Editor's Note: This story is from the October 5, 1889 issue of Harper's Weekly. The tone of the article reflects the time period in which it was written.
"A Barge Party - On our next page we have a view of a merry party enjoying a moonlight row on the Hudson River. The barge belongs to the Nyack Rowing Association. The scene is that wide and beautiful expanse of the Hudson which our Dutch ancestors named the Tappan Zee. It lies between Tarrytown and Nyack, and although not beyond the reach of tide-water and subject to the current, it still possesses the attraction of a calm and beautiful lake. Viewed from certain points it loses the impression of a river altogether, and seems a fair and beautiful sheet of water locked in by towering hills. The light-house in the centre of the picture is known as the Tarrytown Bay Light. On the left lies Kingsland Island, and in the background we have the village of Tarrytown, adorned with its gleaming electric lights.
These rowing parties are a source of keen delight to the lady friends of the members of each association. So far the clubs had not yielded sufficiently to the spirit of the age to admit lady members, and if any one connected with the association desires to give his fair friends an outing, he must engage the barge beforehand and make it a special event. As a general thing it is required that some member of the club shall act as coxswain; this to assure safety to the previous craft. The party may then be made up in accordance with the fancy of the gentleman who acts as host. Most of the associations have very attractive club-houses, where, after the pleasure of rowing has begun to pall, parties can assemble, have supper, and if there are lady guests sufficient, enjoy a dance. The club-house of the Nyack Association is a very attractive structure, built over the water, and forms a pleasant feature in the landscape. The members of these clubs are not heavily taxed, their dues scarcely amounting to more than $25 or $50 per year, yet their club-houses are daintily furnished, their boats of the best and finest build, and all their appurtenances of a superior order. So much can be done by combination.
In our glorious Hudson River we have a stream that the world cannot rival, so wonderful is its picturesque loveliness. High upon the walls of the Governor’s Room in the New York City Hall is a dingy painting of a broad-headed, short-haired, sparsely bearded man, with an enormous ruff about his neck, and wearing otherwise the costume of the days of King James the First of England. Who painted it nobody knows, but all are well aware that it is the portrait of one Hendrik Hudson, who “on a May-day morning knelt in the church of St. Ethelburga, Amsterdam, and partook of the sacrament, and soon after left the Thames for circumpolar waters.” It was on the 11th of September, 1609, that this same mariner passed through a narrow strait on an almost unknown continent, and entered upon a broad stream where “the indescribable beauty of the virgin land through which he was passing filled his heart and mind with exquisite pleasure.”
The annually increasing army of tourists and pleasure seekers, which begin their campaign every spring and continue their march until late in the autumn, sending every year a stronger corps of observation into these enchanted lands, all agree with Hendrik Hudson. Certainly it only remains for tradition to weave its romances, and for a few of our more gifted poets and story-tellers to guild with their imagination these wonderful hills and valleys, these sunny slopes and fairy coves and inlets, to make for us an enchanted land that shall rival the heights where the spectre of the Brocken dwells, or any other elf-inhabited spot in Europe.
Thank you to HRMM volunteer George Thompson, retired New York University reference librarian, for sharing these glimpses into early life in the Hudson Valley.
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Steamer "Chrystenah", 1866 - 1922
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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