Delaware, a tugboat built in Bethel, De., is a rare example of a typical early 20th century wooden river tug. Built in 1912 by William H. Smith, it may be one of two survivors of the notable boatyard. Large sailing vessels carrying cargoes of lumber, wheat, fertilizer, and coal, were common on the Chesapeake Bay until the 1930s. With its narrow, winding rivers and shallow harbors, many of the Bay’s waterways were difficult to maneuver. Tugs like Delaware met the larger vessels and towed them nimbly into port or up rivers. By doing this, tugs prolonged the economic viability of large sailing vessels on the Bay. Today, with the expansion of coastwide trade, most freight is carried by tug and barge.

Built: 1912, Bethel, Del., by William H. Smith
Length: 39 ft., 8 in. (12.13 m)
Beam: 11 ft., 4 in. (3.47 m)

Delaware, river tug, 1912. Collection of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, Md. Gift of Bailey Marine Construction, Inc. 1991.0003.0001.