In the summer of 1881, rumors of a planned exhibition race between the Mary Powell and the steamboat Albany were popular fodder for speculation in local newspapers. But despite the boasts of Captain Hitchcock of the Albany, Captain Absalom Lent Anderson could not be persuaded to join.
The following text is a verbatim transcription of "Rivals of the Hudson" published in the New York Herald on August 5, 1881. Many thanks to volunteer George Thompson for finding and transcribing this article.
Rivals of the Hudson. The Mary Powell and Albany as Speedy Travellers.
It is not a new thing for steamboats on the Hudson, in their eager competition for popular favor, to try to outrival each other in speed. This keen rivalry has been a source of endless entertainment to the denizens of the romantic banks of the American Rhine, and it has been useful at least in this, that it has given to the wayfarers in search of the beauties of the noble river the advantage of travelling on what are undoubtedly the fastest steamers in the world. No one who has travelled on the Kaiser Wilhelm or any of the others of the so-called palace steamers of the Rhine will for a moment compare them in point of speed to the Albany, the Vibbard or the Mary Powell. But still they are not happy — the people along the Hudson River. Fast steamers they know they possess, but they want to know which is the fastest. They want a steamboat race. Though many are supposed to be of Dutch extraction, and therefore presumed to be of that staid and sober temperament opposed to the pleasure of excitement, there is no doubt that a genuine steamboat race would be one of the greatest delights of their placid lives. Life in the Hudson River towns and villages is rather dull and news is scarce. There are a number of weekly papers in the Hudson River settlements which, whenever the news budget becomes slim, immediately reopen the favorite popular topic — i.e. the steamboat race. Anything on that subject is as sure to be read with the greatest avidity as the British government is sure to pay the interest on its consols. It stirs up a ripple of excitement in the whole region, is copied from one paper into another, and soon the banks of the Hudson, from Tarrytown to Albany, reverberates with the eager question, "When will it take place?" There is something very homelike and affectionate in the staunch adherence of the people to their favorite boat. As one of the captains expressed it the other day, travel on the Hudson boats seems like a "family affair." People get into the habit of riding on a certain boat, and go by it year after year unless, indeed, their boat allows itself to be "beaten" in too transparent a fashion. There is a great deal of room for "fine figuring" on the question of comparative speed, as no formal contest has yet taken place, and it is wonderful to hear with what accuracy and precision the friends of each boat will figure out by how many revolutions of the wheels and quarter lengths the one boat has the best of the other.
The Two Rivals.
The two great rivals just at present are the Albany, of the Albany day line, and the Mary Powell, running to Kingston, both guaranteed by their owners to "whip the universe" for velocity. Each boat has a host of friends who back the opinions of respective owners and captains with the most enthusiastic positiveness as to the vastly superior swiftness of the one against the other. That there has been no formal race — for, of course, every day that the boats are running they are trying to outdo each other — is a source of infinite disgust to those sanguine friends of the Mary Powell and the Albany. A number of times has the contest been projected, and immense excitement along the river has been the result from the moment the race has been on the tapis. Everyone, more or less, has been wanting to bet on the result from $10,000 down to a white hat. And after a ripple of excitement the fever of anticipation has subsided into keen disappointment when it has been ascertained that there would be no race after all, and that all bets were "off.” A few people have been found, to be sure, who have been old fashioned enough to declare that it was a very good thing that no race was to take place and that no one was to be blown up, but these were outvoted by a large majority and declared to be "old fogies." The man whose heart is bent on seeing a race, and particularly such a unique contest as a race between two great palace steamers, each noted for very remarkable speed, wouldn't mind a little playful diversion like that.
Is It to Take Place?
More recently, however, reports that a race was projected and was definitely to take place as soon as the busy season was over have assumed such a tangible shape that it was thought worth while to sift these rumors, and with this view, the captains of the two boats have been sounded, and the results of the interviews are here given. It will be soon seen that though both sides think there is no comparison to be made as to the speed of each other's steamers the matter of the race is still left somewhat dubious. The engineer of the Mary Powell remarks that should a race take place, a man who could charter all the available New York Central trains to follow the boats and charge $25 a seat (or $5 more than even the extortionate Patti is reported to expect in this American El Dorado) would make his fortune. But it requires no very lively imagination to picture to one's self the scene which such a race would call forth. The two steamers, followed by a perfect cloud of craft, from the biggest ferryboats to the smallest rowboat and trains and carriages and buggies and vehicles of every description lining the two shores and trying to keep up with the two gigantic racers for as long a time as possible. It was the universal opinion of all those whose views were sought on the question that more money would changes hands than probably at any horse race that has ever taken place in this country. It is certain that if the latest project again falls through there will be manifest disappointment, not only in betting quarters, but among many who are usually not interested either in racing or betting, but who would like to witness a trial of speed between the two steamers claiming to be the fastest in existence. And now the readers of the Herald will probably be interested to learn what the leaders of the rival hosts of steam boatmen may have to say on the subject.
Captain Anderson, of the Mary Powell.
Captain Anderson, of the Mary Powell, is a fine specimen of an old captain. He is a veteran in the service to which he has devoted over thirty years of his life. The Captain has a kindly shrewd face, but the most marked feature is an expression of predominant caution. There is a wary look out of his eyes, and his venerable gray mustache adds to this expression. One could very soon gather, even after a scant observation of the man, that however much the reputation of the Mary Powell might be dear to him, and though he would, no doubt, like to establish her superior speed as against that of the hated rival, he would still think more of the solid popular belief in her safety, which, he fears, might be endangered by such a devil-may-care proceeding as a race. When he spoke of the Mary Powell as being too much of a "family boat" for such a reckless procedure one could see that the proud glistening of his eyes, as he pronounced the words, spoke well for the safety of the lovely mothers and darling infants which are so numerously placed under his care on every trip. Of course, as will be seen later on in an interview with the Captain of the Albany, the latter sneers at this noble regard for the "family boat" feeling and pooh-poohs it, declaring that the Albany is just as much of a "family boat," and that he, nevertheless, would be perfectly willing to consent to a race. But, for all that, the "family" feeling will probably be on the side of Captain Anderson, and future generations will be grateful to him for not having exposed them in their present tender state of babyhood to the ignominy of having been conveyed up or down the river in what Captain Anderson gravely fears might be forever after dubbed a "racing boat."
How the Albany's Model Was Spoiled.
"What about the proposed race between your boat and the Albany?" the captain was asked.
"Well, I have heard a great deal about it," the good Captain replied with a smile.
"The weekly papers along the river have made a great outcry about it of late, but then they always do it when news gets scarce."
"Do I understand you, Captain, that it is only talk then, and that no race will be arranged?"
"Oh, I really can't tell you anything definite," the Captain replied. "All I can say is that the Mary Powell is not afraid."
"You think she is really the faster boat of the two, Captain?"
That word "really" seemed to be a little too much for the Mary Powell's commander.
"Why, I know she is," he replied in energetic tone; "the Mary Powell is the fastest boat in the world. She hasn't her equal anywhere."
"How about the Albany?"
"Well, the Albany is a good boat, too; but unfortunately she's ben spoiled. You see, her model is all wrong. She'd be a very fast boat and might catch up with the Mary Powell if she had not been built six feet too wide across. They ought to have modelled her after the Mary (this word the old Captain pronounced in a very affectionate tone) and then she would have been all right."
"What is the outlook for a race between the two boats, Captain?"
"Well, I have been pressed by a number of friends who travel by this boat to consent to a race, because they think they can make a pile of money out of it, and then they would like to see Captain Hitchcock's pretensions — you know, he's the captain of the Albany — silenced once for all."
Vast Sums to Be Bet.
"How much are they willing to bet?"
“Well, there is a certain party of capitalists who always travel by this boat who talk of putting up $50,000. Then there's another party wanting to bet $10,000. Oh, there's no lack of money," the Captain added with quite an exhilarated manner, being evidently warmed up by the subject.
"If the race comes off when is it likely to take place?"
"Oh, of course, it could only take place after the season, and then we'd take no passengers at all — that would be against the law."
"Would you consent to it, Captain?"
This was a "poser," but the Captain, after a little hesitation, said: — "Well, if my friends insist upon it perhaps I might, but then I'm opposed to it myself, and I'll tell you why. Not that there would be any doubt about our beating the Albany, there's another reason why I am opposed to it, and don't think I'd like to consent to it."
"And why is that's Captain?"
"Well, the Mary Powell, you know, is a family boat, and has always been a family boat. We carry in her all the time a great number of ladies and children, who go with us unattended. Why, they feel here as they would in their own homes. Every woman and child between New York and Kingston knows the Mary. Now, I would not like her to get the reputation of a racing boat. That is why I do not like to accommodate my friends who want me to race her against the Albany after the season."
The Albany's Faults Pronounced Hopeless.
“You have never had any actual contest, Captain?"
"No, except this. Everybody knows what time we make and that the Albany does not come anywhere near it. You ask anybody who has been travelling by the two boats and is not particularly friendly to either and they will tell you that. Well, last fall, after the season, the Albany, just to show what she could do, after all that had been said about the Mary Powell being such a superb boat, made a race against time up the river, and in the first nine miles up to Fort Washington she was five minutes behind the Mary's time."
"Hasn't she been doing better this season, Captain?"
"Why, no; she can't do any better unless they change her model and make her more like the Mary. Why, during that race against time her wheel made twenty-six and one-half revolutions to the minute to our twenty-five, and yet we go faster. That shows that there's something radically wrong with her."
"How fast are we going now, Captain?" was the final question asked, as the boat seemed to be under full headway and favored by tide and wind.
"About twenty-five miles an hour," the Captain proudly answered; “and that only with thirty pounds of steam, while we can carry fifty if we like. So you see what the result would be if we'd race with a boat like the Albany. Mind you, in whatever you say in the Herald, remember I have nothing to say against Captain Hitchcock or his boat; all I say is, that if he thinks he has as fast a boat as the Mary he is very much deceived; that's all."
What One of the Engineers Says.
One of the engineers of the Mary Powell was gently accosted; but he drew himself up, and in a serio-comic style, which would have done credit to an actor, said, "Well, now, we engineers have so often been misrepresented on this subject that, like other public men, we now decline to be interviewed." Presently, however, he became more communicative, and did not hesitate to give his views.
"Why," said he, "there can be no doubt as to which is the faster boat of the two. It takes the Albany three hours and twenty-five minutes to go to Newburg, and we make one landing more — Cornwall — and do it in three hours and twenty five minutes, beating her by five minutes. What do you think of that?"
An expression of high approval greeted this complacent query and drew out further interesting statements bearing on the question.
"Last fall, when she made her race against time, from Twenty-second street to Poughkeepsie, making the trip in 3h. 13m., she ran behind time fully 2 minutes. I'll show you how: — The Mary Powell left Twenty-second street at 3:34 and arrived in Poughkeepsie at 7:09, making the trip in 3h. 35m. Now, they only allowed us 2 minutes for every stop, but, as a matter of fact, it takes us 5, and counting only 4 minutes for each of the six stops, or 24 minutes in all, we did it in 3h 11m. and beat her by 2 minutes, didn't we? And then she carried forty-five pounds of steam and we carried only thirty-four, and they had her all cocked and primed for it, while we were not prepared in the least."
Why a Race Will Not Take Place.
"Do you think a race will take place?"
"Well, I don't know; I think it doubtful."
“For several reasons," and here the engineer smiled and his eye gave a merry twinkle.
"Just name one."
"Well, you see one of the boats would have to be behind, and that would be quite a damper on he business for the future. That's the principal reason."
"Do people, then, care so much whether the one boat reaches her destination a couple of minutes sooner than the other?"
"I should think they did! Why, this is our fast week, when we have the tide in or favor. Next week, when it is against us and we'll be five minutes later, a great many of the people riding with us this week will go up to their homes by the Central. This is a fast age.," the engineer added sententiously.
"Do you think that a race would create much excitement?"
"There never was anything like the excitement you'd see. The man who would charter all the trains in the New York Central to follow the boats and charge $25 a seat would still make his fortune. More money would change hands than at any race that has ever been held in this country. Why, it would be the greatest thing known!"
"By how much would you beat the Albany, do you think?"
"Oh, it's hard to say."
"Take a race to Poughkeepsie; would you beat her by fifteen minutes?"
“Oh, no; we'd do well to beat her by a few lengths. But, then, as I said before, I don't think you'll see a race. I know that if I had the two boats I wouldn’t consent to it. Now, each boat has her friends and is considered the fastest by them, while the race would put a damper on one of the two. And then you can't always tell what might be happening on a certain day. The water might not work well in the boiler or a journal might become hot; some mishap might happen and the reputation of the boat might be jeopardized, while she might really be the faster of the two."
Captain Hitchcock "Ready for ‘Em.”
"We're ready for 'em!" Captain Hitchcock, of the Albany, stoutly exclaimed when approached on the subject yesterday. The Captain is also a weather-beaten veteran, like his rival of the Mary Powell.
"I'm told your model has been tried and failed?" was the next query.
"Why, I know they told you that on the Mary Powell, and of course they did. They think there never was a model like hers."
"I'm also told you ought to have fashioned the Albany more after the model of the Mary Powell to have made a really fast boat of her."
"I'll never make the Albany like the Mary Powell, because then she'd be completely spoiled. Why, the man who made the Mary Powell's model told me that Captain Tallman, of the Daniel Drew, came to him and told him to spoil her, and that he cut her away so as really to have spoiled her; and Captain Anderson tells you that the Mary Powell is the better model? Well, that's rich, I must say."
“Captain, I am very much perplexed," the interviewer appealed, "by the conflicting statements I have heard about the two boats. Now tell me, please, which is which?"
“Why, there's no comparison. We had the Mary Powell some years ago, and if she had been such a superior boat don't you think we'd have kept her?"
"But since then it is claimed she has been remodelled."
"Remodelled? A few old rotten timbers taken put and a few new ones put in their places," the Captain responded, with an expression of unmistakable disgust stealing over his face. "I tell you just all there is about the Mary Powell. The Mary Powell is a wonderfully good boat when she's got a tide like a millrun and a regular gale of wind blowing in the right direction — then she'll make first rate time. But the Albany is the only boat in the world I ever saw that could make time against tide, wind or anything else, and always does make time!"
"But isn't your boat six feet too wide?"
"Oh, Captain Anderson told you that too, did ne? Why, if she was twelve feet wider than his boat she'd still be faster. I really wish the Albany were five or six feet wider than she is!"
The Money Behind the "Albany."
"The Mary Powell has a fifty thousand dollar pool behind her in case of a race, I'm told, Captain?"
"Fifty thousand dollars? We can go that better and triple it," was the contemptuous reply. "Does Captain Anderson tell you he's got a party willing to bet $50,000 that the Mary Powell beats us?"
"That's just it, Captain."
"Well, I don't believe it — unless these are men who travel with him and he's filled them up with good things and deceived them. Now, mind you, I have nothing against Captain Anderson or his boat — all I say is that if he thinks he has a faster boat he is a very much mistaken man."
"We won't stickle at a few thousands, Captain, but do you really think that considerable money would be bet on the Albany in case of a race with the Mary Powell?"
"Do I? Why, Joe Cornell, of the Citizens' Line, wants to take $20,000 right off, and John Chase, of the Hoboken Ferry, says to put him down for $10,000. Those are only two men. They'll get all the money they want — no trouble about that, my friend!"
"Would you consent to a race?"
"I'd like to see it. It's really the only way to settle the question," the Captain added, in a firm decided — almost bitter — tone. "If Captain Anderson thinks he has the faster boat, why the only way to settle it is to put the two boats together. It's the only way, and I'd like to see it done."
"What do you think the result would be?"
The Captain's answer was sharp and quick. "I don't think they'd go very far before they would go back," he replied, and he added vigorously. "I think they'd feel sick at their stomachs before they were out any long distance."
The Mary Powell Misproportioned.
"Why do you think so, Captain?"
"Why, the Mary Powell is all out of proportion. She wasn't made right. She was cut away too much, to begin with, and they she has a 72 cylinder, while her air pump, bed plate and condenser are made for only a 62 cylinder. Now, the Albany has a 73 cylinder and is proportioned for it throughout."
"What time are we making now, Captain?"
"About twenty miles an hour."
"Five miles less than the Mary Powell?"
"Did they tell you she was making twenty-five miles and hour? (In a tone of immense astonishment.) Well, well!"
"How much pressure do you use?"
Here the engineer, who had heard part of the conversation, broke in, saying, "Don't tell him how little we use, or we'll have to bet even, and they won't give us any odds!" At which hilarious sally both captain and engineer gave a gleeful chuckle."
"Captain Anderson says he would not like to let the Mary Powell race because she is a 'family boat?'"
"Well, and ain't we a family boat?" the Captain spoke up, warmly. "Ain't we as much of a family boat as they are? Why, just go down to the cabin and you won't be able to step over all the babies that are about. Haven't we as many women and babies on board as they have? Just look and see for yourself."
"Conceding that point, Captain, he also seems to be afraid that it might give the Mary Powell the reputation of a 'racing boat?'"
"That's all poppycock! Isn't she racing now every day as it is? She's got the reputation of a racing boat now, for they want to beat everybody else, and they say she can whip creation. I'll tell you what I'll do. If they don't want to bet I'll go for fun. Why, if she wins, it'll be the greatest feather in her cap, and I'll acknowledge the corn. (With a mock rueful air.) I'll tell you up and down than that I was a sadly, sadly deceived man."
"And in that case, Captain, would you model her after the Mary Powell?"
"Model the Albany after the Mary Powell? Do you think that's what I have been forty-nine years steamboating for? Not much!"
"But supposing you two were to come in bow and bow?"
"I'll guarantee against that. I'm not much of a betting man, but I'll bet $5,000 on that — myself!"
End of article, published August 5, 1881 in the New York Herald.
The Albany and the Mary Powell did eventually get their race. It was a short one, but considered a race nonetheless! On Wednesday, July 19, 1916, the Powell and the Albany were both headed south on the Hudson at approximately the same time. As the Mary Powell left the dock at Milton, the Albany was just a few minutes behind, and put on a burst of speed in an effort to past. The two boats went full steam ahead for Poughkeepsie, but the Mary Powell was the victor.
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Editor’s Note: The following text is a verbatim transcription of an article featuring stories by Captain William O. Benson (1911-1986). Beginning in 1971, Benson, a retired tugboat captain, reminisced about his 40 years on the Hudson River in a regular column for the Kingston (NY) Freeman’s Sunday Tempo magazine. Captain Benson's articles were compiled and transcribed by HRMM volunteers Carl and Joan Mayer. See more of Captain Benson’s articles here. This article was originally published April 23, 1972.
In the early spring of 1934, I was on the tugboat Lion of the Cornell Steamboat Company. We were going up through Haverstraw Bay with a large up river tow. The tug Edwin Terry was our helper.
It was about 9 a.m. and I was off watch and fast asleep in my bunk, when Dan Reilly, the deckhand, came to my room and called me, saying “Hey, Bill, I thought you would want to get up and see your old pal coming down the river.
I jumped up as quickly as I could and there just below Stony Point, I could see the old Day Liner Albany paddling her way down river for the last time. She had been sold and was leaving the Hudson forever. The Albany was the first steamboat I had ever worked on, beginning as a deckhand during the seasons of 1928 and 1929.
An April Day
It was the kind of spring day that made one glad he was alive. There was a light breeze from the south with the bright April sun shimmering on the water. How wide the Albany looked as she approached us with her broad overhanging guards! I could see her paddle wheels turning under the guards, and the buckets dipping slowly in the water as she reduced speed to pass our tow and reduce the size of the waves.
As she neared us with her large silver walking beam rhythmically going up and down, up and down, up and down as if reaching out ahead all the time, and her big white paddle wheels turning slowly, she was indeed a sight to behold.
But little did the old girl know she was leaving her beloved Hudson River for the last time to sail on another river to the south under another name.
When she was almost next to us, I gave the Albany the one long, one short whistle signal – a pilot’s way of saying hello. She answered with one long and two short blasts on her whistle. Joe Eigo of Port Ewen, the captain of the Terry, did the same – and the Albany also answered him.
The Last Goodbye
I hollered over to Joe Eigo, the Terry being abreast of us on a head line and also pulling on the tow, “Give her the goodbye, will you Joe, because I want to give her the last goodbye.” Joe answered, “Sure, Bill,” and really pulled down hard on the Terry’s steam whistle with three long blasts, which the Albany answered.
By this time, the Albany was down abreast of the tow. Then with the Lion’s heavy bass horn, I blew three very long whistles to say farewell. The Albany answered with three equally long blasts on the whistle. I can still see the white steam from her whistle ascending skyward in the bright sunlight of that April morning. I knew this would be the last time I would ever hear that old familiar whistle.
I watched her as she went further and further down river, around Rockland Lake, and finally out of sight. At the time, I was sure I would never see her again… and I never did.
There is something that reaches far into a man who once worked on a steamboat of the past, particularly when he comes into contact with the first boat on which he worked.
From the Shore
If, for example, he should decide to take a job ashore – and if one of the early boats he worked should happen to go by, he will always watch her with fond nostalgia until she disappears from view. And many memories and thoughts pass through his mind.
That’s the way it was with me that day I saw the Albany go by for the last time. I thought of all the old crew members, all the passengers I had seen on board her – sometimes as many as 3,000, all the landings we had made up and down the river for the last time, leaving behind forever her old winter berth at Sleightsburgh, her recent lay up dock at Athens, and the landings she knew so well for so long.
Henry Briggs of Kingston had been the Albany’s last captain. On her last trip down the Hudson, however, Captain Briggs was in Florida, so Captain Alonzo Sickles of the Hendrick Hudson, also of Kingston, took her to New York. Alexander Hickey was pilot, Charles Maines of Kingston was mate and Charles Requa was chief engineer on her final trip.
The Albany had originally been built in 1880 and, until the coming of the Hendrick Hudson in 1906, ran regularly on the New York to Albany run. From 1907 until the Washington Irving came out in 1913, the Albany was used almost exclusively on the New York to Poughkeepsie route. Then, she replaced the Mary Powell on the Rondout to New York run and covered this service until it was ended in September 1917. During the 1920’s, except on weekends, the Albany was used almost entirely for charters or as an extra boat.
Last Year on Hudson
The season of 1930 was to be the last regular season in service for the Albany on the Hudson River. At that time she had been an active member of the Day Line fleet for 51 seasons, a record that was not to be exceeded by any other Day Line. In September, she went into winter lay up as usual at the Sunflower Dock at Sleightsburgh. However, with the deepening of the Great Depression, it was decided not to put her in operation in 1931, and – in May of that year – the tugboat S. L. Crosby of the Cornell Steamboat Company towed her from Sleightsburgh to Athens to a more permanent lay up berth. I was a deckhand on the Crosby when we towed her on her last up river trip.
In 1933 the Hudson River Day Line went into receivership – and on March 6, 1934 – the Albany was sold at public auction. She was purchased by B. B. Wills of Baltimore for only $25,000 and he planned to place her in service on the Potomac River running out of Washington, D.C. When I saw her on that April day in 1934, the Albany was on her way to her new life in the south. She was renamed Potomac and continued in operation out of Washington until the end of the season of 1948. She was then dismantled and her hull converted into a barge named Ware River.
The old Albany was always a fast steamboat and, even in her last years on the Hudson River, she could still show her speed to much newer steamboats. As the Potomac in her new service in the south, she still took smoke from no other steamboat.
Captain William Odell Benson was a life-long resident of Sleightsburgh, N.Y., where he was born on March 17, 1911, the son of the late Albert and Ida Olson Benson. He served as captain of Callanan Company tugs including Peter Callanan, and Callanan No. 1 and was an early member of the Hudson River Maritime Museum. He retained, and shared, lifelong memories of incidents and anecdotes along the Hudson River.
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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. See more of Murdock's articles in "Steamboat Biographies". See more Sunday News here.
No. 25- Albany - 1820s
The first steamboat on the Hudson river named the “Albany” was built in 1826 at Philadelphia by J. Vaughan for James A. Stevens to run on the New York and Albany route in line with the “New Philadelphia”. She arrived at New York from Philadelphia on April 8, 1827, and began her regular schedule on April 11.
However the first trip did not bring her to Albany as she broke several of her paddles after proceeding a few miles up the Hudson and was compelled to return to New York. Repairs were made, and Sunday, April 15, she set sail on her first regular trip under the command of J.G. Jenkins.
The owners of the “Albany”, the Messrs. Stevens of Hoboken, had spared no expense in an endeavor to make the new craft one of the finest on the river, even to having the panels in the cabins decorated with pictures by some of the finest artists in the country. But with all their preparations, the “Albany” did not turn out to be the fast vessel that had been expected.
Alterations were made to the “Albany” in an endeavor to make her into a better running vessel. Her original 147-foot hull was lengthened to 207 feet by the addition of another bow and stern. These changes had the desired effect and the “Albany” could then hold her own with the more up-to-date steamboats then appearing on the river. In 1839 the “Albany” was again lengthened to 287 feet and was widened two feet. With a sharper bow and finer lines aft, she made better time between New York and Albany. On September 25, 1840, she made the run in eight hours and 33 minutes as compared with her first record in 1827 of over 12 hours. The “Albany” served for a few more years, sailing up and down the Hudson river, and was finally worn out and broken up.
No. 28- Albany - 1880 to 1930s
The “Albany” was built for the Hudson River Dayline in 1880 and was the first iron steamboat constructed for the Hudson river travel since the building of the “Iron Witch” in 1846, later called the “Erie.” The new craft supplanted the “Daniel Drew” and made her first regular trip from New York to Albany on July 2, 1880. The 300 foot vessel was much admired for her graceful proportions, and when she is moving through the water at her regular speed, she causes but little commotion, and shows great stability when heavily loaded with passengers.
For the first time in the history of river steamboats, three boilers and three smokestacks were placed side by side instead of one behind the other, a deviation which gave the boat a very different appearance from the usual style. Other alterations were made from time to time until the present boat is a far cry from the original built in 1880.
The “Albany” made a fast trip on October 22, 1884, leaving New York and arriving at Poughkeepsie in three hours and 20 minutes. For 25 years the “Albany” ran on the schedule of the Dayline with her consorts the “Chauncey Vibbard” and “New York.” In 1906 the “Hendrick Hudson” joined the fleet and the “Albany” was made into a special boat plying between New York and Poughkeepsie on one round trip per day. She continued on this run until 1913 when the Washington Irving made her first appearance on the waters of the Hudson. At this time the “Robert Fulton”, which had also been running to Albany with the “Hendrick Hudson”, was placed on the Poughkeepsie route.
At this time the famous “Mary Powell” was beginning to show signs of wear and so the “Albany” was put on the Rondout-New York route, making her first trip from Rondout on Monday, July 7, 1913, and continuing on this route until 1917. In 1918 she was chartered out for excursions and also made a special trip to Albany each Saturday. The Albany was sold in 1935 and now [in the 1930s] plies the Potomac river as an excursion boat running out of the nation’s capitol.
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.
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