The coal industry was a major foundation for American industrialization in the nineteenth century. As a fuel source, coal provided a cheap and efficient source of power for steam engines, furnaces and forges across the US.
The influence of coal was so pervasive that by the advent of the twentieth century, it became a necessity of everyday life. In an era where smokestacks equaled progress, the smoky air and sooty landscape of industrial America owed a great deal to the growth of the availability of coal. (Adams)
A peculiar feature of 1907 was that in spite of the coasting laws, foreign vessels were chartered to bring domestic coal from the Atlantic ports of the US for the use of the American battleships ordered to the Pacific.
The coal trade of San Francisco was practically in the hands of one firm. Coal was always dear in California, as no supply is produced locally, but since the formation of this combination it has doubled in price. … 80,000-tons were on the way from Australia. (Great Britain, Trade & Commerce Report, 1908)
Coal was first discovered in Australia in 1791 by an escaped convict near the site of Newcastle. Mining began in 1799 with the collection of coal from outcrops near Newcastle for sale in Sydney; the cargo resulted in Newcastle becoming Australia’s first commercial export port. (Australia Bureau of Statistics)
Fast forward about a century … the three-masted bark Carrollton was en route from “New South Wales” Australia to San Francisco, via Honolulu, with a load of coal.
The Carrollton was built in 1872 by the Arthur Sewall Shipyard in Bath, Maine. Bath-built down-easters were some of the most celebrated commercial sailing vessels of their day.
Sewall ships, though not the fastest, were proven economic winners in the long-haul maritime trades of the mid- and late-19th century.
In the midst of her career in the Pacific lumber, grain, and coal business, the Carrollton under the command of Captain Hinrichs was accidentally lost on December 26th, 1906, when she ran bow-on onto the reef on the southern side of Sand Island at Midway. (PMNM)
Here’s a link to a Google Earth ‘Street View’ on the southern part of Sand Island at Midway:
All of her crew were saved (rescued by the cable ship Restorer,) but the vessel was a total loss.
Typical of wooden ship wreck sites, all exposed hull and superstructure have vanished. But the heavier elements (anchor, chain, stanchions, fasteners, deck machinery, donkey boiler, lead scuppers, pintles and gudgeons etc.) remain scattered in an area near the reef.
The confused path of the anchor chain on the bottom adds to the story of the wreck. The chain locker, its wooden sides long gone, is now a fused mass of iron almost indistinguishable from reef. The windlass has grown corals. The ship remains will ultimately be ‘recycled’ as reef substrate in this fashion. (Van Tilburg)
Today, a large variety of artifacts from the shipwreck lie scattered over an area almost 1,000 feet long. A portion of the ship’s cargo of coal testify to the sea’s power to break apart what the best wooden shipwrights once created. (PMNM)
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