Excerpt From: The Jahnke Shipyard: Building a Place in Madisonville History
by Megan Hill
The property of the Jahncke Shipyard encompassed much of Madisonville’s current footprint near where the baseball fields and Maritime Museum are today. The shipyard employed some 2,200 workers to construct six wooden ships in fulfillment of a contract with the U.S. Navy, the largest industrial effort in the history of the northshore. Though World War I ended before all of the ships were finished, the shipyard changed the face of Madisonville forever.
Fritz Jahncke emigrated from Hamburg, Germany, to New Orleans in 1870 at the age of 19 to work as a mason. Fritz was enterprising, eventually starting his own company and building a reputation. Jahncke Service Incorporated began paving the mud sidewalks of Uptown New Orleans, which in the late 1870s was considered revolutionary. He’s credited as the first person to install paved sidewalks and streets in the city.
Madisonville was the perfect location for Fritz’s growing business. “Because of the river, it was just the spot,” says Rusty Burns, a local history enthusiast with an interest in the Jahncke Shipyard. The river gave Fritz access to the raw materials he needed, while allowing him easy access to the lake and to New Orleans.
“It was such a major effort to capitalize that whole yard,” Rusty says. “The building of sawmills—and all the transportation needed, vessels and tugboats and pushboats and on and on and on. And housing.” Read More Here