The Collins Line ship "Baltic"

Eunice Shanahan

These letters graciously have been shared with the Victorian Web by Eunice and Ron Shanahan; they have been taken from their website. The letters give an insight into the daily lives and concerns of 'ordinary' people without whom history would not exist. The letters are a wonderful example of how much history may be gleaned from such sources.


The New York & Liverpool United States' Mail Steamship Company, commonly known as the Collins Line, was founded in New York around 1848 and its ships made their first voyages between New York and Liverpool New York to Liverpool, in 1850 in 9 days 13 hours and 30 minutes.

Baltic ship

The Baltic was built in 1850 by Jacob Bell of New York and was launched on 5 February 1850. The ship sailed from New York on her maiden voyage to Liverpool on 16 November 1850. The engines were made by Allaire Iron Works, New York. The Baltic was a 2123-ton ship that sailed under Collins from 1850 to 1858. The Baltic had a length of 282.5ft with a beam of 45ft; she had one funnel, and three masts which were rigged for sails. In 1853 her mizzen mast was removed. The ship was of wooden construction with paddle wheel propulsion and a speed of 12 knots. It was the fourth vessel launched for the Collins Line and accepted cargo and passengers: accommodation was provided for two hundred first-class passengers. In 1851, accommodation for eighty second-class passengers was added and between 6th and 16th August 1851 she made a record passage between Liverpool and New York.The company was enjoying great promotional success and claiming victory over the steamers of Cunard at this time.The Baltic commenced her last Liverpool to New York voyage on 3 February 1858, arriving in New York on 18 February 1858. This was the last voyage of the company which was then wound up, and the Baltic was laid up between 1858 and 1859.

The company never fully recovered from the losses of the Arctic in 1854 and Pacific in 1856. Disruptions to services due to breakdowns and protracted repairs, late delivery of the new ship Adriatic and other problems caused the failure of the line and operations were suspended in February 1858. In 1859 the Collins line went out of business and their remaining ships were sold to the principal creditors at a sheriff's sale.

On 9 July 1859 the ship was bought by the North Atlantic Steamship Co. and ran between New York and Aspinwall until 1860, when she was laid up again. In 1861 she was used as a Civil War transport, and on 26 April 1866 commenced the first of two round voyages for North American Lloyd between New York, Southampton and Bremen. On 21 February 1867 she sailed fom New York on the first of five round voyages for the New York & Bremen Steamship Co between New York, Southampton and Bremen. Her last voyage commenced on 21 October 1867 and in 1870 her engines were removed. She was finally scrapped in 1880.



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Last modified 14 March 2007