

John W. Lynn

Philadelphia PA

McKie, William

East Boston MA

Montgomery & Howard

Chelsea MA

Neafie & Levy Ship & Engine Building Co

Philadelphia PA

Nilson & Kelez

Seattle WA

Radcliffe, William H.

Cleveland OH

Charles Reeder & Sons

Baltimore MD

Rees and Son, James

Pittsburgh PA

Swift & Co., Alexander

Cincinnati OH

Trigg Co., William R.

Richmond VA

Union Iron Works (James B. Eads) (formerly Carondelet Marine Railway Co.)

Carondelet MO

Charles Ward Engineering

Charleston WV

West Point Foundry

Cold Spring NY

Wheeler Shipbuilding (later West Bay City SB)

West Bay City MI

Wolff & Zwicker Iron Works

Portland OR

Other Pre-WWI Yards (6)

Other Pre-WWI Yards in New England


Other Pre-WWI Yards in New York


Other Pre-WWI Yards on the South Atlantic Coast


Other Pre-WWI Yards on the Gulf Coast


Other Pre-WWI Yards on the Great Lakes and Inland Waterways


Other Pre-WWI Yards on the Pacific Coast