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Bulk carriers around 1900

Don Jane

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I was talking to a group of model railroaders and they are doing a model mock up of a coal shipping dock from around 1900 - I am wondering if anyone knows the type and name of tall ships of that era ??

Thank you

Don Jane


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Back in 1900 ships weren't specially built as bulk carriers.  Sailing ships had large open holds (usually only one), which made them ideal for bulk cargoes without alteration.


The picture below is from an old postcard and shows ships awaiting coal cargoes at Newcastle NSW around 1900.





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Well.. John, yes and no. The bulk carrier as we know it today was first developed on the great lakes in the later 19th century. The movement of massive quantities of coal, stone and iron ore in the great lakes basin enabled specialised ships to be designed and built, since these ships would not be used for any other cargos. It took more than a few years for the concept of ships specifically designed for solid bulk cargos to be adapted in the rest of the maritime world.



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sorry this does not answer your question - i seam to do that quite often


i always thought the term hulk refereed to a ship at end of life - converted to carrying cargo - 



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Does the term bulk carrier mean with a specific date of ship? I know merchant sail carried what I think of as bulk back then, guano, etc.

Can you enlighten me?




Bulk Carrier specifically refers to a vessel designed to carry dry bulk cargo, in very large quantities, un-packaged. Large, open holds (no tween decks, pillars or other internal structures) allow for easy loading, trimming and unloading.


Sailing ships, and general cargo ships are usually fitted with tween decks that would allow overstow of other products, without risking damage to products below. They can function in the role of a bulk carrier, but not without installing temporary bins to contain the cargo.


This is the L.C. Waldo built 1896:LCWaldo-Ashtabula-RL.jpg


You can see that at this date, the basic form of the great lakes ore carrier is well developed, and would undergo only minor changes for the next 80 years or so.


The George T Hope, wood, built 1883:




A slightly earlier one, the Alcona built 1873:




And a little closer to the "Origin or the Species", the Burlington (With sail barge) of 1865:






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Here on the West side, This was a bulk carrier (of lumber ) which ship builders started building about 1880 up to about 1923 before going to steel ships. This one dates from about 1909.



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  • 2 weeks later...



I would like to suggest researching the ships and boats built by the Moran Brothers Company.  The Moran Brothers started building ships in the 1880's at their dry docks located on Elliot Bay, Seattle, now Safeco Field. 


In 1897 gold was discovered in Alaska and the Moran Brothers built the 'Yukon River Fleet' that supplied bulk goods to the miners along the Yukon River.  It is an interesting story how these bulk carriers got from Roche Harbor to the Yukon River.


The Yukon River Fleet included the SS Klondike that carried ore and passengers and a Klondike replica is now in dry dock in White Horse.    


On July 4, 1902, there was a big celebration in Seattle when the keel for the U.S.S. Nebraska was laid.  The U.S.S. Nebraska, the last last battleship of the "Virginia Class" was launched on October 7, 1904.   The U.S.S. Nebraska was sold for scrap in 1923.


Hope this helps!


Dee Dee




Links to bulk carries of the era. 







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