History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Memorabilia & Ephemera
Anchor made from wood taken from the Niagara, one of the ships in the cable fleet of 1857 and 1858.
See also the main page on this ship

The anchor measures 5.5" from tip to ring, and the
crossbar is 5" long. One fluke is broken and missing its tip.

The tag attached to the anchor reads:

[Th]is is from the U.S. Steam Frigate
Niagara - one of the two vessels that
laid the first Atlantic Telegraph Cable.
She was in service during the war of
1861-65 and was burned for old
material at Nut Island about the
year 1887

Nut Island is a promontory of land in Boston Harbor to the south of Boston, near Quincy, Massachusetts. According to research conducted in December 2006, the results of which are to be presented in a paper to the Geological Society of America's meeting in March 2007, the Niagara was stripped of her superstructure and a portion of her machinery and then burned and scuttled in Boston Harbor.

Steam Frigate Niagara
Built at Brooklyn Navy Yard launched
1856 first full rig ship built of white oak.
4850 tons. 1857 engaged in laying first Atlantic Cable in company HMS Agamemnon.
1860 went to Japan with Japanese Embassy.
1861 US Fleet during civil war.
1870 retired and placed in Rotten Row.
1872 condemned and sold to ship breakers
burned at Nut Island about 1886-87

"Rotten Row" was the ship graveyard at the Charleston Navy Yard. According to the New York Times dated 6 August 1883 the Niagara was still in Rotten Row at that date.

Undated postcard showing the figurehead from the Niagara

Rear Admiral S.S. Robison (in the foreground)

Figurehead from U.S.S. Niagara, Built in 1855. This
Vessel was engaged in laying the first Atlantic Cable

Samuel Shelburne Robison (10 May 1867 - 20 November 1952) was the author of a number of publications on wireless telegraphy for the US Navy. His "Manual of Wireless Telegraphy for the Use of Naval Electricians," frequently referred to as "Robison's Manual," was prepared in 1905 while Robison was head of the Radio Division. It was first published in January 1907. For approximately 25 years it was, with revisions, recognized as the Navy's standard textbook on the subject.

Robison was a U.S. Navy officer whose service extended from the 1890s through the early 1930s. He held several major commands during World War I, and from 1928-1931 served as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

A photograph at the Library of Congress, dated May 24, 1902, shows the Niagara's figurehead at the Boston Navy Yard at Charlestown, and a 1909 newspaper article reported that it was still there. The Charlestown Navy Yard closed in 1974 and is now a national park.


Geological Society of America research paper abstract

New York Times, 6 August 1883

Arlington National Cemetery website accessed 3 February 2007

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Last revised: 24 December, 2019

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