Propeller Indiana’s Capstan

Description
The capstan, most commonly found on the decks of early steamboats, was used as a vertical winch for raising or lowering anchors, hoisting sails and cargo, hauling heavy lines, or other jobs where individual manpower was not enough.
It was operated manually, by putting timbers into the holes and using the resulting leverage to wind a line wrapped around the center of the device more easily. Sea chanties, or rhythmic songs, were often employed by ship crews to ensure that everyone hauled at the same time. Later in the 19th century, steam capstans and donkey engines replaced human muscle on the larger vessels.
Object Name
capstan
date made
mid-1800s
Measurements
overall: 34 in x 28 in; 86.36 cm x 71.12 cm
ID Number
1984.0359.02
accession number
1984.0359
catalog number
1984.0359.02
subject
Transportation
Work
Energy & Power
Industry & Manufacturing
On the Water exhibit
event
Expansion and Reform
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
On the Water exhibit
Exhibition
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
John Steele and William Cohrs
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL
http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.