Material: Steel Hull, Iron Frames
Length: 102 ft. (overall)
Breadth: 22 ft.
Gross Tonnage: 47
Net Tonnage: 37
Draft: 4.5 ft. (w/centerboard up) 12 ft. (w/centerboard down)
Mast Height: 76.6 ft.
Sail Area: 2,737 sq. ft.
Auxiliary Engine: Diesel
Passenger Capacity: 35
Pioneer was originally built in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania in 1885 to carry sand mined near the mouth of the Delaware Bay to an iron foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was re-rigged as a schooner ten years later when the sloop rig lost favor, primarily for economic reasons—the large single sail took more crew members to handle than the smaller sails of the two-masted rig.
In the days before paved roads, schooners were the delivery trucks of their era, carrying various cargoes between coastal communities: lumber and stone from the islands of Maine, brick on the Hudson River, and oyster shell on the Chesapeake Bay. Almost all American cargo sloops and schooners were wood, but because she was built in what was then this country's center of iron shipbuilding, Pioneer had wrought iron hull. She was the first of only two cargo sloops built of iron in this country, and is the only iron-hulled American merchant sailing vessel still in existence.
By 1930, when new owners moved her from the Delaware River to Massachusetts, she had been fitted with an engine, and was no longer using sails. In 1966 Russell Grinnell, Jr. of Gloucester, Massachusetts decided to rescue Pioneer, rebuild her hull with steel plating, restore the schooner rig, and use her in his dock building business. He unfortunately died in 1970 and that same year Pioneer was donated to the museum, where, manned by a crew of professionals and volunteers, she sails daily, taking the public on harbor tours.