In the 1860s, commerce shifted in the Great Lakes. Railroads had penetrated the West and cut into the profitable freight businesses. The most dramatic and far-reaching consequence of the lean years of the late 1850s and early 1860s was the introduction of the “consort system,” and the development of specialized bulk freight carriers. Enormous quantities of foodstuffs and raw materials needed to be transported by ships, but the lucrative package cargo had decreased. At the same time, bulk cargoes such as salt, grain, coal, and lumber were increasing.
One type of sailing vessel which became popular on the Great Lakes in the 1860’s was the scow schooner. Scows were introduced around 1830. They were shallow craft with flat bottoms and hard chines (square bilges), although they varied in bow and stern configurations. Many Norwegian immigrants ether captained or worked on one of these scow schooners.
In June of 2017 , our speaker Victoria Kiefer was hired by the Wisconsin State Historical Society’ s Maritime Office as a Maritime Archaeologist. While working with the Society, she has studied early Great Lakes sailing and steam ships and the people and industries that are associated with these vessels. Victoria will be sharing her knowledge of scow schooners and their importance to immigrant families as entry points for many into the Great Lakes maritime trades as sailors, masters, and vessels owners.
**Seating is limited so please arrive early