Description accompanying print: The original painting, by noted artist, John Gould, might well be called an inspired masterpiece. It was developed with help for accuracy from the well known expert, retired captain William O. Benson of Sleightsburgh, N.Y. He is an authority on the Hudson River History, its boats and shipping. Learn more about John Gould (1906-1996) here: https://johngouldart.com/about/
The maiden voyage of the "Alexander Hamilton" was placed by the artist for this painting, passing Rondout Creek, Kingston, N.Y. The area with the two Kingston Lighthouses makes an important historical background for this great documentary painting.
The maiden voyage suggests a wedding procession with the gleaming white boat, the accompanying flotilla and the sparkling reflection of the sun on the water, resembling wedding confetti.
[Editor's note: 2023 season lighthouse tours and Solaris solar powered boat rides are offered by HRMM here: https://www.hrmm.org/all-boat-tours.html]
The ALEXANDER HAMILTON'S First Trip
The following is a brief description of the event by Captain William O. Benson: On the 29th of May, 1924, the Hudson River Day Line steamer ALEXANDER HAMILTON made her first voyage on the great Hudson River from New York City to the State Capital at Albany.
I was a student in the old District No. 13 School at Port Ewen, and we had been told the HAMILTON was making her first trip up river. I was wishing she would be late, so I could rush out at 3:30 p.m. and run to the sand bank at Sleightsburgh and watch her come up. I will admit all day in school my mind was on the new HAMILTON and sure enough when school was dismissed I guess I was the first out and on my way to the sand bank.
I could see the new flyer coming up off Schleede's brick yard south of Port Ewen. She was about an hour late due to some problem with her new engine, I guess due to the fact she was new.
As she was passing the Rondout Lighthouse, the steamer JACOB H. TREMPER was just coming out of Rondout Creek. When the HAMILTON blew her landing whistle for Kingston Point of one long, one short and one long, how the sea gulls and egrets rose high in the air. The Lighthouse keeper rang the fog bell three times and the ferry TRANSPORT, just inside of the Lighthouse, blew three whistles in salute which the HAMILTON answered. Also on the starboard side of the HAMILTON, out in the river, was Cornell Steamboat Company tug HARRY blowing her chime whistle. It sure was great to stand and watch a new sidewheeler being greeted by other much older steamboats from another age.
She was all decorated out with American flags and signal colors for her first trip up the river.
She was faithful to the old Hudson for 47 long years, carrying many happy people up and down and to the pleasure parks along the beautiful Hudson River.
More about Port Ewen brickyards:
At the end of his school day in Port Ewen, William O. Benson ran to the Sleightsburg shore and spotted the ALEXANDER HAMILTON coming up off Schleede's brickyard south of Port Ewen. The tall brick stack in the painting might have been remnants of one of the Port Ewen Brickyards, Turner or Jacob Kline/Bishop. The chute was probably used to load bricks or ice blocks onto barges for transport to New York City.
In 1852, Jacob Kline, became cashier for the Pennsylvania Coal Co., and John Ewen (namesake of Port Ewen) became President. From then until 1865, Port Ewen thrived as a terminal for Honesdale, PA coal which came on Delaware & Hudson canal boats and was transferred to barges going to New York City on the Hudson River.
However, after litigation between the D&H and Pennsylvania Coal companies, the latter moved to Newburgh in 1865 leaving many Irish canal workers who lived on that Port Ewen hill unemployed. Jacob Kline built a brickyard which employed these workers and saved Port Ewen from economic collapse. Tugs were named after Kline's daughters.
John D. Schoonmaker of Kingston had a large 23,000 ton ice house erected, helping employment in the winter when the river was frozen. Ice was harvested from Turner's pond on the Port Ewen hill and stored in the icehouse.
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