Photos by Mark Renz, April 2006

From occupying Wall Street to occupying a LaBelle canal

Here lies Navette, a 114 ft. Hereshoff steam commuter, built in 1916 for American financier J. P. Morgan's son, "Jack Morgan Jr.". Original power was a specially built pair of triple expansion steam engines that used steam from a high capacity coal-fired boiler. Mr. Morgan commuted daily from his Centre Island estate through Long Island Sound and the East River to Wall Street. Later, Edward C. Warren, inventor of the Warren steam engine, used Navette as a test vessel for his own engines.

Warren and some of his 10 children lived aboard the Navette. During World War II, they found themselves without a licensed engineer. Daughter Marjorie passed all the required exams to become the first female licensed chief steam engineer in the United States. Sister Dorothy, who also lived aboard, became master of the vessel.

The Warrens and their yacht gradually moved south to the remote reaches of Lake Okeechobee and the beautiful little town of LaBelle. The two sisters lived aboard Navette for 25 years before passing. The vessel gradually sank and has since been removed.

The LaBelle Heritage Museum has one of the vessel's engines on display.

(Source: Rebecca Herreshoff article, courtesy of LaBelle Heritage Museum director Joseph Thomas)

Follow-up from Joseph Thomas (will update this page as additional information surfaces):

Mark --

I am beginning to have some doubts about the story of Edward C. Warren and the rotary steam engine. He worked with Nikola Tesla, and Tesla had patents for a rotary steam engine as early as 1911 and also worked on internal combustion rotary engines prior to the famous Wankel rotary engines. I have not been able to come up with any Warren patents for a rotary steam engine but cannot say they are not there .

So, did Warren actually design the engine patented by Tesla, or did Warren appropriate Tesla's 1911 design for his 1938 rotary steam turbine?


LaBelle Heritage Museum: click here.