Sometimes life isn’t the way it appears. Reality perceived, the rules as we have come to understand them, confidence in things possessed, future plans, promises, hopes and dreams and every bulwark and beam can be taken in a single breath.
With fanfare and celebration, the City of Glasgow was birthed in 1850 in the city that bears her name. The iron-hulled maiden was originally designed to carry 44 first class passenger, 85 second class passengers and 1200 tons of cargo, but a redesign in 1852, to enter the immigrant trade, set up bunks for 400 third class passengers in the lower hold. This was a substantial improvement for the poorest of travelers.
Instead of a sidewheeel, she gained thrust from two engines powering a single-screw propeller. This made her slower, only using 20 tons of coal a day, but she turned a profit. The absence of a large paddle wheel contributed to the bottom line, too, making room for more passengers and cargo. So did the forged hull which needed less repair. In all, the City of Glasgow helped prove that a passenger liner could be profitable and didn’t need government assistance, as most of that day required.
After a festive evening welcoming in the new year, she set sail from Liverpool, England to Philadelphia on New Years Day, 1854, with 480 passengers on board and was never seen again. Vanished. To this day no one knows what happened or where the bottom might be. A few sailors were interviewed later who came in off the sea as the Glasgow was departing. They all recalled a storm approaching somewhere in the distance.
In October of that year, a large piece of finished wood washed heavily ashore near Campbeltown, Scotland. On it, glistening in the sunlight, in the sand and rolling surf and whispering within the sea spray, eternal and entombed, were the gold gilded words City of Glasgow.
(Some official documents indicate her departure date as March 1st, but many believe these are recording errors.)