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. 60- C.W. Morse
The 427 foot “C.W. Morse” was built in 1903 for the People’s Line of Albany, and was the first of the steamboats to be constructed with a steel hull. She was one of the most luxurious steamers built for Hudson river travel up to that time and was constructed to run in line with the magnificent “Adirondack” which had set a standard for excellent steamboat accommodations. The “C.W. Morse” had no less than 450 staterooms exclusive of those used by the officers.
The travelers first impression of the “C.W. Morse” was gained upon entrance into the magnificently proportioned and richly finished lobby or reception hall. On one side a beautiful mahogany stairway led up to the salon. From the vantage point of this stairway one could get a fine view of the lobby, brilliant in its gilded arched ceiling and exquisite mural decorations, and the dining saloon, a regal apartment with large windows closely set with an average breadth of 58 feet and with a seating capacity of 300 people. In addition to this main salon there were two handsomely furnished private dining rooms with richly carved mahogany woodwork and the ceiling decorated in gold and white and illuminated by 250 electric bulbs held in bronze-green fixtures.
There were a number of deluxe cabins whose walls were hung in silk and cotton of pleasing pinks, blues, and greens, and ceilings done in ivory and gold. These cabins were richly furnished with double beds, and had private baths and the arrangements were such that the cabins could be taken separately or in a suite.
The decks of the “C.W. Morse” were of unusual width and the upper deck permitted an unobstructed promenade around the entire steamer. Aft upon this upper deck was the large Palm Garden with the café adjoining it.
The “C.W. Morse” was equipped with electric thermostatic push buttons, fire alarms, automatic whistles, watchmen’s clock, telephones for special service, and where auxiliaries were not run by steam, electric motors were used. Two complete and separate systems of steering gear were used- steam driven and hand-driven.
A regular floating palace- that was the term that describes the “C.W. Morse.” The People’s Line had omitted nothing in her construction or equipment which made for safety or comfort, and no detail of luxury had been slighted.
In the fall of 1917 the “C.W. Morse” was acquired by the Federal Government and taken to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where she was used for housing navy recruits. At the close of the war she was returned to her old New York-Albany run. In 1923 she was renamed the “Fort Orange” and continued in regular service until 1927 when she was laid up at Athens and was used only occasionally after that. In the summer of 1935, after having been gradually stripped of her furnishings for use on other boats, she was taken to New Haven, Conn., and partially broken up. The hull was taken intact to Bridgeport, Conn., where it was installed as a breakwater at the entrance to the harbor.
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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