(Under the direction of Professor Bradley A. Rodgers) Department of History, May 2002.
This thesis presents a comprehensive examination of the wooden-hulled paddle-wheel steamship Winfield Scott. Though other studies have peripherally explored the Winfield Scott's role in the Gold Rush this will be the first to combine historical and archaeological investigation methods to demonstrate that the Winfield Scott played a pivotal transportation role on both coasts of the United States. This integration should provide, for the first time, a well-rounded narrative of the ship from its design to its demise.
The Winfield Scott was built in 1850 by the Davis, Brooks, and Company to compete against the monopoly on Western passenger travel imposed by the United States Mail Steamship Company and the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Prior to its career on the Panama route it provided the first regular direct steamship service between New York City and the southern ports of Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans and then chronicles the Winfield Scott's role on the Panama route.
After running profitably between San Francisco and Panama for over a year, the Winfield Scott wrecked and sank on a trip to Panama in December 1853. The steamship struck a rock off Anacapa Island, part of the Channel Islands located off the California coast. The Winfield Scott's archaeological remains represent a rare extant example of a mid-nineteenth century New York-built wooden-hulled paddle-wheel steamship.