First Sailing Steamship


Meet the Experts: “Steam Coffin” presentation

Saturday, April 21 from 11am to 12pm

Steam Coffin is the story of New London native Captain Moses Rogers who’s first sailing “steamship” broke the barriers of fear and skepticism to open the seas for steam-powered shipping.

In 1807 Robert Fulton declared his intent to build an experimental “steamboat.” In the years following Fulton’s success, running these steamboats on rivers, lakes and bays became a normal and accepted part of American life. But taking such a vessel on a voyage across the ocean was a different proposition altogether. Experienced mariners didn’t think it could be done, but sloop captain Moses Rogers believed otherwise. Combining his knowledge of the old mode of transport (sail) with the new mode of transport (steam), he set out to design a vessel that was capable of overcoming the many perils at sea. This craft would be not a steamboat, but a “steamship,” the first of its kind. She was named Savannah. This presentation will show how Captain Rogers designed and built this revolutionary vessel…nearly two centuries ago!

Finding a crew for such a new-fangled contraption proved to be exceedingly difficult.  Mariners—conditioned as they were to “knowing the ropes” of a sailing ship—looked upon this new vessel, and its unnatural means of propulsion, with the greatest suspicion.  To them, it was not a “Steam Ship”—instead, it was a “Steam Coffin.”

John Laurence Busch is an independent historian who focuses upon the interaction between humanity and technology, specializing in the first generation of steam-powered vessels. He has devoted years of research to discovering the true story of Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship Savannah. The result is STEAM COFFIN, described by numerous book reviewers as the definitive account of what truly is America’s sea saga. John has made over 300 presentations on Captain Rogers and the Savannah to a wide variety of audiences, stretching from Maine to Puerto Rico to California, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

The Meet the Expert series takes place on the third Saturday of each month. This unique opportunity to hear thematic talks from experts in their respective fields will include a 45-minute lecture and 15-minute Q&A. Meet the Experts is included in your admission price and is free to all members of the museum.

Below is a link to the Busch book on the subject.

National Museum of Industrial History

602 E 2nd St

Bethlehem, PA 18015

A Triple Tour in Trappe plus the Berman Museum of Art


Henry Muhlenberg House, Trappe (Collegeville)

Saturday, March 17

10:00 a.m, to approximately 1:30 p.m.

$15 for Philadelphia Chapter SAH members/OESIA members and their guests, payable on site.

Registration required, please email your name and the names of your guests to

We will be guided through three historic properties: The Speaker’s House was the home of Frederick Muhlenberg (1750-1801), the First and Third Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1781-1791.  The house is currently being restored to its late 18th-C appearance. The Augustus Lutheran Church, a National Historic Landmark built in 1743, was where the Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711-1787), Frederick’s father, preached and became known as the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in the United States. And the Henry Muhlenberg House, a fully restored house museum furnished with many original family artifacts where Henry and his wife Anna Maria raised their large family, several of whom had a significant impact on colonial life in North America as pastors, military officers, and politicians. (

Then we will go to The Philip & Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College for a special tour of the exhibit Real Estate: Dwelling in Contemporary Art with Museum Director, Charlie Stainback.  Named by the Philadelphia Inquirer as one of “Fall’s 13 must-see art exhibits” it features the work of contemporary artists working with or responding to the varying aspects of real estate vernacular—buildings, rooms, structures, monuments, properties and houses.  From the monumental to ubiquitous building, the ordinary, or derelict piece of property to the historic site, architectural details or the room itself, the artists presented in Real Estate consider an array of norms that fall under the much broader term of “architecture”. (

We will begin at the Speakers House, 151 W. Main Street, Collegeville (Trappe), PA at 10:00 a.m. and tour the three properties through noon, then we’ll gather at the Berman Museum, 601 E Main Street, Collegeville, PA, at 12:30 p.m.  All of these sites are within 1.5 miles along Main Street.


Technology and Society: Engineering Cultures, Chemistry, and Social Order in the Second Industrial Revolution (1890 to 1930)

The lecture is concerned with the major surge of modernization and industrialization in the Western world around 1900 and contemporary debates among engineers—including chemical engineers—about the “consequences” of technology in society. The United States and Germany were the two leading countries of the Second Industrial Revolution, and it was here that engineers first formulated political theories, ethics, and metaphysics of technology and traded them across the Atlantic Ocean. Engineers were also at this time trying to constitute themselves as a new profession and social elite, facing often fierce opposition from traditional elites, such as the nobility, military, attorneys and physicians, practitioners of the “hard” sciences of chemistry and physics, and senior members of the civil service. Engineers, who had concerns about transferable skills, migration, philosophical reflection, and upward social mobility, were also a microcosm of larger segments of the population who were aspiring to become recognized citizens of the emerging secular bourgeois states. Taking the example of the relationship between engineers, chemical engineers, and chemists, I explore this understudied intersection of industrial experts and traditional social elites. I lay bare the diverse types of social and cultural capital that engineers used to carve out places for themselves in a society in which they were not unequivocally recognized as members of leading and distinguished classes.

The speaker, Heidi Voskuhl, teaches the history of technology in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

March 15, 2018

6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Science History Institute

315 Chestnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event is free, registration requested. Here is the link:


Reminder: Canal Museum Book Sale

March 3, 10:00 to 3:00

Don’t miss it!  Book sale will offer titles on canals and waterways, railroads, industry, technology, industrial archaeology, biography and history, and  Current Canal History and Technology Press books.  And although a few, mostly the most recent titles, will be full-priced, buyers present at the sale can avoid paying for shipping.

The sale will be at the National Canal Museum, 2750 Hugh Moore Park Rd.  Easton, PA  18042.  Directions to the museum are at

Great Opportunity Book Sale



March 3, 10:00 to 3:00

A fair sized book sale will offer titles on canals and waterways, railroads, industry, technology, industrial archaeology, biography and history, and some odds and ends as well. Current Canal History and Technology Press books will also be available; some will be discount priced.  And although a few, mostly the most recent titles, will be full-priced, buyers present at the sale can avoid paying for shipping.

Everything will be priced to Sell!

The sale will be at the National Canal Museum, 2750 Hugh Moore Park Rd.  Easton, PA  18042.  Directions to the museum are at


Information provided by Martha Capwell Fox | Archives and Museum Coordinator

Flying Dutchman” airport in Somerton


The next meeting of the Northeast Philadelphia History Network will be Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 7:00 PM at historic Pennepack Baptist Church, 8732 Krewstown Road 19115 Philadelphia, in Bustleton.

In honor of Black History Month, the topic will be Emory Conrad Malick (1881-1958), the first licensed African American aviator. Malick received his international pilot’s license in 1912 and in the late 1920s reportedly helped establish the “Flying Dutchman” airport in Somerton in Northeast Philadelphia.The program will be given by Mary Groce, Malick’s great-niece.

The program is also in anticipation of the centennial of the first scheduled US Airmail Delivery, which took place on May 15, 1918 at Bustleton Field (today’s Red Lion Rd and Roosevelt Boulevard).  Saturday May 19, 2018 NPHN will present a program on the first regularly scheduled air mail delivery in the US.