Editor's Note: The following text is a verbatim transcription of an article written by George W. Murdock, for the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman newspaper in the 1930s. Murdock, a veteran marine engineer, wrote a regular column. Articles transcribed by HRMM volunteer Adam Kaplan. For more of Murdock's articles, see the "Steamboat Biographies" category at right.
No. 80- Chrystenah
The “Chrystenah” is one of the vessels of the Hudson River that is not so well known- yet she saw service in a variety of places and carried hundreds of passengers without the recorded loss of a life.
The wooden hull of the “Chrystenah” was built by William Dickey at Nyack, New York, in 1866, and the engine from the steamboat “Broadway” was rebuilt by McCurdy & Warren of Jersey City and placed in the new vessel. Dimensions of the “Chrystenah” are listed as follows: Length of hull, 106 feet five inches, breadth of beam, 30 feet two inches; depth of hold, nine feet three inches; gross tonnage, 571; net tonnage, 417; powered by a vertical beam engine with a cylinder diameter of 50 inches with an 11 foot stroke.
Built expressly for the New York-Nyack route, the “Chrystenah” soon gained a reputation as a very fast steamboat. Although she was only a medium size vessel, she was a creation of beauty, judged by the construction of steamboats of that period. When she first appeared, the “Chrystenah” left Nyack in the morning, sailing to New York and returning in the afternoon. Later when it was discovered that she possessed speed in abundance, her route was extended to Peekskill and she made one round trip per day from that city to the metropolis. It is a matter of record that the “Chrystenah” was one of the fastest one-pipe steamboats that ever plied the waters of the lower Hudson River.
In 1907 the “Chrystenah” was purchased by Captain David C. Woolsey and Captain Nelson and continued on the same route for some time. Later her owners took her to Newburgh where she was chartered out for excursions during the summer months on the upper Hudson River. Occasionally she was chartered to the Hudson River Day Line and used for carrying baggage for the Day Line vessels. In 1911 the “Chrystenah” was brought to New York and used in service between New York and Coney Island.
The following year (1912) the “Chrystenah” was placed in service on the route between New York and Keansburgh, New Jersey, running in opposition to the regular Keansburgh vessels. She continued plying this route until 1917 when she was transferred to the Stamford-New York route. Later she became an excursion steamer in and around New York and Long Island.
In the fall of 1920 the “Chrystenah” was laid up at New Rochelle, and during the winter was wrecked by a storm, being blown into the mouth of Echo Creek and wedged between the stone walls of the creek. The insurance company paid a total loss to her owners. The City of New Rochelle acquired title to the wrecked steamboat and sold her at public auction for one dollar. Frederick Wenck purchased the remains of the “Chrystenah” and floated her at high tide, towing her to Oyster Bay with the intention of rebuilding her into a ferryboat. This reconstruction never occurred and the “Chrystenah” was dismantled, her machinery removed, and the hull run aground on the beach on Long Island Sound, opposite Oyster Bay.
George W. Murdock, (b. 1853-d. 1940) was a veteran marine engineer who served on the steamboats "Utica", "Sunnyside", "City of Troy", and "Mary Powell". He also helped dismantle engines in scrapped steamboats in the winter months and later in his career worked as an engineer at the brickyards in Port Ewen. In 1883 he moved to Brooklyn, NY and operated several private yachts. He ended his career working in power houses in the outer boroughs of New York City. His mother Catherine Murdock was the keeper of the Rondout Lighthouse for 50 years.
This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
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