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.
The steamboat “Sleepy Hollow” was built for an enterprise which was first thought of in the year 1865, was put in operation the following year, and continued until July, 1867, when the instigators were finally convinced that their brain child was a bit unprofitable.
In 1865 a lower Hudson steamboat company was organized by residents living in the river valley between New York and Sing Sing, and in October of that year contracts were let for the construction of two side-wheel steamboats to serve the landings on the east side of the river above Yonkers and as far north as Sing Sing. The names of the two steamboats were the “Sleepy Hollow” and the “Sunnyside.”
The wooden hull of the “Sleepy Hollow” was built by Lawrence & Foulks at Greenpoint, New York, in 1864, and in the spring of that year the new steamboat company began operations- making landings at Yonkers, Irvington, and Tarrytown, with one of the vessels, and covering the same route but extending to Grassy Point, with the other craft.
The “Sleepy Hollow” was 248 feet long, breadth of beam 35 feet; depth of hold 9 feet. Her gross tonnage was 745, net tonnage, 647, and she was powered with a vertical beam engine with cylinder diameter of 56 inches with a 12 foot stroke, built by T.F. Secor & Company of New York.
The new enterprise was launched in opposition to the Nyack Line, running for less than two years. In July, 1867, the “Sunnyside” was taken off the route and placed in service between New York, Newburgh and West Point. The “Sleep Hollow” continued on the original run for the balance of the season, and when the river season closed in the fall, the new line ceased operations.
The two vessels are then taken to Highland and laid up, and in July, 1870, Joseph Cornell and Captain Black of Catskill purchased the “Sunnyside” at auction for $45,000 and placed her in service on the Coxsackie route. Two years later the “Sunnyside was put on the route between Troy and New York, where she ended her days in 1875.
In 1870 Fish and Gould made arrangements with the New Jersey Southern Railroad Company for the transfer of the railroad’s freight and passengers from Sandy Hook to New York. The “Sleepy Hollow,” under the name of the “Long Branch,” was then placed in service on this route, running in line with the steamboats “Plymouth Rock,” “Metropolis” and “Jesse Hoyt” for a bit over three ‘years. Mr. Fisk, one of the owners of this line, died and the line was abandoned, and the “Long Branch” was used as an excursion vessel around New York Harbor. During the season of 1877-1878, the former steamboat “Sleepy Hollow” ran in excursion service between New York and Iona Island on the Hudson river, and until the year 1892 the “Long Branch” was a familiar sight on the various river excursion trips.
In 1892, the “Long Branch was sold to J.H. Gregory, who broke her up at Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
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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