Horizontal Steeple Engines of the U.S.S. Wabash
Horizontal Steeple Engines of the U.S.S. Wabash
By Merrick and Sons, ca. 1854
Pencil, ink, and colored wash on paper
26 3/4" x 21 1/2"
National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Bureau of Ships

U.S.S. Wabash Horizontal Steeple Engines (two views)
The U.S.S. Wabash was one of the first steam frigates authorized by Congress in 1854. These were fully rigged sailing ships whose steam engines were intended to be auxiliary power systems used to get in and out of ports and across calm seas. The combination of steam power and heavy guns made them possibly the fastest and most powerful warships anywhere in the world until the development of armored ships. The Wabash had a submerged screw propeller instead of an exposed paddle wheel. The horizontal pistons worked side to side rather than up and down. This arrangement created a more compact engine with a lower center of gravity and allowed more stowage space below decks.

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