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Author Topic: Paddlewheel pirate  (Read 2116 times)


  • Guest
Paddlewheel pirate
« on: June 13, 2005, 05:12:11 AM »
Sorry to dig up another ancient message, but...

This is a book called `Paddlewheel Pirate' by Gordon Newell. It is
about Ned Wakeman, a skipper who fascinated Mark Twain, who around
1850 hijacked an impounded paddle steamer in New York and took her
all the way to San Francisco (I think - I haven't read it in a
while...). The book largely focuses on his feats getting his ship,
the New World, which was intended only for river use, around South
America. But it also deals with he activities in San Francisco,
where he set up a permanent residence, and also his other attempts to
get ships from New York to San Francisco (I believe two others, one
of which sank not long after starting out). Being something of a
hagiography, the book has a pronounced tendency to be apologetic (for
example, in the justifications of Wakeman's participation in lynch
mobs in San Francisco). Despite this, it's a good read, written in
an easy, conversational manner. The book has a few nice photos – a
couple of the New World, and one of a very appealing (to me, anyway)
ship that Wakeman commanded at the end of his career. Once I
actually find my copy of the book, I will see if I can scan some of
the images and post them, if anyone is interested.



  • Guest
Paddlewheel pirate
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2005, 05:12:49 AM »
Hi Jamie:

Yes, I would be very interested to see what you have.

I was introduced to the "New world" in Gordon Newell's "Pacific
Steamboats", an excellent tome on the pioneer packets of the Pacific
Coast. I enjoy reading about paddlers "with a story" as they tend to
make fascinating modeling subjects. I'm surprised how many paddlers
made it up the Western shores of the US from California to Seattle and
Canada...essentially low freeboard, shallow draft river boats fighting
what could be mountainous must have been pretty darn scary.

"New World" had an adventurous life even after she arrived in
California and became top boat on the San Francisco to Sacramento run
which she defended staunchly. Newell says "She was fast..and set a
wonderful table. The "New World's" speed was seldom equalled by other
California river boats, but many of them exploded their boilers
trying.!" It is said she only lost one fight in her career, and that
was when she ventured North for a short spell of gold hauling on the
Columbia river where she encountered the Wright Brothers indomitable
"Eliza Anderson."

A number of the more seaworthy sidewheelers braved it around the Horn
and found their way up to Seattle and the Pacific North West, one of
them being "Olympia" out of New York which was purchased by the Wright
Brothers in 1869 to replace their ailing warhorse the "Eliza
Anderson". Renamed "Princess Louise", she eventually became one of
the first vessels purchased in 1878 by Canadian Pacific Navigation as
a passenger ferry between the mainland and here in Victoria on
Vancouver Island. She is one of the vessels I am actively researching
for a future model and was first of an illustrious line of Canadian
Pacific "Princess" coastal ships which lasted almost 100 years. Sadly
at this point there is almost nothing available on her except a few of
old photos. I am attempting to see if the Smithsonian or Nat'l
Maritime Museum in San Francisco have any plans or information on her
as "Olympia."

Gordon Newell's "PADDLEWHEEL PIRATE: The Life and Adventures of
Captain Ned Wakeman" is currently available from a number of used
bookstores ranging from US $5.00 up to $45.00.

Thanks for bringing this thread up, Jamie...



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