Robert Fulton

By Rik van Hemmen

Francis A. Martin, the founder of Martin & Ottaway, was a grandnephew of Robert Fulton, the first successful steamboat operator (I will not get into the debate as to who invented the steamboat, but I agree it was not Robert Fulton). Robert Fulton is a rather elusive figure who was a prolific inventor and technical promoter and a pretty good painter too.

While he is well known for the Clermont or Claremont (neither of which are the actual name of his steamboat) my favorite Fulton design is the Demologos. This steam gunnery ship only predates the USS Monitor by 50 years. It proves that one cannot sell a design before its time.

This is a recent article from the June 2011 issue of the United States Naval Institute Proceedings magazine on the Demologos.