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Wednesday, October 18, 2017



THE shipbuilding and repair business conducted under the corporate name of Theo. A. Crane's Sons Company in Erie Basin is the outgrowth of a business established by the late Theo. A. Crane more than half a century ago. The founder of the business was born in Newark, N. J., but came with his parents to Brooklyn, when he was a child, and was educated in the schools there.

On leaving school he entered the shipbuilding business of the old-established yard of Devine Burtis, one of the pioneer shipbuilders of Brook-lyn. He worked his way in that yard until during the Civil War period he became its superintend-ent, and recognized as one of the most expert shipbuilders in Brooklyn.

In April, 1867, he established his own business in Brooklyn, locating first at the foot of Sixteenth Street, and later at Twenty-sixth Street. Finally he established the present yard at Breakwater Gap in Erie Basin, now conducted by Theo. A. Crane's Sons Company. Mr. Crane was his own architect, and built many tugboats, lighters, steam- barges, car-floats and scows. At one time he built a steam lighter and launched it "sideways." About everybody who heard of his plan predicted that the lighter would turn over when it struck the water. But Mr. Crane had no doubt whatever of the feasibility of his plan, which worked without a hitch. The lighter slid down the ways and out into the stream with the greatest ease.

Mr. Crane bought his drydock from G. H. Ferris, who had been in the shipbuilding business in Brooklyn for several years. A good deal of the early work in the shipyards of Brooklyn was done under primitive conditions, without the aid of a drydock. Much of the work then done by hand is now executed by the use of ingenious modern machinery.

Before the drydock era boats needing repair were run up into the mud flats at high tide, the workmen getting busy when the tide was off. Then they would pull the boat up on a crib by means of a horse and crab and work underneath her. A man who is employed in the Crane shipyard has been there from the first, and remembers these old methods, there being few of the men along the waterfront beside this old man who remembers the old and primitive ways. The Crane yard has been developed, with advance in the shipbuilding art, to a high degree of efficiency.

The founder died in 1891 and his sons, Edward and Alfred M., continued the work together with excellent success. After Edward died in 1899, of typhoid fever, Alfred M. Crane continued in sole control of the business as Theodore A. Crane's Sons until 1901, when the corporation of Theodore A. Crane's Sons Company was orga-nized, with Harrison B. Moore, president; Alfred M. Crane, vice-president and general manager; Jonathan Moore, secretary; and Walter D. Crane (brother of Alfred M. Crane), treasurer and assistant general manager. Later Harrison B. Moore ceased his connection with the company, and Alfred M. Crane became president and gen-eral manager; Jonathan Moore, vice-president; Walter D. Crane, treasurer and assistant general manager. All of these are still the officers of the existing company, with George W. McKenzie as secretary.

Three drydocks are now operated by the cor-poration. No. 1 has a capacity of 2,000 tons and takes a 265-foot vessel. No. 2 has a capacity of 5,500 tons and takes a 380-foot vessel; and No. 3 has a capacity of 1,100 tons, taking a 2io-foot vessel. Machine, blacksmith and boiler shops have been added to the plant, and the corpora-tion has been, and is now, able to fully complete necessary repairs of all kinds to steel and wooden ships and other floating property.

Two other Crane brothers are also associated in the business. Frank H. Crane is manager of the machine shop department, and Wilbur H. Crane is the company's Manhattan Borough rep-resentative.

The Crane brothers and Mr. Moore (who is also president of the New York and New Jersey Dry Dock Association) are practical business men, with expert experience in the drydock and shipyard business.

Since the business was founded about a thou-sand harbor craft, such as tugs, railroad floats, barges, etc., have been built and launched in its yard.

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