Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Nassaney

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Nassaney

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


During the 19th century, Great Lakes shipping played a vital role in the development of the economies of the United States and Canada. Regional shipyards built thousands of vessels to distribute coal, lumber, grain, iron ore and other goods throughout the Great Lakes network. In time, certain designs were selected for the advantage they offered over others employed in the same trade. The scow schooner was one class of carrier which attained a high level of use in the Lakes region.

This study examines the scow schooner Rockaway and the economic factors which influenced the building and use of this design in the Lakes region. Maritime archaeology is used to document and interpret the structural remains of the ship. The cultural context and commerce of the Rockaway is also evaluated along with other scow schooner data found in the historical record.

The study challenges common theories regarding scow schooner construction and the economic factors which influenced the use of this design in the Lakes region. The study demonstrates the scow was a vessel of more varied and complex form than characterizations suggest and that quality of design and function was as important to builders and owners as ease and cost of construction.