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[p. 58] were lost and nearly two hundred dismasted, driven ashore and otherwise injured. The storms occurred at intervals of about a week.

In the third gale, which began December 27th and blew a hurricane until near sunrise of the 28th, the ship Columbianna was at Swett's wharf, Charlestown, partly loaded with ice, when she slipped her moorings, probably on account of the height of the tide, and was driven by the wind, bows on, against the old Charlestown bridge. She made a clean breach of the bridge and brought up against the wharf at the Warren bridge, completely demolishing the drawtender's house, although the drawtender and his family, who were in bed at the time, escaped without injury. The ship was in charge of the mate, who, finding that the vessel was adrift, took the wheel and steered her, and she would probably have gone through the Warren bridge had he not luffed her in time.

Loss of property in the three storms was nearly $1,000,000.

Passing of the Ringleader.

The Ringleader was one of the fastest of the California clipper ships. Built by Hayden & Cudworth for Howes & Crowell of Boston in 1853, she was used in the California trade while the gold rush lasted. After the gold rush was over, the clipper ships of the extreme type ceased to be built. For a time they were used in the trade with the Orient, in the tea trade to Europe and America. As tea deteriorates very fast at sea, the early American ships, on account of their speed, had the business all to themselves for a time. But the British soon constructed tea clippers which averaged nearly or quite as fast and could be operated at a lower cost. The American merchant vessels had been the pioneers in developing the commerce with various continents in the first part of the century and skimmed the cream of the trade, one after another, from these countries.

So, after the California gold rush was over, the foreign commerce in American ships had noticeably begun to decline, even before the Civil War and the advent of steam navigation, as more profitable investments could be found for capital, and the cost of operation was less

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