North Star, 1853-1866
North Star was a paddle-wheel driven steamer, 82 m long and 12 m wide, built by Jeremiah Simonson in 1853 for the US business tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt.1
Vanderbilt toured Europe in the ship in 1853.1 The New York Times reports on the North Star's return to New York on 24 September 1853 and notes its condition as admirable; the article recalls that when the ship left for Europe, on 21 May of the same year, it ran aground on the rocks at Corlaers Hook.3 It was soon repaired and sailed again, but not without incident, this time political: At Naples the authorities refused Mr Vanderbilt permission to land, deeming it, in their wisdom, quite an impossible thing for a single individual to travel about the world so independently, and fearing some sinister design by those detestable Yankees against the peace in Neapolitan dominions.4
From 1854 onward the North Star served as a mail and passenger ship and was even chartered for tours of duty with the Quartermaster's Department and War Department.5 For a time, it functioned as a Pacific Mail liner.6 In January of 1859, San Francisco newspapers noted the North Star as part of a line of steamers intended to run between New York and San Francisco by way of Panama.7
This noble ship, described as probably the strongest fastened vessel of her tonnage afloat,8 was finally broken up in New London, Connecticut, in 1866.9
  • 1. Will Lawson, Pacific Steamers (Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd., 1927), 25.
  • 2. John Haskell Kemble, The Panama Route, 1848-1869 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1943), 237.
  • 3. The New York Times [Archives], Return of the North Star, The New York Times.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Kemble, The Panama Route, 237.
  • 6. Lawson, Pacific Steamers, 25.
  • 7. Kemble, The Panama Route, 82.
  • 8. John Overton Choules, The Cruise of the Steam Yacht North Star (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1854), 19.
  • 9. Kemble, The Panama Route, 237.
Mentions of this vessel in the documents