The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881–1931

A History with Details on All Ships


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About the Book

In 1881, the dynamic Baltimorean Bernard N. Baker established the Atlantic Transport Line, an American–owned but British–operated steamship company with service from London to New York that became famous for shipping expensive livestock and for carrying only first-class passengers. Although moderately sized, the company remained a significant presence in international shipping until World War I caused major business disruptions, followed by changed priorities during peacetime. Finally, the Great Depression led to its closure.
This volume chronicles the history of the line and its absorption into J.P. Morgan’s gargantuan and ill-conceived International Mercantile Marine Company against the background of efforts to revive the American mercantile marine. Descriptions of life on board Atlantic Transport Line vessels, individual histories of every vessel owned by the line, and biographies of key figures associated with the company make this the most complete account of this important player in the history of American trade.

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Kinghorn served as a senior regional curator for English Heritage, responsible for collections at more than 50 historic sites in Britain. He now lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and works as a writer, editor, and content manager for corporate websites. His great-grandfather was the engineering superintendent for the Atlantic Transport Line and responsible for the mechanical operation of the entire fleet.

Bibliographic Details

Jonathan Kinghorn
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 314
Bibliographic Info: 86 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6142-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8842-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction      3

Part I—The Story of the Atlantic Transport Line

1. Establishing the Line—Quite a Respectable Business      11

2. “How Proud We Were”—The Atlantic Transport Line Fleet      28

3. Passengers and Cargo—An Enviable Reputation      36

4. Metropolis to Metropolis—Ten Days at Sea      52

5. Patriotism and Opportunity—The Spanish-American War      74

6. An Impenetrable Mystery—The Wreck of the Mohegan      82

7. Giving to a Good Cause—Hospital Ships      93

8. An Ill-Conceived Venture—The International Mercantile Marine Company      103

9. Full Tide of Prosperity—The Belle Époque      115

10. World War I—One of the Hardest Hit      126

11. Shipping Control—Freighters in Wartime      140

12. Postwar Recovery—Tourist Third Class      151

13. Anglophobia and Depression—The End of the Line      169

Part II—Ship Histories and Biographies of Key Personnel

Ship Histories      178

Biographies of Key Personnel      242

Part III—Appendices, Notes, Bibliography, Index


A: Special Government Vessels—The Army Transport Grant and Sister Ships      257

B: Excerpts from the Journal of Lemuel and Julia Potwin, 1897–1898      263

C: A Letter from the Engineer of the Mohegan      268

D: Mohegan Victims and Survivors      271

E: “The Wreck of the Steamer Mohegan”      272

F: Notes on the Salvage of the Minnehaha, 1910      274

G: Pacific Mail Steamship Company Vessels and Service      278

Chapter Notes      281

Bibliography      302

Index      305

Book Reviews & Awards

“a labor of love”—International Journal of Maritime History; “a monumental work filled with historical data and vast amounts of interesting detail…an amazing amount of information about the interlocking business interests of the concern and the maritime corporations with which it was associated. One extremely valuable addition to the book is Kinghorn’s excellent appendix covering all the major ships of the line. Jonathan Kinghorn has provided his readers with one of the most interesting histories of an American-flag steamship line which anyone has ever written. It belongs in every maritime library”—Nautical Research Journal; “remarkably thorough…Kinghorn’s book will be warmly welcomed by maritime enthusiasts as well as general readers of Atlantic history”—The Northern Mariner/Le Marin du Word.