It’s funny, and a little scary, how arbitrary the preservation of evidence of our history actually is. As a case in point is Monitor, that remarkable vessel that reportedly encompassed over a hundred new patentable inventions. No official authority bothered to preserve that ship’s construction drawings. They were preserved not by the Navy, which contracted for the ship’s construction, or by Continental Ironworks of New York, which did the actual building, or by John Ericsson himself. Rather, they were saved by Charles W. MacCord, the cantankerous Swede’s chief draftsman. MacCord later served as faculty at the Stevens Institute of Technology, where they would eventually be rediscovered decades later.
Several of these drawings are reproduced in Miller’s U.S.S. Monitor: The Ship that Launched a Modern Navy, including a scale drawing of the ship’s nine-foot, cast-iron propeller, or screw (above). Using this drawing as a guide, I’ve modeled the propeller in three dimensions, after the jump:
And finally, a photo of Monitor’s actual propeller, recovered from the wreck site and now displayed at the Mariner’s Museum at Newport News, Virginia:
Image: NOAA/Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.