Steam Tug W.J. Harahan

by Hans | August 3rd, 2014

Despite the popularity of diesel, steam powered railroad tugs continued to be built in the 1920’s. This is the W.J. Harahan undergoing builder’s trails in 1928 just after she was launched at Newport News, Virginia.
The owner, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, found steam power more economical than diesel because the railroad had access to cheap coal, which it regularly hauled from the coal fields. The W.J. Harahan, 103 feet long and with a 800 horsepower engine, lasted as a steam tug until the 1960’s when she was finally converted to diesel. She now operates as the Margaret McAllister. Builder’s trails were an important event for a ship. It was then that the builder would prove to the new owner that the ship met specifications; if she did not, the owner could require changes. In this photo there’s a good crowd on the W.J. Harahan, and they seem contented with the tug’s performance. The tripod on the after pilothouse roof holds a pelorus for swinging the tug’s compass.

Source: On the Hawser by Steven Lang & Peter H. Spectre

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