Today's Featured Artifact is one of the larger pieces in our collection! This steam engine is from the Merritt-Chapman & Scott crane barge Monarch. One of four that powered the hoisting apparatus, the Monarch was built in 1894 and could lift 250 tons.
This particular engine is one of a pair that worked to swing the crane boom from side to side. The two other engines did most of the heavy lifting, raising the boom and the hook. This engine is a compound steam engine and is in working order. The engine is on loan from Gerald Weinstein.
Merritt-Chapman & Scott was a noted marine salvage corporation with history that dated back to the 1860s and the Monarch was just one of their many vessels. Technically an A-frame floating derrick, the Monarch was used to lift heavy items such as railroad cars and engines, turbines, and other heavy cargoes onto and off of ships and docks, as well as raise sunken vessels such as barges, tugboats, and even large steamboats.
In the above photo, you can clearly see how the Monarch's A-frame steam derrick crane worked. Here, the hoisting engine on display at the museum is working in tandem with its partner to move the crane arm to the side in order to create safe conditions to raise (or lower) the equipment off or on the deck of the Champion. By tilting far to the right or starboard side of the barge, the crane arm is able to lift and lower straight up and down, dramatically reducing the danger that the cargo will swing and wreck either of the barges or their hoisting apparatuses.
In this photo you can see how far over the Monarch would tilt when hoisting something heavy! The barge would often heel over like that, sometimes submerging the edge of her decks in the water.
Merritt-Chapman & Scott went on to be involved in a number of large marine construction projects over the years, including the construction of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge in 1957 and the Throgs Neck Bridge in 1961. It is unclear if the Monarch was used on either project.
The Monarch retired in the 1980s after 90 years of service. She outlasted Merritt-Chapman & Scott itself, as the company was dissolved in the 1970s.
You can find out more about Merritt-Chapman & Scott and see more images of the Monarch by visiting the Mystic Seaport Archives, where the corporate records are held. And if you'd like to see a piece of the Monarch in person, be sure to visit the Hudson River Maritime Museum and swing by the big green machine, tucked in the corner of the East Gallery.
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This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
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