City of Taunton (ship)

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The City of Taunton was built in 1892 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. She was a sidepaddle steamship that sailed for the Fall River Line.

The Ship

The City of Taunton was one of the magnificent sidepaddle steamships of the Fall River Line. These were often referred to as floating palaces because of the grandeur. “The Fall River Line steamships' gilded interiors appealed not only to the wealthy clientèle who rode the ships, but to middle-class passengers as well. The ships gave people of other classes the actual experience of spending a night within the architectural splendor of wealth.” [1] With passengers and cargo she was part of the connection between Boston and New York. "On Sunday evenings, passengers left Boston for New York from the Old Colony Railroad Depot. They boarded the steamers in Fall River and traveled to Newport, then continued on the overnight trip back to New York." [2]

Wreck with the Plymouth

Just after midnight of March 21, 1903, the City of Taunton collided with the Plymouth. Both these ships steamed for the Fall River Line. The fog was so thick that the crews reported “it was difficult for the commanding officers and pilots on duty to distinguish object more than 100 feet (30 m) away.”[3] Capt. Bibber of the City of Plymouth stated, “When I found he was coming on at us I ordered the engines stopped and backed up full speed. Just at that time I saw his green light about two points on the port bow.”[3] The Taunton was damaged and the crew filled the cracks with blankets. They were towed into New London by the Nashua. The Plymouth did not fare as well. When struck by the Taunton, the port side of the steel ship was ripped open, drowning four sailors. It caused an opening about 75-foot (23 m) long. It was said that “the opening ... was big enough to take in a good-sized summer cottage.”[4] In total, five crew and one passenger died on the Plymouth. US Marines that were passengers on the Plymouth were able to maintain calm and assist to the wounded. After the wreck both ships made it to port.

The broken intake

On October 2, 1910, the City of Taunton experienced a break in one of its intake pipes. In the Globe it was stated that the ship “Tore across the sound to Bridgeport whistling for aid.” The captain believed that the ship would sink prior to reaching the port, but they made it to dock. Firemen in Bridgeport met the ship at the dock and were able to pump the water out of the ship. There were no passengers aboard the ship during his incident.

Final wreck location

In the 1930s the steamship companies had a lot of problems with the Seamen's Union [5]. This and the switch from luxury liners to cheaper transportation as well as the closing of the cloth mills in Massachusetts caused the downfall of these great liners. In the 1930s the City of Taunton was grounded in Somerset, Massachusetts, and left to waste. Her magnificent tits can be seen at low tide just south of the I-195 bridge.


  1. Article on Fall River Line
  2. John B. Bachelder, Popular Resorts and How to Reach Them 3rd ed. rev. (Boston: John B. Bachelder, Publisher, 1875), 105, 107
  3. 3.0 3.1 Boston Globe March 22, 1903
  4. Boston Globe March 21, 1903
  5. Interview with steamship crew member