Paddle Wheel Passenger Steamer Model Empire State
American, probably New York, ca. 1865-1875.
Carved and laminated pine, paint decorated.
Once a working model, the paddle wheeler model is equipped
with an engine room with all the mechanics still intact.
The Empire State was built in Buffalo, New York in 1848
The Buffalo, New York newspapers, The Buffalo Republic, Buffalo Commercial Advertiser and The Buffalo Daily Courier were effusive in their coverage of the progress on the Empire State steamer between February 22, 1848 and her maiden voyage on May 12, 1848. The articles celebrate the size, construction and elegance of the ship. The Buffalo Republic wrote:
She is the largest steamer now built in the United States that is connected
with inland trade. Her length is 340 feet – breath of beam 37 feet –
overall 64 feet -and depth of hold 15 feet. Her burthen, Custom House
measurement is 1650 tons – and her model, one of exquisite beauty and
perfection, combines strength and essential qualities for perfect safety
The Empire State was equipped with an engine from Merrick & Towne of Philadelphia.
Built to “run” between Buffalo and Chicago on the Great Lakes, the Empire State was designed to transport approximately 400 “pleasure travelers from the South” in the summer months in the family cabins. The steerage was constructed to take emigrants to destinations in the West. In total the ship could accommodate 1,400 people, and in an emergency, 2,000. The Empire State was even memorialized by Currier and Ives in a lithograph titled, Steam Packet Empire State Buffalo & Chicago, M. Hazard, Commander.
The quality and attention to detail in this steamer model are exceptional. It is a rare piece of American Folk Art that celebrates the pioneering spirit and westward expansion of the young American nation.
Buffalo Republic, February 22, 1848.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, October 5, 1848
Dimensions: 19 ½"h x 53"l x 12 ½"w
Item ID: FA-WDCRVG 307