Tuesday, March 7, 2017



Thomas H. Hughes, editor of the new weekly Milton Towncrier, has saved space to print items about the vessels that used to ply the Broadkill River between Milton and the Delaware Bay.

The April 4th , 1954, issue has a letter from Captain T. C. Conwell, native of Milton, and now an executive of the American President Lines of San Francisco, which listed the names and size some of those vessels now nearly forgotten. Some were built in Milton which was in the 19th century a famous for ship building of schooners and even steamers. Between the Civil War and 1880's there were usually three to four schooners on the stocks, some as large as 125 feet long.

Some of these ships regularly sailed between Milton and points north like Philadelphia and New York doing their coastal trading.

Captain Conwell writes about the 138 foot long steamer, Endeavor, built in Philadelphia in 1896 which traded in Milton more than three years before going to the Chesapeake Bay to work.
Railroads were now traveling up and down the Delmarva Peninsula, carrying passengers and freight that were the lively hood of the river and bay vessels.

Stubborn and tenacious was the Delaware spirit that tried to prolong the era of waterborne transportation.

As late as 1906, Captain MeGee built the Marie Thomas as a three masted schooner in Milton, in which was installed one of the first internal combustion engines, a 60 HP , kerosene burning motor.

Captain Conwell also mentions the seagoing ships built in Milton, too large to carry cargo in the shallow Broadkill stream but sailing the Oceans and Bays of the world.

Source: Wilmington Morning News, Tuesday, April 6, 1954.

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