Marine Link
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Simon Lake

SIMON LAKE, distinguished engineer, who has borne a major part in the development of the submarine as a practical device, was born in Pleasantville, N. J., September 4, 1866, the son of Christopher J. and Miriam (Adame) Lake. He is a descendant of John Lake, one of :he patentees and founders of Gravesend, now South Brooklyn, N. Y., and in the maternal line from Jeremy Adams, who settled in Cambridge, M ass., 1632, was one of the founders of Hart-ford, Conn., where he was Indian agent, collector of customs, and keeper of the public inn. The High Court of the colony of Connecticut as held in that inn; and from that court room the colony's charter was stolen and hidden in the ramed Charter Oak. The Adams family retained the property for two hundred years, and the Travelers' Insurance Building now fills its site.

Simon Lake was educated in the High School f Toms River, N. J., Clinton Liberal Institute, Fort Plain, N. Y., and in the Mechanical Course at Franklin Institute, Philadelphia. He entered his father's foundry and machine shop in 1883, and later became his partner. He invented a steering gear, dredge and other vessel appliances, of which many were built, and were chiefly used by fishing and oyster vessels in Chesapeake and Delaware bays. In 1884 he built his first ex-perimental submarine, "The Argonaut, Jr.," and n 1886-1887 built "The Argonaut," the first sub-marine to operate successfully in the open sea. A successful voyage which he made in this vessel from Norfolk to New York in 1898 (part of it submerged) drew from Jules Verne in 1899 a prediction that the submarine would become an important factor in the next war and also that there would be navies in the upper air.

Mr. Lake developed his invention to great perfection, especially his submarine torpedo boats, but he also predicts for the submarine a valuable place in commercial communication, location of sunken ships and cargoes, successful navigation of Northern waters, reaching the Orient in the summer season by the Northern route above Russia from England north of Russia to Japan, by submarine ship, which can readily underrun the few ice floes that would be encountered near the shores in the summer season. Other ice-bound waters, such as the Baltic Sea, the Great Lakes, etc., could be used, even in closed seasons, by cargo-carrying submarines. He predicts wide use of the submarine in the cultivation and recovery of oysters and other edible shellfish, pearl and sponge fisheries, new and more efficient methods of charting and improving waterways, etc.

He was a member of the J. C. Lake & Son Company, Baltimore, until 1894; founded the Lake Submarine Company, 1895; organized, 1901, The Lake Torpedo Boat Company, and was its president and general manager until 1916, and is still vice-president and consulting engineer. The company has built numerous submarines for the United States and foreign countries. Founded, 1917, and is president of The Housatonic Shipbuilding Company, which is building vessels for the United States Shipping Board; president of The Merchant Submarine Company and The Lake Heat Engine Company, which has built two very successful experimental heavy oil reversible internal combustion engines. He is also treasurer of The Argonaut Salvage Corporation, organized to build and equip submarine vessels to use Mr. Lake's inventions for location and recovery of sunken vessels and cargoes. Mr. Lake received a patent, 1910, on a method and apparatus for welding plates and frames together in constructing hulls of vessels instead of riveting them.

Has served on the Finance Board of Milford, Conn., his home town, and as president of the Village Improvement Society; is a member of the Institution of Naval Architects of Great Britain, Society of Naval Architects and Marine En-gineers, The Society of Mechanical Engineers, The Concrete Institute; associate member of the Naval Engineers, Washington, D. C honorary member National Institute of Inventors; member of the Engineers' Club, New York City; Algon-quin and Black Rock Country Clubs, Bridgeport; Patriots and Founders of America, Society of Colonial Wars, Sons of the American Revolution, the Masons and Knights of Pythias.

He has an experimental laboratory at Milford, Conn., with draughting room, pattern and ma-chine shop, and experimental foundry.

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