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Thread: The Last Wooden Merchant Fleet in the World - Mallows Bay

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    Posts
    282

    Default The Last Wooden Merchant Fleet in the World - Mallows Bay

    When I was a young man we used to fish the upper tidal Potomac River on a regular basis. Sometimes we fished "The Ships" at Mallows Bay and Arkindale Flats. People used to say that the hulks were the wooden remains of troop transport ships from the Civil War or WWI. They were from WWI. But why were they made of wood at that late date in history?

    To understand this story you should read the preface from this ebook, and look at the awesome pictures:
    http://spirainternational.com/ebooks..._are_Built.pdf

    Then read this article by Donald Shomette:
    http://www.dnr.state.md.us/naturalre...ghostship.html
    Enough excellent boat wood to build 3 million small boats totally wasted.

    Then finally look in horror at the aerial view of Mallows Bay, and across the river at Arkindale Flats:
    https://maps.google.com/maps?bav=on....classic&dg=brw
    Double click to zoom in.

    There was a marina back in the basin before the state park was built. We used to talk to the old man who owned it as we fished the docks. He used to always complain that the fishing was bad because the Virginia governor was dumping chlorine into the river. We would inform him that the fishing was the best that it had ever been, and asked him why half of the beautiful wooden cabin cruisers in his marina were sitting on the bottom. I guess he thought that was the natural position for boats around those parts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    2,171

    Default Re: The Last Wooden Merchant Fleet in the World - Mallows Bay

    IIRC, one of our fellow Forumites has a wooden freighter for an avatar.

    Now for a different tack: the U.S. built a fleet of concrete freighters during WWI, and another fleet during WWII. Some of the survivors of the WWII fleet are moored near Powell River, British Columbia, as a breakwater for sawmill operations. If you go to Powell River in Google Maps Earth view, the breakwater is about 1 mile up the coast.

    Apologies for the thread drift!

    Tom

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Fredericksburg, Virginia
    Posts
    282

    Default Re: The Last Wooden Merchant Fleet in the World - Mallows Bay

    The wooden ships at Mallows Bay are 275' long, which is at the upper limit for conventional wooden ship construction. Yet they were small for cargo ships at the time of WWI. Reinforced concrete technology was in its infancy during WWI, and was increasing rapidly at the time of WWII. The concrete ships at Powell River and at Kiptopeke State Park here in Virginia are about 375ft to 450ft, so much greater capacity than the wooden ships (and diesel powered).

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