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Shipbuilders from before the First World War

Wooden Shipbuilders Active Between the Civil War and WWI (49)

This page also includes Iron Shipbuilders Active Between the Civil War and WWI (34 entries) and Other Pre-WWI Yards (6 entries.)

The 19th century was a period of transition for the shipbuilding industry, as it moved from ships that were built of wood and powered by sail to ships that were built of iron and powered by steam. In the U.S., the years from 1830 to the Civil War were boom years, as the industrial revolution drove increasing volumes of trade and U.S. shipyards built hundreds of full-rigged ships and schooners for both north-south and east-west trade, transoceanic and coastal. After the Civil War, however, the surplus ships were sold off, burnt or scrapped and most of the remaining builders of wooden ships went out of business, leaving only those yards which had invested the considerable capital needed for iron shipbuilding and for steam propulsion. As a result, we can effectively date the modern shipbuilding industry from 1865 and concentrate here on those yards that were active in the 50 years between the Civil War and World War One, and could be seen to be making the transition to iron and steam. Despite the romance associated with the multi-masted sailing ships of the 19th century, therefore, these are not the primary subject of this web site. Documenting the construction records of these yards is not, however, simple. First, it should be noted that there are quite a few shipbuilders that were not only significant before World War One but that continued to be significant for many years after World War One - Newport News, for example - as a result of which they are already included in the Large Shipbuilders section of this web site. This section is, therefore, confined to those shipbuilders that were active before World War One, i.e., they were not emergency yards, but were gone by the time World War One ended, or shortly thereafter. It should also be noted that these are generally yards that built deep-draft vessels designed to carry cargo and/or passengers: they did not generally build fishing vessels, tugs or other types of work boat. The first group below provides links to the tables for those yards who were still building large wooden hulls in the years between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War I, while the second group provides links to the tables for those yards who began building large iron hulls during that period. Comments or queries, please email

Abbott Shipbuilding Milford DE
American Shipbuilding Philadelphia PA
Anderson, Alex Marine City MI
Babare Bros. Shipbuilding Tacoma WA
Bayles Shipyard (later New York Harbor DD Co.) Port Jefferson NY
Bendixsen Shipbuilding Fairhaven CA
Frank S. Bowker & Sons Phippsburg ME
Brown & Bell New York NY
Divine Burtis Red Hook NY
Clooney Construction Westlake LA
Cobb, Butler & Co. Rockland ME
Collyer, Thomas and William New York NY
Crawford & Reid Tacoma WA
Davidson Shipbuilding West Bay City MI
Dunn & Elliott Thomaston ME
John Englis & Son New York/Greenpoint NY
Flint & Chapman Bath ME
Gildersleeve Shipbuilding Gildersleeve (Portland) CT
Goble, George Oswego NY
Goss & Sawyer (later Texas Steamship Co.) Bath ME
Houghton Bros. Bath ME
John F. James (formerly James & Tarr) Essex MA
Langell, Simon St. Clair MI
Lawrence & Foulks Williamsburg/Greenpoint NY
Lindstrom Shipbuilding (later Grays Harbor Motor Ship) Aberdeen WA
Matthews Shipbuilding Hoquiam WA
McKay, Donald East Boston MA
Milwaukee Shipyard Milwaukee WI
Morley & Hill Marine City MI
Palmer & Son, Robert Noank CT
Percy & Small Bath ME
Perrine, Patterson & Stack (later Thomas Stack) Williamsburg NY
Quayle & Sons Cleveland OH
Racine Boat Manufacturing Racine WI/Muskegon MI
Robertson, Duncan Grand Haven MI
William Rogers & Son Bath ME
Roosevelt, Joyce & Co. New York NY
Sawyer Shipyards Milbridge ME
Jeremiah Simonson Greenpoint NY
Henry Steers (formerly James R. & George Steers) Greenpoint NY
Stetson, E. & I. K. Bath ME
Story, Arthur D. Essex MA
Turner, A. A. Trenton MI
Eckford Webb (later Webb & Bell) Greenpoint NY
William H. Webb (formerly Webb & Allen) New York NY
Welt, Reed & Co. Waldoboro ME
Westervelt & Son New York NY
Wolf & Davidson Milwaukee WI
Woodall & Co. (formerly Fardy & Woodall) Baltimore MD
Iron Shipbuilders Active Between the Civil War and WWI (34)
Atlantic Iron Works East Boston MA
Bell, David (formerly Bell's Steam Engine Works) Buffalo NY
City Point Iron Works (formerly Harrison Loring) South Boston MA
Cleveland Shipbuilding Cleveland/Lorain OH
Continental Iron Works (formerly Sneeden & Co. and Sneeden & Rowland) Greenpoint NY
Cowles Shipyard Buffalo NY
Deering & Donnell (later G. G. Deering and William T. Donnell) Bath ME
Delamater IW (formerly Phoenix Foundry and Hogg & Delamater) New York/Brooklyn NY
John H. Dialogue & Co. (formerly River Iron Works) Camden NJ
Dickie Bros. (later John W. Dickie & Son) San Francisco/Alameda CA
Eastern Shipbuilding Groton CT
Empire Shipbuilding Buffalo NY
Gibson, Samuel (King Iron Works) Buffalo NY
Harlan & Hollingsworth (later Bethlehem Wilmington, Dravo Wilmington) Wilmington DE
Hillman Ship & Engine Building Philadelphia PA
Howard Shipyard & Dock Co. (later JeffBoat) Jeffersonville IN
Jenks Shipbuilding Port Huron MI
Johnston Boiler Ferrysburg MI
Kelley, Spear Bath ME
John W. Lynn Philadelphia PA
McKie, William East Boston MA
Montgomery & Howard Chelsea MA
Neafie & Levy Ship & Engine Building Co Philadelphia PA
Nilson & Kelez Seattle WA
Radcliffe, William H. Cleveland OH
Charles Reeder & Sons Baltimore MD
Rees and Son, James Pittsburgh PA
Swift & Co., Alexander Cincinnati OH
Trigg Co., William R. Richmond VA
Union Iron Works (James B. Eads) (formerly Carondelet Marine Railway Co.) Carondelet MO
Charles Ward Engineering Charleston WV
West Point Foundry Cold Spring NY
Wheeler Shipbuilding (later West Bay City SB) West Bay City MI
Wolff & Zwicker Iron Works Portland OR
Other Pre-WWI Yards (6)
Other Pre-WWI Yards in New England
Other Pre-WWI Yards in New York
Other Pre-WWI Yards on the South Atlantic Coast
Other Pre-WWI Yards on the Gulf Coast
Other Pre-WWI Yards on the Great Lakes and Inland Waterways
Other Pre-WWI Yards on the Pacific Coast

These shipbuilding pages are part of an ongoing project; new material and data is added regularly.

Back to Shipbuilding History main page.


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The Canadian Collection

Revised: 1 March 2023