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RAINBOW, the first American Extreme Clipper Ship, 1845

In the 1840s, New York ship designer John W. Griffiths proposed building much faster large merchant ships with long thin bows, and the Howland & Aspinwall Shipping Line liked the idea so much that they ordered Rainbow to be built of American white oak to Griffiths’ design by Smith & Dimon Shipyard in New York. She established several records in the China trade under Captain John Land, and may also have visited California (the records are unclear) but in 1848 she is believed to have foundered in a bad storm as she sailed west around Cape Horn after only 3 years afloat. Her hull was traditionally pumpkin-colored with a black wale strake. She was 159 feet long on deck and 32 feet beam, and measured 757 tons. She had a square counter stern.

The Clipper Ship Rainbow

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