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gauge railroad had been laid on top of the mole, extending out to its seaward end. Every morning, fishermen would ride out to the end of the mole on small rail cars propelled by sails, taking advantage of the land breeze. They would fi sh all day. When the sea breeze sprang up in the evening, they wo uld co me sailing back in along the mole to the mainland. This was sti ll a daily occurrence when I retired in 1980, and, for all I know, m ay still be go ing on. It was qui te a sight, when approaching the port of Rio G rande from seaward, to see these little rail cars sailing alo ng at about ten knots. CAPT.

P. J.


Dickinson, Texas A number of railroad companies in the US also experimented with sail-powered rail cars. Here's a notice from The C lay Coun ty Dispatch, 29 November 1877: '/! wind-power hand car, says the junction City Union, sixteen feet in length, is now sailing on the Kansas Pacific. The sail is fifteen feet high, twelve feet wide at the bottom, ten at the top. It is controlled precisely as the sail of a sail boat, and by its means the car is always easily propelled except when the wind is 'dead ahead.' With a good wind a speed of twentyfive miles an hour can be easily attained. "

City of Adelaide The fire aboard Cutty Sark was sad to learn abo ut and recovery will be expensive, but I am confide nt in the even tual outcome. Underneath most people's radar, however, a greater challenge has emerged. Another clipper from that era has survived, the British com posite clipper ship City of Adelaide, wh ich was built five years earlier than Cutty Sark. For man y years City of Adelaide was moored on the G lasgow waterfront o n the west coast of Scotland. In the 1980s and 1990s, she sank more than once and eventually was hauled out of the water several miles down river on a slipway that is accruing rental bills. A group in Su nderland, on the east coast of England where the ship was built, has been formed to save her, but they need to raise over £6 million (approx. $ 12.2 million US) to acco mplish the feat. Both these historic and remarkable clippers are equally worthy of saving, as they are the only two intact clippers left in the world. For more abo ut City of Adelaide, visit:


C ity of Adelaide in a desperate situation high and dry in Scotland. uk/adelaide.htm. ] OHN F. MILLAR Williamsburg, Virginia Another group is trying to save the ship as well. Their plan requires shipping the clipper to South Australia. Visit: www. cityof -DO'R

Lignum Vitae Shaft Bearings Your article on lignum vitae (Sea H istory 119, Summer 2007) brought back some interesting memories. As a newly minted cadet at the US Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point in early 1942, I was assigned for my sea training on a venerable vessel-a steam freighter obtained from Germany as reparations at the end of World War I. She had been launched in H amburg in 1903. I was introduced to

this versatile wood when I was sent down th e long shaft alley to check the stern bearing, while underway in convoy. I had been instructed to determine the heat of the bearing and inspect the amount of seawater that was dripping into the bilge from the bearing. All of the other shaft bearings were hand-lubricated with oil, but the massive stern bearing lined with lignum vitae was lubricated with seawater. If the water that dripped down was cool, I could report back that everything was normal. I tried to find out how long the bearing had been in service and if any replacement had been made since 1903. The chief engineer could not give me an answer. H e said that in his experience, Lignum Vitae could last forever! What an extraordinary tree. HENRY SCHULMAN

Great Neck, New York

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SEA HISTORY 12 1, WINTER 2007-08

Sea History 121 - Winter 2007-2008  

Sea History 121 - Winter 2007-2008  

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