“An old seafaring world comes to life in this examination of the coastal trade of the mid-1800s…. An absorbing and comprehensive study of a sea captain and place largely forgotten by history.” — Kirkus Reviews (Featured Indie Book Review of the day)
“…the author deftly creates a ‘life and times’ of Asa Eldridge that stands in requiem for not only Eldridge, but for a wider class of forgotten heroes…”
— Sea History magazine (National Maritime Historical Society)
“A tale of war, peace, extraordinary heroism, and heartbreaking tragedy… Highly recommended, especially for public library nautical and biography collections.” — Midwest Book Review
“…a great read for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the peninsula’s history and its impact on the nation.” — Cape Cod Times
In January 1856 the USM Pacific, one of America’s first steam-powered ocean liners, left Liverpool for New York. She was never seen again. That winter was particularly brutal, with many ships reporting large fields of ice in the North Atlantic–including a British liner that left Liverpool three days after the Pacific and was delayed and damaged by ice on her way to New York. So when the Pacific failed to appear at her destination, the general conclusion was that she had suffered mortal damage after colliding with a large mass of ice.
The loss of the Pacific brought a tragic end to the stellar career of her captain, Asa Eldridge. Two years previously, sailing a clipper ship from New York to Liverpool, he had set a transatlantic speed record that still stands today. And before that he had been hand-picked by Cornelius Vanderbilt to skipper the tycoon’s private steam-yacht on a four-month cruise around Europe.
That prestigious assignment from Vanderbilt reflected Eldridge’s vast experience commanding a variety of vessels sailing to many different parts of the world. Intriguingly, the various phases of his career happened to coincide with key developments in maritime commerce that had profound effects on the international standing and growth of the US. And so in telling Eldridge’s story, The Lost Hero of Cape Cod also provides a guided tour to what many experts consider the “golden age” of US maritime history.