The State of Indiana, was built by Messrs. Thomas Wingate and Co., at Whiteinch, Glasgow, for the State Line, to be employed in the trade between Glasgow and New York. She was launched with all her machinery on board, and completely fitted for sea, on Aug. 27, 1874, made a trial trip on Sept. 2, and sailed from Glasgow for New York, via Larne, Belfast, on the 5th, with a full cargo of goods and a large number of passengers.
The hull was 330 ft in length, 36 ft. in breadth, and 28½ ft. in depth, with a burden of 2528 tons gross register, and was propelled by a pair of compound surface condensing engines, of 400-horse power nominal, indicating about 2000-horse power effective. She was built under special survey, and was classed A 100, the highest description of the first class in the Lloyd's registry. In addition to a large cargo capacity, accommodation was provided for 80 first-class cabin, 30 second-class cabin, and 500 third-class or steerage passengers, besides the 109 crew members, including the officers. The cabin saloon was unusually spacious, and was elegantly fitted up, with large mirrors, a piano, and a library. Abundant light and ventilation was supplied by means of a large oval well in the centre, in addition to the usual side lights. The ladies' cabin opened off the saloon, and was very tastefully furnished in blue velvet, with decorations of white enamel and gold. There was also a large circular boudoir on deck for the exclusive use of the ladies, with large plate-glass windows, shaded with blue silk hangings and floored with encaustic tiles. From this apartment a private staircase lead to a promenade deck.
There was a commodious smoking-room for gentlemen, with large windows and tiled floor. Adjoining the saloon was the chief steward's pantry, which was of extra large size, with all convenient fittings. Electric wires were led from the saloons and staterooms to that apartment; and it was in communication with the galley above by means of hoists. The staterooms were entirely separate from the saloon. They were spacious, well lighted, ventilated, and beautifully painted with white enamel and gold. Comfortable, well arranged baths and other conveniences were in that part of the vessel. The second cabins were roomy apartments, comfortably furnished as parlour and bedroom.
The steerage accommodations were unsurpassed. Separate compartments were provided for single men, for married couples and families, and for single women. Cleanliness and good ventilation prevailed throughout, and in cold weather the entire ship was heated by steam. The captain's apartments, and also those of the officers of the ship, were amidships. The forecastle presented a special feature, being semicircular, with twelve doors leading by staircases to the tweendecks, the quarters of the sailors and firemen. It also formed a shelter in bad weather. Immediately over the captain's and officers' rooms were the bridges and charthouse, from which telegraphic communication was arranged with the engine department and wheelhouse, controlling all the movements of the ship.
Besides the usual donkey engines and steam-winches there were independent steam engines for steering, hoisting ashes, or working the anchors, so as to reduce manual labour. There were numerous life-boats raised on platforms to allow passengers to walk under them, and fitted with the approved patent lowering apparatus.
The State of Indiana was the fourth vessel Messrs. Thomas Wingate and Co. built for the State Line, which then consisted of nine ships, the others having been built by the London and Glasgow Engineering and Ship-Building Company of Glasgow.
Six of the vessels were similar in size, power, and style to the State of Indiana. They constituted the line to New York, and sailed regularly every Friday from Glasgow, calling at the railway wharf at Larne, near Belfast, on Saturday morning, to take on board goods and passengers. The ships sailed on the return voyage from New York every Saturday; they called at Larne to land passengers for Ireland and those who wished to avail themselves of the most expeditious route to England without going on to Glasgow. The other three vessels belonging to the company were employed in maintaining a monthly communication between Liverpool and New Orleans.[Source: This description has been extracted from an article in The Illustrated London News, Oct 17, 1874]