A Typical Iron Steamer of the 1870’s
(San Francisco Maritime Museum Narrative)

"This intricately detailed model, built between 1881 and 1888, represents a steamer of the type built by East Coast builders such as John Roach. The Pacific Mail Steamship Company owned and operated a number of such ships, including the City of Tokyo , City of Peking , and City of Sydney .  

The major features of the model are typical of the type – a very sharp, vertical or “plumb” bow, cabin accommodations in long, narrow house on the main deck, a full sailing rig of four masts, and a narrow hull of wrought iron plate riveted together in alternating in and out strakes. These ships were powered by two-cylinder compound inverted vertical engines. The curved “turtle back” structures at bow and stern were not usually fitted to American steamers of the period.  

This model was built by Mr. C.C. Fowler, who was superintending engineer for Pacific Mail’s shipbuilding program during the 1870’s. As such, he knew these vessels intimately. The model is scaled at 1/8th inch to the foot. The hull is of brass, with satinwood and mahogany in the house and gold and silver plated fittings. The model represents no actual vessel, but rather embodies Mr. Fowler’s ideas for a perfect example of the iron steamer type. This model was first shown at an exposition in San Francisco in 1888."



San Francisco Maritime Museum Model of
Pacific Mail Steamship Company 1870's Passenger Ship

Photographed by Rob Mackie
30 August 2003

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