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The National Line (National Steam Navigation Company) was founded in Liverpool in 1863. The first intention of this line was to sail Liverpool to the US south. However, due to the civil war, routes were set up to New York. The National Line was one of the first lines to establish agencies all over Norway, and became quite popular in the early years. The Norwegians that traveled by this line had to go via England, as they had no direct sailing from Norwegian ports. In 1870 the company added London - New York sailings and made irregular Boston sailings.

National Line steamship advert

Advertisement by the Trondheim agent "Wallin" in the newspaper "Trondhjems Adressecontors Efterretninger April 2nd, 1870: "The American Emigration Company conveys emigrants to all parts of the United States by the national Line's steamships, namely: France 3571 tons, Pennsylvania 2889 tons, Erin 3318 tons, Italy 3700 tons, Helvetia 3318 tons, England 3307 tons, Denmark 3118 tons, Egypt (under construction) 4000 tons, The Queen 3517 tons, Virginia 2887 tons, Holland 3530 tons Spain (under construction) 4000 tons. These ships are the biggest and most comfortable that are sailing the Atlantic; every Wednesday they depart from Liverpool, the Eirin on the 6th of April, the France extra on the 9th of April, Virginia on the 13th of April, Pennsylvania on the 20th of April, the Helvetia on the 27th of April and so on, as will be announced later. This company conveys from Sweden almost the same amount of emigrants as all the other companies together, and also in Norway it has a good reputation by their main agent Mr. O. Svenson. By the National Line steamships about 20 000 Scandinavians will cross the ocean this year, and because of this the emigrants will not be exposed much to emigrants of other nationalities aboard the ships. The ships carry doctors and Norwegian interpreters and stewards. Passengers enrolls and further information can be obtained from the undersigned, who spent 10 years in America, and thus is well aquatinted to the conditions there. Wallin, Strandgaden Nr. 3. "

The National Steamship Company was the third of the transatlantic steamship companies to establish in Trondheim when it first became represented by agent Wallin in 1870. It became a hard competitor to the Allan Line and Anchor Line which was established in the city a few years before. As seen from the above advertisement the company was represented by general agent O. Svenson in 1870. The general agent was situated in Christiania (Oslo), and a network of sub agents was soon established all over Norway. Later the general agent was T. C. Kloed 1884 - 1885, and Joh. Krantz 1888 - 1890.

The following is an advert from an advertising card issued by the New York agent about 1880:

National Line, Passenger Steamships. Comprising Twelve of the largest ocean steam-ships (belonging to the company) in the Atlantic Service, leaving the port of New York, the aggregate tonnage of which amounts to 52.666 tons.

These passenger Steamers have been constructed in the best manner, at the most celebrated Ship-Yards in Great Britain. They are built of iron and steel, in water tight and fire-proof compartments, are of unusual strength and power, and magnificently equipped. They are rated among the finest in the World. As these Steamers are of the largest class, and of remarkable steadiness at Sea, Passengers are not so liable to sickness or discomforts.

The Salons and Staterooms are very spacious and cheerful; finely lighted and ventilated, and elegantly furnished. The Table will compare favorably with that of the best Hotels in England. Ladies Boudoir-also Piano, Library, Smoking, and Bath Rooms, etc. A Surgeon, Stewards, and Stewardesses on every Steamer. Medicine and attendance free.

The steerage is large, light and airy, and warmed by Steam in winter. Married couples and families are berthed together; Single persons placed in separate rooms. Meals are served regularly three times a day by the Ship's Stewards, and consists of an unlimited quantity of good and wholesome provisions, put on board under the inspection of the Company's Purveyor. Plenty of fresh drinking water. The care of Surgeon and Stewards free.

Saloon, $50, $60, $70,..Excursion, $100, $110, $120
Steerage, to Scandinavian or German Ports, - $32
Steerage, from Scandinavian or German Ports, - $30
Steerage, from or to Principal Ports in Great Britain, - $26

For Passage, Plans of Saloons, Dates of Sailing, Drafts, etc., Apply to the Local Agents or to
F. W. HURST; Manager,
69, 71 and 73 Brodway, New York

They later ran ships from London to New York fortnightly. In 1884, the America made the voyage in 6 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes. Apart from one sailing in 1894, the passenger service to New York was discontinued in 1892. The company was taken over by the Atlantic Transport Line and ran freight services only. The National line went into voluntary liquidation in 1914.

National Line picture gallery

Fleet list:
 TypeName of ship  SortYear Built   SortConstruction Shipyard   SortTonnage (burthen)   Sort
  S/SAmerica (1)1883 J. & G. Thomson & Co. 5 528 gross 
  S/SAmerica (2)1890 Gourlay & Co. 5 158 gross 
  S/SCanada1863 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 4 276 gross 
  S/SDenmark1865 Pearse & Lockwood 2 870 gross 
  S/SEgypt1871 Liverpool Shipbuilding Co. 4 670 gross 
  S/SEngland1865 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 3 308 gross 
  S/SErin1864 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 3 325 gross 
  S/SFrance1867 Thos. Royden & Co 3 572 gross 
  S/SGreece1863 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 4 310 gross 
  S/SHelvetia1864 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 3 318 gross 
  S/SHolland1858 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 3 847 gross 
  S/SItaly1870 John Elder & Co. 4 169 gross 
  S/SLouisiana1858 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 2 266 gross 
  S/SOntario1864 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 3 325 gross 
  S/SPennsylvania1863 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 2 872 gross 
  S/SScotland1865 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 3 308 gross 
  S/SSpain1871 Laird Bros 4 512 gross 
  S/SThe Queen1865 Laird Bros 3 412 gross 
  S/SVirginia1863 Palmer‘s Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. 2 876 gross 

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Some companies may have had additional ships in their fleets to those mentioned above. They might not have been included if the ships were not engaged in the conveyance of emigrants. Some ships mentioned in the fleet lists may have been chartered from other companies, see the ship's description and history for more details.

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A selection of articles dedicated to help you in your genealogy search for your Norwegian ancestors. Transcripts and pictures of historic documents in connection with the ships and emigration. Also including articles about Pioneers & Norwegian Settlements Around the World
Articles about selected ships ships and special events in their history. Descriptions of some of the great maritime disasters involving emigrant ships, like the wrecking of the steamer Atlantic of the White Star Line, sinking of the ocean liner Empress of Ireland and the Thingvalla line steamer Norge disaster. Check this section if you have an interest in shipwrecks.
This section contains articles describing the transatlantic voyage, the condition of the steerage accommodations and the experience of an ocean travel on an emigrant ship. You will find in-depth studies concerning the emigration process, statistics and facts, and information about the immigration processing centers line Castle Garden and Ellis Island.
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