Photo of the Week

—– October 17, 2022 —–



“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 


Shipbuilding on Long Island


The Schooner Long Island on Shore at Inlet, Sea Cliff, 1897, by Hal B. Fullerton. (Image from the Harry T. Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image © copyright Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.) [To view the Hal B. Fullerton photo, please visit the SCHS website.] 


In the colonial era water travel was the only practical method of communication and trade across and along the Long Island Sound. Even after colonial towns were established, roads between the towns were in such poor condition that boat transportation was often preferred.

The two sail configurations most often used were the “square-rigged” or the “schooner-rigged.” The most significant square-rigged vessels were the brig with two masts and the ship with three. The ship could carry as many as thirty-seven sails and required a large crew to operate. A single-masted rigged vessel was called a sloop. These were relatively small. Schooners had two, three, or sometimes more masts, but they had fewer sails than the square-riggers and thus could be handled more safely with a smaller crew.

Shipbuilding was a major industry on Long Island for over a hundred years, and all of these types of vessels were built in Suffolk County shipyards located in Cold Spring Harbor, Northport, Port Jefferson, Smithtown, East Setauket, Greenport, and Sag Harbor. Construction of railroads and the development of steam powered iron-hulled vessels brought the trade to a halt by the end of the nineteenth century. 

Source: “Shipbuilding in Suffolk County,” by William B. Minuse. 





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