Eight medium-sized ships, and one smaller one, were purchased for conversion to auxiliary cruisers during the Spanish-American War. USS Dixie, Prairie, Yankee, Yosemite and Buffalo were 7500 ton ships of very similar design. Badger, Panther and Resolute were of 4000 to 5000 tons. The former pilot boat Peoria was the smallest of the lot and later became a tug. Except for Buffalo, all these ships were very active off Cuba and elsewhere in the Carribbean, serving as cruisers and as transports. The Navy retained most of them well into the next century, using the larger ones as training ships, transports and destroyer tenders. Dixie, Prairie, Panther and Peoria remained in service until the early 1920s.
El Rio, a screw steamer, was built in 1893 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA; purchased by the Navy 15 April 1898; converted to an auxiliary cruiser by her builder; and commissioned in April 1898 as USS Dixie. As an auxiliary cruiser she carried ten 3-inch gun mounts. It was not until February 1909 that she was used as a tender. In July 1920, when the Navy switched to the modern hull numbering method, she was designated AD-1, a destroyer tender. She was decommissioned in June 1922 and sold in September.
Originally a liner, PRAIRIE was purchased by the US Navy in 1898 and took part in the Spanish American War. She was later converted to a destroyer tender.
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