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Tug for towing canal boats, 1871

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Tug for towing canal boats, 1871
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Richard Strauss, Negative #: 2006-9748


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: 1870-1875

Marine Patent Models — Moving Forward

Tug for towing canal boats
Catalog #: 325,942, Accession #: 249,602
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Walter Everson, a ship carpenter from New York City, proposed a paddle-wheel-driven tug for towing canal boats. "Its objects are to secure strength and compactness of construction, with increased efficiency in towing, and to prevent the washing of the banks by obviating the usual side swell." This beautiful wood model accompanied the application for Everson's 1871 patent.
Physical Description

This model measures 12" L x 4 1/4" W x 2 3/4" H.

Date Made:
New York
Transfer from the U.S. Patent Office

Canal building enjoyed a brief hey day in America from the 1820s into the 1840s. Although steamboat technology was quickly adopted on the western rivers after 1812 because

it so readily improved communication and commerce in the nation's interior, it was largely shunned on canals. The bulk cargoes that canals came to carry were low in value and did not justify the expense of steam power. Furthermore, turbulence from powered boats eroded canal banks and endangered the very structure of these expensive waterways. Inventors rarely confronted the first constraint, but they repeatedly addressed the second.

Everson's solution was to place a single paddle wheel in a long, straight-sided channel, which would "confine the that its expulsion is directly backward." For strength he designed the tug with two decks, heavily reinforced with internal framing. His model elegantly shows the complexity of this framing. Although he specified the use of two rudders, Everson made no mention of an engine for turning the paddle wheel.


Walter Everson, Tug for Towing Canal Boats, U.S. patent no. 110,754, Jan. 3, 1871.

1880 United States Census, NARA film no. T9-847, 152B.

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