Simon Lake of Pleasantville, NJ 

 Atlantic County ... 


Simon Lake was born in Pleasantville, New Jersey on September 4, 1866.

His father, the Honorable Simon Lake,  his Uncles and his brothers
                             were inventors and among the founders and developers of Atlantic City and Ocean City, NJ. 

In 1883, after finishing school, Simon entered his father's foundry and machine shop and later became his partner.  He saw ways to improve the operation of the fishing and oyster vessels and invented a steering gear and dredge.

According to a biography written by his son, Thomas Alva Edison Lake,
 Simon was inspired by reading Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. (see the Simon Lake pages)

In 1892, he submitted his first design and plans to the Navy.

"The Argonaut Jr." was built in 1894,
 by Simon Lake 
and demonstrated at the Atlantic Highlands by Sandy Hook.

Simon Lake's scheme
Click on picture to follow link to History of Submarines on PBS site.

In 1895, the Lake Submarine Company of New Jersey was formed and built "The Argonaut".
In 1898, it became the first submarine to make a successful voyage on the open sea.

Simon must have been thrilled to get a congratulatory telegram from Jules Verne. (see the Simon Lake-Jules Verne Cable page) 

Who would be awarded the US contracts for developing the submarine??

One of the prime contenders that was competing with John Holland in the U.S. was Simon Lake....

Simon Lake Submarines shows some great pictures along with a good history.


In 1901, he presented his next generation of submarines, "The Protector". Simon had hoped to compete with Holland and interest the US Navy in the new ship. However, the Russians then at war with Japan bought the submarine. It was dismantled and he went to Russia to oversea the reassembly. He then went on to build submarines for the international market.

In 1908 his services were requested by the US Navy. He built the USS Seal. 

He continued making contributions to the improvement of Submarine design. During his life he held  200 patents.  

In 1906, Lake's new submarine was rejected by the US Navy, 
                                he then sold it to Russia and went there to supervise the reassembly of "Protector". 

 If I could read Russian, I am sure, that there would be more information.

Simon Lake (?????? ????) Anyone who reads Russian, please translate this for us. Thanks!

I find it interesting that the US Navy site only starts mentioning Simon Lake after 1908.

 Excerpts about Simon Lake from: 

 United States Navy
Submarine Centennial

Submarine Technology Through the Years

 USS Seal, the first U.S. submarine built by Simon Lake. Mr. Lake was the only competitor of John Holland and is credited with the following design aspects of the modern submarine:  escape trunk, conning tower, diving planes, control room, and the rotating, retractable periscope.
 Simon Lake’s R-6 (S-83) submarine served as a test platform for the first U.S. experimental snorkel in 1945.

For More information on Simon Lake:

                     Visit the Atlantic County Historical Society

                   Winking Simon ! Come on! Give Simon A Wink ! from the The Simon Lake Submarine Web
                           hosted Jeffrey B. Lake, Great-grandson Of Simon Lake

Argonaut Does It!
(Reprinted From The Sun, Dec. 17, 1897)

                           or read a book (one is listed below)

The Submarine Legacy of Simon Lake
by John J. Poluhowich

"Lake was the classic American inventor, whose rival, John Holland, reaped most of history's praise for submarine design. However, it was Lake who in 1894, at the age of twenty-seven, launched the first practical submarine in the rivers of New Jersey. In 1898, his steel vessel the Argonaut completed a thousand-mile trek up the Atlantic coast.

Questionable governmental trials resulted in the awarding of navy contracts to Lake's rival, the Holland Torpedo Boat Company, prompting Lake to build submarines for Russia and Austria. The United States did not request Lake's service until 1908 and did not recognize his contributions to underwater navigation until after his death in 1945."


Simon Lake seems to have more International recognition then local !