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The Hesper was a wooden-hulled, single propeller, triple-masted, freight-carrying steamship which towed schooner-barges. The steamer was one of several near-identical ships built for the large Bradley Transportation Company fleet of Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1890s. It was launched at the Ship Owners Dry Dock Company at the Radcliffe Yard in Cleveland on June 28, 1890. It was a double-decked bulk freighter measuring 250 feet in length and rated for about 2,700 tons capacity. The Hesper was issued its first certificate of enrollment at the Cuyahoga District Customs Office in Cleveland on June 30, 1890 by George A. McKay, deputy collector. That document listed the ship as a propeller with plain head and round stern.
Enrollment certificates state that the vessel was 250.3 feet long, with a breadth of 41.6 feet and a depth of 20.2 feet. It measured 1,539.98 (net) tons. The Hesper's enrollment document of 1899 indicates that it was changed stating that it now had one deck, only two masts and measures 1570 tons, its 1893 enrollment (#81) being "surrendered by reason of change of description and tonnage." The enrollment also states it had "cabins forward Texas house and ships cabins aft" and that it has a dining room, kitchen and hallways.
A photograph of the vessel taken circa 1895, while it sat in a lock in Sault St. Marie, Mich., depicts the vessel with three masts. Photographs taken after the 1899 structure change show it with only two masts, one directly aft of the forward pilot house and one directly forward of the vessel's single stack, which in turn is located at the forward end of the aft cabin. Photographs also indicate it had a cabin located just forward of the center of the vessel and that this cabin and the forward pilot house and Texas cabin were painted white. All photographs show the vessel had a bluff bow with a full entrance. Additionally, it carried two iron folding stock anchors. These anchors were not tied to catheads at each side of the vessel's bow, but rather were brought inboard through what appear to be retractable bow bulwark rails.
The Hesper was powered by a vertical triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine with cylinders of 17, 29 and 48 inch diameters with a 36 inch stroke. The engine was built by the Cleveland Ship Building Company of Cleveland and produced 825 horsepower. The vessel had two Scotch boilers also built by the Cleveland Ship Building Company. They were 11 by 12 feet and produced a pressure of 160 pounds. It had an iron boiler house. The Hesper had a sectional propeller 12 feet in diameter with a 14 foot pitch. It originally had three pole spars and a single stack. It was valued at $108,000 in 1890 and at the time of its loss in 1905 it was insured for $50,000.
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