The ill fated Collins liners Arctic and Pacific

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James: The 1856 Pacific disappearance was underreported, to say the very least, particularly in comparison to the Arctic wreck. There is a lot of information available but it is hard to track down, and there is no definitive source to turn to for all of the information. The best single item you can easily find is the March 22 1856 Frank Leslie's Illustrated (which can be found for as little as $20 from time to time) which contains not only the passenger list as provided by the Collins Line, but also a striking colored illustration of the ship at sea. My guess is that so much time elapsed between the sailing of the ship and the final announcement of loss that the impact was somewhat blunted. Also, if you have access to American Heritage back issues, there was a piece on the Collins Line back in the 1950s by the title of The Calamity Line which gives a brief account of the Pacific disappearance.
This dates to 1851, and is the cover art to a piece of sheet music by the title of Atlantic's Return- a schoettische "dedicated to Capt James West." The print was done by the well know Endicott firm, and was later used unchanged on a set of sheet music about the loss of the Arctic. In its 13 inch form it is considerably better detailed than this scan suggests, but the green, maroon, green-with-grey-trim color scheme of the hull did not scan particularly well. One of my favorite seldom seen views of the Collins line.
Jim --

If you have it, check out the similar painting of PS Atlantic on pg 46 of Kludas' "Record Breakers of the North Atlantic" (and if you don't have the book, get it, it's one of my favorites). Looks like a re-paint of the same image, also showing the short lived mizzen mast.
Was it this one, which was run as a memorial in 1854? I've not seen the Kludas book. Again the scan is kind of mediocre because I did not want to take this out of its frame, but the details on this print are again very sharp and the colors are dark but not muddy as they appear here.

I have been trying to find good quality photos of any of the Collins ships- I have found a pair of deck shots aboard the Atlantic and a clear broadside view of the Adriatic, plus the oft-reprinted stereoview of the two Collins ships docked in NYC. If anyone knows of others which have been reprinted please let me know.

Thanks for the image Jim!
It occoured to me Walter Lord's college thesis was about the Arctic sinking..are copies of his thesis available to the public?


tarn Stephanos
You are welcome Tarn. Here is another, of the Pacific, dating from 1856. This was scanned in its frame as well, but being a large image the colors transferred a bit better.

Good question about Walter Lord's thesis. One might begin by consulting the library of whichever university or college he attended to see if it was published, and if not to see if they have it on file and are authorised to photocopy or lend it. If it was published, the university might have a reference or lending copy.

TARN: Walter Lord's senior thesis was done at Princeton in 1939. The title of it was: The Rise and Fall of the Collins Line. It was unpublished, but you might want to contact the Princeton Library online and see if they have a manuscript copy on file. If they do,and there are no legal restrictions on it, you may be able to get it photocopied.

Jason D. Tiller

I just purchased a book on the Arctic titled "The Sea Shall Embrace Them" written by David Shaw. I've only skimmed through it, but it has some great photos of the ship. It looks like a terrific read!

Best regards,

Jason- You are welcome. I'm going to be away from my scanner for about a month and a half, but I have some news Collins stuff and a ton and a half of Normandie and Morro Castle items to put up when I get back.
There is a good photo of the Artic in "Women and Children last". it is from the early days of photography, so its not quite as clear as the paintings or line drawings of the day, but its nice if you want to see an actual photo. i have heard some people say Shaw's and Brown's books are mostly the same, not quite true. Shaw tends to concentrate more on luce and the others on the paddle wheel box, moments after from vesta ramming artic til rescue, and also better detail on luce and keyn and officers. where browns book tends to concentrate more on before the artic was rammed and after it, and has some better details on the vesta and other ships involved in the disaster and also the brown family.
There is a new book out, Transatlantic, which contains a bit more information on the fate of the Pacific. It seems that only her bow section was found back in the 1980s, which raises more questions than it answers about her loss. There was an article in one of the more obscure archaeological journals about the exploration of said, of which I am trying to get a copy.
I am new to the Encyclopedia Titanica and have been having much fun going through the archives here. The Collins Line is one of my favorite subjects to research. A copy of Walter Lord's thesis resides at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA. To see some researched recreations of the Collins liner SS Baltic check out the US Flagged Liners page at

Just so you know the wreck of the Arctic has been located and filmed but no information will be released until the salvage rights have been cleared in court. I still cannot name the source of my information which was received in April of 2008. Keep an ear out in news sources soon for more details.
Welcome to
, Russell! I'm also interested in the Arctic after reading Brown's Women And Children Last in High School!


Just so you know the wreck of the Arctic has been located and filmed but no information will be released until the salvage rights have been cleared in court.
Thank you for the information! I'll keep an ear open for that!
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