THE DELAWARE RIVER IRON SHIPBUILDING & ENGINE WORKS

Chester PA

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 Feet Delivery Disposition

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

1 23063 Starlight   Tug 74   1861  
2 na             Saw mill engines
3 21798 William B. Reaney Reaney, Son & Archbold Tug 104   1861  
4   Union   Tug 121   1861  
5 na             Engines only
6 292 American Eagle   Tug 63   1861  
7 5001 Clyde Thomas Clyde Tug 96   1862  
8 na             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
17 183 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 21769 Rebecca Clyde Thomas Clyde Psgr./Cargo 446   1863  
29 11040 Helen Brook   Tug 26   1863  
30 na             Engines only
31 17115 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 11652 Hudson   Tug 163   1864  
40   Admiral   Tug     1864  
41 15074 Liberty   Tug 150   1864  
42 na             Engines only
43 na             Engines only
44   Pawtucket   Barge     1864  
45 na             Engines only
46 25616 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 7901 Edwin Forrest   Psgr./Cargo 607   1865  
52 26625 Washington   Psgr./Cargo 472   1865  
53 5003 Commodore   Tug 50   1865  
54 967 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 24039 Thomas Kelso Baytime SS Co. Psgr./Cargo 1,430   1865  
60 15079 Lamokin Phil. & Chester Cargo Ship 167   1865  
61 na             Stock engine
62 na             Engines only
63 na             Saw mill engine
64 na             Boilers
65 23000 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 24433 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 25776 Volunteer Jacob Lorillard Cargo Ship 611   Oct-68  
83 18650 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 21903 Rattlesnake Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 404   Mar-69  
92 5753 Centipede Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 436   Aug-69  
93 20357 Panther Phila & Reading R.R. Co Cargo Ship 711   Mar-70  
94 1874 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 21916 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 8685 Ella Wood No.2   Tug 44   1870  
111 Foreign Elizabeth Central America          
112 na           1871 Reconstruction
113 na           1871 Repairs Only
114     Central America Launch     1871  
115 25906 Vindex R. Center Yacht 36   1871  
116     Central America Launch     1871  
117 na           1871 Repairs Only
118 5931 City of Houston C H Mallory & Co. Cargo Ship 1,253   Apr-71  

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

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 125153 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 125266 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 125177 City of Waco C H Mallory & Co. Pass. Cargo 1,486   Aug-73  
134 20479 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 125211 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 125445 City of San Francisco Pacific Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 3,009   Jun-75 Foundered off Tartar Shoal 1877
151 125460 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           1875 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 13098 Niagara J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,265   Jun-77 Later Brunswick 1907, Truxillo 1919, scrapped 1926
170 115543 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 80643 Western Texas C H Mallory & Co. Cargo Ship 1,121   Aug-77 Later Yaquina 1884, wrecked on Yaquina Bay bar 1887
174 Foreign 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 125629 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 76047 Juno   Tug 80   1879  
181 115640 Saratoga J E Ward & Co. Pass. Cargo 2,426   Nov-78 Wrecked Prince William Sound 1908
182 125687 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 76307 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 Foreign Elias   Passenger 300   Jun-79 For use on the Amazon River
188 125760 City of Alexandria NY & Cuba Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,480   Sep-79 Exploded and burnt 1893
189 91194 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 125801 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 27416 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 85690 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 110576 Reliance U S & Brazil Mail S S Co. Pass. Cargo 2,604   Apr-83 Wrecked off Bahia harbor 1884
222 126131 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 145333 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 106232 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 126176 City of Palatka G W Quintard Cargo Ship 883   Oct-83 Later Eastern Oregon 1887, burnt 1891
234 na             Not used
235 115775 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 Foreign Amazona S G de Oliviera & Co. Pass. Cargo 457   Nov-83 Deleted 1910
241 na           Feb-84