The Fritschers

Castle Garden

The  S.S.Oder

The S. S. Elbe



In the middle 1800's the steam engine began to take over shipping. On May 29, 1850, the first Hamburg steamship sailed over the Atlantic Ocean to America. In 1856 there were two 2400 ton steamships put into service on the direct route from Hamburg to New York. More steamers followed, but the cost of passage was more than that of the sailing ships. Ships leaving Bremen sailed north up the Weser River to the North Sea and on to America, sometimes stopping in Southampton, England.  Most German emigrants travelled as steerage passengers


The direct voyage to New York, which had lasted 43 to 63 days on a sailing ship, was shortened to a maximum of 10 to 14 days by steamer. The steamship changed the lengthy, tough, unhealthy and dangerous sea voyage of the sailing ship age into a much quicker voyage. The Atlantic Ocean crossing to America changed for the better.


 In 1856 only five percent of the emigrants landing in New York came by steamship, but by 1870 it was eighty-eight percent. Increased competition pushed fares down so that steamship crossings finally cost less than sailings. In 1876, when the Fritscher family traveled to their new home in America, passage cost about $30. It was in 1879 that the last emigrant sailing vessel left Hamburg making the steamship the sole method of transportation.