The Steamer ZEPHYR

23 Apr

The Zephyr.

     This is the name of a new and beautiful iron steamer just arrived in our waters, and built as a passenger boat to run between Fayetteville and this town.  The Zephyr was built at Wilmington, Del., by Messrs. Harlan & Hollingsworth, of iron; she has two superior engines with cylinders 14 inches in diameter, stroke 4 feet; is 134 feet long over all, 20 feet beam and draws 18 inches.  She is intended altogether for passengers and very light freight, and from the superiority of her model, strength of engines, and fleetness, the journey to and fro it is hoped will be performed in a  day each way.  This matter is to be tested, however, and a schedule of her trips will be published hereafter.  It has been ascertained that she can make 14 miles to the hour.  Her arrangements for passengers are complete and on a scale not only of neatness but of elegance.—  Our Line Steamers do not excel her in the beauty of finish or the comfort of accommodation.  The saloon is large, well ventilated, and handsomely fitted off, and the cabin arrangements are so made as to obviate the objection urged against other boats, which all who are familiar with the travel on the river will readily understand.  The Zephyr all in all is as pretty a boat as runs upon the River, and we commend her to the attention of our Fayetteville friends.  They will agree with us in the opinion, we think.  She is owned by the clan of McRae’s and we wish them much success in the enterprise.

By the bye, we are informed that the President of the W. & F. Passenger Line, D. McRae, Esq., has sent a mysterious missive to the Editor of the Journal, a copy of which runs thus:

“Complimentary Ticket.  James Fulton and Lady will pass free on steamer ‘Zephyr’ for one year.”

Did you ever read of such a sly dog!  His Lady, eh!  Come tell us all about it,— when does it come off!  Speak–unfold!

[Wilmington Herald — Wilmington, NC  —  December 15, 1852]

The Zephyr.

Tuesday afternoon we paid a visit to the new steamer by the above name, which has just arrived from Wilmington, Delaware, and is intended to run as a passenger boat between this place and Fayetteville.  She is 129 feet in length, 21 ½ feet beam, 5 ½ feet hold, — has two inclined engines, the combined power of which is over one hundred horse; the engines capable of being uncoupled, and acting separate; when tried on the Delaware river, she attained a speed of fourteen miles an hour.  She will not draw, with all on board, more than eighteen inches.

From the above dimensions, power and speed, it will be seen that the “Zephyr” is a  larger and more powerful class of boat than has heretofore been used in this business, at the same time that her draught of water is graduated expressly for the trade of the Cape Fear River.  She is fitted up in the most beautiful and convenient style, with all the modern appliances, and is equal in every respect to the Delaware or North River boats of a similar class.  Her saloon is 48 feet in length.-the ladies’ portion divided from the rest by handsome curtains; the woodwork painted white, and the panels ornamented with gilding, and decorated with papier mache scrowls, also gilt.  The windows between the saloon and the deck are fitted with stained glass.  Being intended as a day boat, she has no berths.  It is calculated that she will make the run up in about fourteen hours; that down in about ten hours.

Upon the whole, her appearance and general arrangement reflects credit upon her builders, Messrs. Harlan & Hollingsworth, Wilmington, Delaware and she promises to be a valuable addition to the trade of this place and Fayetteville.  We hope that she will receive the patronage which the enterprise of her owners, Gen. McRae, Col. John McRae, Capt. R. McRae, and it may be one of two others, richly deserves.  We believe that her cost has been about sixteen thousand dollars.  We think our Fayetteville friends will be equally pleased with her.

[Wilmington Journal – Friday, December 17, 1852]

Assorted Cape Fear River Steamer Ads 1853

Assorted Cape Fear River Steamer Ads 1853

[steamboat image]

THE New Iron Steamer Zephyr will leave Fayetteville every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 7 ½ o’clock.  Returning, will leave Wilmington every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning at 7 o’clock.  For freight or passage, apply to Captain R. McRae on board, or to

Agent at Fayetteville.

J. & D. McRAE & CO.
Agents at Wilmington.

[Fayetteville Observer, Thursday, January 20, 1853]

[Excerpt from The Cotton Kingdom by Frederick Law Olmsted – “The Carolinas” pp. 191 -194]

{Late January – February, 1853}

I left Fayetteville in a steamboat (advertised for 8 o’clock, left at 8.45) bound down Cape Fear River to Wilmington.  A description of the river, with incidents of the passage, will serve to show the character of most of the navigable streams of the cotton States, flowing into the Atlantic and the Gulf and of the manner of their navigation.

The water was eighteen feet above its lowest summer stages; the banks steep, thirty feet high from the present water surface – from fifty to one hundred feet apart – and covered with large trees and luxuriant vegetation; the course crooked; the current very rapid; the trees overhanging the banks, and frequently falling into the channel – making the navigation hazardous.  The river is subject to very rapid rising.  The master told me that he had sometimes left his boat aground at night, and, on returning in the morning, found it floating in twenty-five feet of water, over the same spot.  The difference between the extremes of low stages and floods is as much as seventy feet.  In summer, there are sometime but eighteen inches of water on the bars; the boat I was in drew but fourteen inches, light.  She was a stern – wheel craft – the boiler and engine (high pressure) being placed at opposite ends, to balance weights.  Her burden was three hundred barrels, or sixty tons measurement.  This is the character of most of the boats navigating the river – of which there are now twelve.  Larger boats are almost useless in summer, from their liability to ground; and even the smaller ones, at low stages of water, carry no freight, but are employed to tow up “flats” or shallow barges.  At this season of the year, however, the steamboats are loaded close to the water’s edge.

The bulk of our freight was turpentine; and the close proximity of this to the furnaces suggested a danger fully equal to that from snags or grounding.  On calling the attention of the fellow – passenger to it he told me that a friend of his was once awakened from sleep, while lying in a berth on one of these boats, by a sudden, confused sound.  Thinking the boiler had burst, he drew the bed-clothing over his head, and lay quiet, to avoid breathing the steam; until, feeling the boat ground, he ran out, and discovered that she was on fire near the furnace.  Having some valuable freight near by, which he was desirous to save, and seeing no immediate danger, though left alone on the boat, he snatched a bucket, and, drawing water from alongside, applied it with such skill and rapidity as soon to quench the flames, and eventually to entirely extinguished the fire.  Upon the return of the crew, a few repairs were made, steam was got up again, and the boat proceeded to her destination in safety.  He afterwards ascertained that three hundred kegs of gunpowder were stowed beneath the deck that had been on fire – a circumstance which sufficiently accounted for the panic – flight of the crew.

Soon after leaving, we passed the Zephyr, wooding up: an hour later, our own boat was run to the bank, men jumped from her fore and aft, and fastened head and stern lines to the trees, and we also commenced wooding.

The trees had been cut away so as to leave a clear space to the top of the bank, which was some fifty feet from the boat, and moderately steep.  Wood, cut, split, and piled in ranks, stood at the tope of it, and a chute of plank, two feet wide and thirty long, conveyed it nearly to the water.  The crew rushed to the wood – piles – master, passengers, and all, but ht engineer and chambermaid, deserting the boat – and the wood was first passed down, as many as could, throwing into the chute, and others forming a line, and tossing it, from one to another, down the bank.  From the water’s edge it was passed, in the same way, to its place on board, with great rapidity – the crew exciting themselves with yells.  They were al blacks, but one.

On a tree, near the top of the bank, a little box was nailed, on which a piece of paper was tacked, with this inscription:

”  Notic

” to all persons takin wood from this landin pleas to leav a

” ticket payable to the subscriber, at $1,75 a cord as heretofore.

” Amos Sikes. ”

And the master – just before the wood was all on board – hastily filled a blank order ( torn from a book, like a checkbook, leaving a memorandum of the amount, etc. ) on the owner of the boat for payment, to Mr. Sikes, for two cords of pine – wood, at $1.75, and two cords of light – wood, at $2 – and left it in the box.  The wood used had been measured in the ranks with a rod, carried for the purpose, by the master, at the moment he reached the bank.

Before, with all possible haste, we had finished wooding, the Zephyr passed us; and, during the rest of the day, she kept out of our sight.  As often as we met a steamboat, or passed any flats or rafts, our men were calling out to know how far ahead of us she was; and when the answer came back each time, in an increasing number of miles, they told us that our boat was more than usually sluggish, owing to an uncommonly heavy freight; but still, for some time, they were ready to make bets that we should get first to Wilmington.

Several times we were hailed from the shore, to take on a passenger, or some light freight; and these requests, as long as it was possible, were promptly complied with – the boat being run up, so as to rest her bow upon the bank, and then shouldered off by the men, as if she had been a skiff.

[The Cotton Kingdom by Frederick Law Olmsted, Arthur Meier Schlesinger – “The Carolinas” – published 1861]

THE ZEPHYR. – We had the pleasure during the last week of making a trip on this delightful Boat to our sister town of Wilmington and back.  We started from this place at half past 7 o’clock. A. M., and reached Wilmington about 8 o’clock, P. M.  Returning we left Wilmington at 7 A. M., and reached Fayetteville at about 9 P. M.-thus performing each trip in a day.-The Zephyr is an elegant, commodious, comfortable and fast running boat.  She has added very greatly to the traveling facilities of the River, and deserves encouragement at the hands of the public.

North Carolinian.

[Wilmington Journal – Friday, February 18, 1853]

“STEAMER ZEPHYR.” – We have heretofore noticed the Iron Steamer Zephyr, commanded by Capt. R. McRae.  All who have seen the boat can but admire her.  It affords us pleasure to notice the rapid increase to her passenger list.  On her last trip down, we learn, she brought fifty passengers.  She has fulfilled her engagements with unprecedented punctuality, often coming down from Fayetteville in 7 ½ hours, running time.  She is now making semi-weekly trips between this place and Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Journal – Friday, March 18, 1853]

The Zephyr on her last trip from Fayetteville, came gallantly to the wharf with 50 passengers on board.-1b. {from the Wilmington Journal}

[Fayetteville Observer – Monday, March 21, 1853]

[pointing finger icon>>]  The Steamer “Zephyr” arrived here from Fayetteville last Monday afternoon, at fifteen minutes before 5 o’clock.  This is the quickest trip which has ever been made between the two places, being only ten hours including all stoppages.

[Wilmington Journal – Friday, April 22, 1853]

Sell ZEPHYR Steamboat Ad WDH07141855

Sell ZEPHYR Steamboat Ad WDH07141855

ZEPHYR (Rebuilt in Jacksonville [FL] after burning in 1856, iron hull)
123 Gross Tons (174 after rebuilt)
126 Length
35 Width
4.6 Depth
Built in 1852 in Wilmington, DE
Disposition (C 61)

From “Listing of Vessels and Rosters” p. 196 in St. Johns River Steamboats by Edward A. Mueller (1986)

The Cape Fear River Steamers

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 23, 2009 in The Boats


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: