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Simon Lake

Biographical Sketch

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   SIMON LAKE, distinguished marine engineer, played a major part in the development of the submarine as a practical device.  "PERHAPS no man in the past century has had as much to do with the shape of history as Simon Lake. That statement is intended as a query rather than as a statement of fact. It may be debatable, but it is also defendable." (from the Forward by Herbert Corey in the Autobiography Of Simon Lake, 1938 ).           

   Simon Lake was born in Pleasantville, N.J., September 4, 1866, the son of Christopher J. Lake whose father was the Honorable Simon Lake, one of the founders of Atlantic City and Ocean City, New Jersey. The Honorable Simon Lake and his brothers built the first highway and bridge to Atlantic City and were instrumental in having the first railroads established to both cities.

   SIMON LAKE was a descendant of John Lake, one of the patentees and founders of Gravesend, now South Brooklyn, N.Y., and in the maternal line from Jeremy Adams, who settled in Cambridge, Mass., 1632, was one of the founders of Hartford, Conn.

   SIMON LAKE was educated in the High School of Toms River, N.J., Clinton Liberal Institute, Fort Plain, N.Y., and in the Mechanical Course at Franklin Institute, Philadelphia. He entered his father's foundry and machine shop in NJ in 1883, and later became his partner. He invented a steering gear, dredge and other vessel appliances, of which many were built, and were chiefly used by fishing and oyster vessels in the Chesapeake and Delaware bays.

   Inspired by Jules Verne's , Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, Simon Lake designed and submitted plans to the Navy in 1892. In 1894 he built his first experimental submarine, "The Argonaut, Jr.," that was successfully demonstrated in at Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey  by Sandy Hook. The success led to the formation of the Lake Submarine Company of New Jersey in 1895, which built the Argonaut,  the first submarine to operate successfully in the open sea in 1898, and which subsequently drew a congratulatory telegram from Jules Verne. In 1901, The Lake Torpedo Boat Company was formed in New Jersey, which became the main company that built numerous submarines for the United States and foreign countries. Simon Lake served as president and general manager  until 1916, and then vice-president and consulting engineer.

   SIMON LAKE developed his invention to great perfection, especially his submarine torpedo boats, but he also predicted for  the submarine a valuable place in commercial  transportation, location of sunken ships and cargoes, successful navigation of Northern waters, reaching the Orient in the summer season by the Northern route above Russia from England north of Russia to Japan, by submarine ship, which can readily under-run the few ice flows that would be encountered near the shores in the summer season. Other ice-bound waters, such as the Baltic Sea, the Great Lakes, etc., could be used, even in closed seasons, by cargo-carrying submarines. He predicts wide use of the submarine in the cultivation and recovery of oysters and other edible shellfish, pearl and sponge fisheries, new and more efficient methods of charting and improving waterways, etc.

   Founded, 1917, he was president of The Housatonic Shipbuilding Company, which is built vessels for the United States Shipping Board; president of The Merchant Submarine Company and The Lake Heat Engine Company, which has built two very successful experimental heavy oil reversible internal combustion engines (diesel). He was also treasurer of The Argonaut Salvage Corporation, organized to build and equip submarine vessels to use Mr. Lake's inventions for location and recovery of sunken vessels and cargoes.

   MR. LAKE  was a member of the Institution of Naval Architects of Great Britain, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, The Society of Mechanical Engineers, The Concrete Institute; associate member of the Naval Engineers, Washington, D.C.; honorary member National Institute of Inventors; member of the Engineers' Club, New York City; Algonquin and Black Rock Country Clubs, Bridgeport; Patriots and Founders of America, Society of Colonial Wars, Sons of the American Revolution, the Masons and Knights of Pythias.

   SIMON LAKE is credited with the development of the basic submarine technologies which are essential for safe and successful operation of the submarine; such as, even-keel hydroplanes, ballast tanks, divers' compartment, periscope, twin-hull design, and much more. No modern submarine could operate today without using the advancements made by Simon Lake, and which were adopted worldwide by the early 1900's. He achieved over 200 patents in his lifetime.

     SIMON LAKE was originally referred to as a "Pioneer Submarine Inventor". Today, Simon Lake is regarded as ...The Father Of The Modern Submarine.


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