PIONEER was built as a sloop in Marcus Hook,
Pennsylvania in 1885 to carry sand mined near the mouth of the Delaware Bay
to an iron foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was re-rigged as a schooner
ten years later.
In the days before paved
roads, small coastal schooners such as PIONEER were the delivery trucks of
their era, carrying various cargoes between coastal communities: lumber and
stone from the islands of Maine, brick on the Hudson River, and oyster shell
on the Chesapeake Bay. Almost all American cargo sloops and schooners were
wood, but because she was built in what was then this country’s center of
iron shipbuilding, Pioneer had wrought-iron hull. She was the first of only
two cargo sloops built of iron in this country, and is the only iron-hulled
American merchant sailing vessel still in existence.
By 1930, when new owners moved her from the Delaware River to Massachusetts,
she had been fitted with an engine, and was no longer using sails. In 1966
she was substantially rebuilt and turned into a sailing vessel once again.
Today she plies the waters of NY Harbor carrying adults and children instead
of cargo in her current role as a piece of “living history.”
PIONEER sails 6 days a
week, and is also available for private charters, school groups, birthday
parties and other events. (Source: http://southstreetseaportmuseum.org)