Influence on Ship Building

Ship 'Red Jacket'

As competition developed in the Asian Trade, fast ships became profitable. This contributed to the development of the clipper shipClipper ship

Fast, narrow-hulled sailing ship with tall masts, many sails, and large crews. Built and used primarily in the mid-19th century.
, which could outsail the slower, higher capacity English tea wagonsTea wagon

British merchant vessels that carried tea from China to England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Most clippers were built in large East Coast port cities, but about sixty were built in Maine. Two of these were well-known: Snow Squall Snow Squall

Built in 1851 in South Portland, Snow Squall is the only American clipper for which there are any remains.
Read more
built in South Portland in 1851, and Red JacketRed Jacket

Red Jacket was a famous Maine-built clipper, built in Rockland by George Thomas and launched in 1853. She was the largest and fastest of the Maine clippers, 251 feet long and registering 2,305 tons.
Read more
built in Rockland, Maine, and launched in 1853. Snow Squall was active in the China Trade. Red Jacket was purchased by owners from Liverpool, and she spent her days carrying goods and passengers from England to Australia. Gold was discovered in Australia in 1851, spurring a wave of travel. Later, Australian wheat was exported to Europe.

People flocked to California after gold was found there in 1848. Some sailed from the eastern United States, including Maine. Of vessels entering California ports in 1849, 67 were from Maine: 19 were from Bath, 13 from Portland, 13 from Bangor, 10 from Eastport, 3 from Belfast, 2 each from Saco and Thomaston, and one each from several other small towns.

Around this time, ship owners ceased to ship their own products. They found more profit in chartering: hiring out their vessels to cargo merchants.

California moved from gold to agriculture, and its wheat was found to be highly resistant to spoilage from dampness. This made it an ideal cargo for large-capacity sailing vessels. Maine shipbuilders became known for their three-masted square-riggedSquare-rigged

The arrangement of sails in a vessel where the main driving sails are laced to yards lying square to the mast. It is the oldest type of known rig. Such a vessel is called a square rigger.
vessels that required fewer crew members than the clippers, and yet carried more cargo. These came to be known as Down Easters.Down Easter downeaster; down-easter

Merchant sailing ship developed in Maine in the 19th century and designed for maximum carrying capacity with minimal crew size.
Read more