Russian Winans


Ross Winans (1796–1877) was an American inventor, mechanic, and builder of locomotives and railroad machinery, and multi-millionaire.  In the mid-19th century Winans and his son Thomas designed and built a series of spindle-shaped boats, usually referred to as the "cigar ships." The first cigar-ship was constructed in 1858 and featured an unprecedented (and in the end, technically unfeasible) midship propeller, enclosed in a shroud. After the Civil War, Winans and his son took their enterprise to Europe, and several boats were built in England and in St. Petersburg, Russia. In July 1861 William Louis Winans prepared a detailed proposal to the Russian government for three vessels based on “the Spindle Principle,” including one at 504’ length and 3000-ton displacement. This particular cigar-ship was never built; only a drawing and proposal letter exists describing it to the Russian government.