Scott A. Emory
THE VINYARD SHIPBUILDING COMPANY: FROM WOOD SHAVINGS TO HOT SPARKS.
(Under the direction of Professor Lawrence E. Babits) Department of History, July 2000.
The purpose of this thesis is to provide a thorough historical and archaeological investigation of the Vinyard Shipbuilding Company, a defunct, late nineteenth/early twentieth century small-scale shipyard located in Milford, Delaware. To uncover the site history and use, a combination of archaeological excavations and historical research was conducted.
The archaeological resources present at the Vinyard shipyard, such as pilings and railways, compared with historical records, such as maps and vessel registers, available through state and federal depositories, illustrates how the economic and environmental settings of the area influenced the Vinyard Shipbuilding Company's growth. Local stands of timber dominated as Vinyard's primary vessel building material, even after the introduction of iron and steel and the Mispillion River's width dictated the vessel size. Spatial layout of the shipyard shifted from scattered structures to a large concentrated cluster of fabrication shops around a covered, main boathouse. In return, the shipyard contributed across local, state, and national levels through the economic influence and recognition of its vessels. Military vessels from Vinyard's plant were recognized for their strength and handling. Civilian and commercial craft produced at the Vinyard yard, whether wood or steel, berthed locally or overseas, were considered top-quality craft, earning the shipyard a solid reputation for its work.
The Vinyard Shipbuilding Company site retains intact evidence of the machinery and landscape associated with the shipbuilding process of a wooden shipyard property type. The scarcity of similar small wooden shipyards in southern Delaware leaves a gap in the history of the local shipbuilding culture, making this site an important contribution towards Delaware's maritime history.