An early American pioneering transatlantic packet, TORONTO of the New York-to-London Black X Line dominates the waterway off the Needles on the western edge of the Isle of Wight. The view show the American Packet’s stern with her name and home port vivid beneath an American ensign with an excess of red-and-white stripes. In a stylized manner, Thomas Buttersworth envisioned the remnants of a rain squall with an illuminating break in the center sky, an artistic element his descendant J.E. Buttersworth would incorporate in his paintings. Thomas rounds out the contingent of ships with a British Brig headed out, two smaller sailing yawls, most likely a pilot and an unusual fishing vessel following TORONTO to port, and distant vessels. The heights of the Isle of Wight and the rocky Needles make this location a welcome sight after a Transatlantic crossing.
TORONTO was built in 1835 by C. Bergh & Co. Of New York, alongside her near-identical sister ship, WESTMINISTER. Measuring 135'3"L x 32'2"B x 20'5"D, she weighed 631 Tons. Owned by founding brothers John Griswold of New York and Charles C. Griswold of Savannah, Georgia, the Black X Line began in 1812. TORONTO’s first captain was Robert Griswold, and future captain Charlie Low was a young crew-member. TORONTO would serve this route for 13 years before being put into the New York-to-New Orleans trade in 1848, and sinking off the coast of Cuba mysteriously in 1851. A highlight, she won a westerly crossing race with two steam liners in 1846 from Portsmouth to New York, making the travel in 41 days by heading north to avoid winter ice flows and a northwester that blew bitterly cold for weeks, beating the steamers by several days. Here, on possibly her maiden run, her bow slices the rolling rhythmic green swells blowing uncharacteristically eastward toward America.
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