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.
No. 32- Escort
The “Escort” was built at Mystic Bridge, Conn., in 1863, and was 185 feet long, carrying a gross tonnage of 675 and a net tonnage of 500. She was propelled by a vertical beam engine.
Built for service in the east, the “Escort” sailed the waters of the Connecticut river and Long Island Sound and was then chartered to the government in the Quartermaster’s Department during the Civil War. At the close of the war she was brought north again and used in eastern waters until 1873.
The “Escort” was then purchased by Catskill people and put in service on the Catskill and New York night line.
In 1883 the “Escort” was rebuilt and her name was changed to the “Catskill”. She ran in line with the “Kaaterskill” and “Walter Brett”.
On September 22, 1897, the “Catskill was rammed and sunk off West 57th street, New York, about seven o’clock in the evening by the steamer “St. Johns”, owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey. There were 46 passengers aboard the “Catskill” and all escaped except a five-year-old boy, Bertie Timmerman of Leeds, who was drowned. At the time of the accident, the “Catskill” had an unusually heavy cargo of freight aboard for her north-bound trip. The usual signal whistles were blown but there was evidently a misunderstanding and the two vessels came together with a crash that could be heard for some distance along the waterfront. The excursion steamboat struck the “Catskill” on the starboard side about 30 feet aft of the bow and tore a great hole in her side, the whole depth of her guards and freeboard and way below the waterline. Captain Braisted of the “St. Johns”, seeing that the damage to the “Catskill” was serious and that the vessel would sink, blew his whistle for aid and a passing steamer and some tugs rushed to the assistance of the “Catskill” and took off the passengers.
The “Catskill” was raised and rebuilt, being lengthened from 185 to 226 feet two inches, and her tonnage was increased from 675 gross tons to 816 gross tons. Her name was then changed to the “City of Hudson”, and when she made her appearance she gave the impression of an entirely new vessel. The “City of Hudson” continued running on the Catskill line until the fall of 1910, when she was laid up at Newburgh, having outlived her usefulness. She was purchased by Charles E. Bishop of Rondout and Abram W. Powell of Port Ewen in October, 1911, and taken to Port Ewen, where she was dismantled, her engine and boiler being junked and her woodwork used for fuel in burning brick on a brickyard.
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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