Steamboat Days
by: Fred Erving Dayton
Illustrated by: John Wolcott Adams

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CHAPTER 4
Hudson River Steamboats

Steamboats of Recent Times (1900's)

The People's Line brought out Adirondack, Captain S. J. Roe, in 1896, the last steamboat to be wholly built by John Englis & Son. Adirondack measured 3,644 tons, 440 feet length, 50 feet beam and 12 feet depth of hold. W. & A. Fletcher Company built the engine with cylinder 81 inches diameter by 12 feet stroke. During the World War Adirondack served as a Navy barracks at Brooklyn Navy Yard and afterwards tied up at Athens, waiting upon the wreckers.

Hendrick Hudson was built in 1896 by Marvel & Company, Newburgh, for the Day Line, from plans by Frank E. Kirby and Millard & Brother, the deck houses being built by John Englis & Son. Hendrick Hudson is registered 2,847 tons, 379 feet length, 45 feet beam, 82 feet over guards, 13 feet depth of hold and 8 feet draught. W. & A. Fletcher Company built the compound engine with cylinders 45 and 70 inches diameters by 7 feet stroke and the paddle wheels are 24 feet diameter, feathering type, and the speed 23 miles.

The Marvel yard built Onteora, 1,241 tons, in 1898 for the Catskill Evening Line, 250 feet length, 35 feet beam and 10 feet depth of hold. The engine was built by the Fletchers with cylinder 55 inches diameter by 10 feet stroke. Clermont, 1,864 tons, was built for the same line in 1911, being 271 feet length, 39 feet beam and 12 feet depth of hold. The engine had cylinder 55 inches diameter by 11 feet stroke.

The Catskill Evening Line, long a popular vacation route, could not hold against motor cars when roads had been built into the mountains and Clermont and Onteora were sold to the Interstate Park Commission to run to Bear Mountain. The Catskill Line survives as a freight route, operating Storm King, built in 1911, a modern freight propeller, 192 feet length, 40 feet beam and 12 feet depth of hold, Catskill built 1923, 186.9 feet length, 40.4 feet beam and 11.4 feet depth of hold, and Reserve, a spare boat.

C. W. Morse came to dominate the Hudson Navigation Company and planned a great steamboat to bear his name. C. W. Morse was built at Wilmington in 1903 by Harlan & Hollingsworth Company, licensed for 2,000 passengers, 427 feet length, 50.6 feet beam, 90 feet over guards, 14. feet depth of hold and 9 feet draught. W. & A. Fletcher Company built the engine, 4,500 horse power with cylinder 81 inches diameter by 12 feet stroke. Feathering paddles are 34 feet diameter. The involved affairs of Morse dragged the company to receivership and the receivers changed C. W. Morse's name to Fort Orange.

The Hudson Navigation Company brought out two new steamers in 1909 for the Citizens' Line, Trojan and Rensselaer, sister boats of 2,000 tons. Marvel & Co. built the hulls, John Englis & Son the superstructures and W. & A. Fletcher Company the engines, having cylinder 70 inches diameter by 12 feet stroke. A new boat was built for the Albany night line in 1909, to replace Adirondack, first to be named Princeton, but launched as Berkshire. The hull was built by the New York Shipbuilding Company, Camden, N. J., and John Englis & Son built the deck houses and the Fletchers built the engine, having cylinder 85 inches diameter by 12 feet stroke. Berkshire registers 4,500 tons, 440 feet length, 50.6 feet beam, 88 feet over guards and 14.6 feet depth of hold.

The Day Line added Robert Fulton, Captain Ira Harcourt, in 1909, built by Marvel & Co., Newburgh, 337 feet length, 42 feet beam, 12.4 feet depth of hold and 2,168 tons. The engine came from New York. Washington Irving followed in 1913, built by the New York Shipbuilding Company, Camden, N. J., 416 feet length, 47 feet beam, 14.6 feet depth of hold, with beam engine, 6,200 horse power and cylinders 45 inches by 70 inches by 70 inches diameters by 7 feet stroke.

De Witt Clinton, a twin-screw five-decked steel-hulled propeller, was built by Harlan & Hollingsworth Company in 1913 for the Grand Trunk Railroad's Providence-New York service, a line which never operated. De Witt Clinton was rebuilt in 1921, following war duty, for the Day Line's Bear Mountain service, being 320 feet length, 48 feet beam, 22 feet depth of hold, and the twin-screw engines are rated 4,000 horse power.

A new day liner, Alexander Hamilton, Captain Dizer, designed by J. W. Millard & Brother, was built in 1923-24 by the Sparrow s Point plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company, 348 feet length, 76 feet extreme beam, 13.8 feet depth of hold and $750.000 cost. A triple expansion inclined engine is supplied with steam from two single and two double Scotch boilers burning oil. Rangely was purchased from the Maine Central Railroad in 1925, renamed Chauncey M. Depew to run to Indian Point. The long time policy of the Hudson River Day Line against Sunday operation met change in 1916 and the fleet capacity has since been available to Sunday travelers.

The Manhattan Line, an opposition service, competed for Albany and Troy trade in 1915 with one dollar fares, bringing on old boats. Kennebec from the Boston-Bath run was renamed Iroquois. Frank Jones from the Portland-Machias route became Fenimore. Central Hudson was chartered and when lost was succeeded by Kaaterskill, under charter. The competition hurt the People's Line, charging higher fares, and C. W. Morse purchased the Manhattan Line and its fleet for the Hudson Navigation Company and continued the cheaper service. Two old boats were added to the Manhattan Line, Penobscot, which became Mohawk, and Saratoga, which had been succeeded by Trojan. The Manhattan Line continued two seasons under the Hudson Navigation Company's ownership when the World War ended the service. Fenimore, late Frank Jones, was taken by the Navy to haul ammunition and blew up in York River. Mohawk was cut down for a barge at Noank. Iroquois was tied up at Norfolk, 1923, and Kaaterskill broken up at New London.

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