Today's Featured Artifact is a fan favorite - it's the biggest artifact in our collection, and one of the few housed outdoors. It's the 1898 steam tugboat Mathilda!
And yes, she really is an artifact! She even has her own accession number - 1983.34.1, donated by the McAllister Towing Company. Accession numbers are how museums keep track of their collections. Each number is unique to an object and the number itself tells part of the story. For Mathilda, she was the 34th donation received in 1983, and the first item in the collection.
The 1898 steam tugboat Mathilda was built in Sorel, Quebec, and for many years worked on the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. Originally, coal fueled her steam boilers. Later her engine was changed to an oil-fired, two-cylinder reciprocating unit.
McAllister Towing bought the Mathilda and brought her to New York Harbor after using her in Montreal berthing ships. 1969 was her last year of active service. In 1970 McAllister donated Mathilda to South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan.
In January, 1976 the Mathilda sank at her pier at the Seaport. She was raised by the Century floating crane. Since the Seaport could not afford the needed repair work, Mathilda was moved to the former Cunard Line Pier 94 for dry storage.
In 1983 McAllister Towing donated the Mathilda to the Hudson River Maritime Museum, and sent her to her new home on the Rondout on the deck of the Century crane barge which placed her in the yard of the Museum.
In recent years the Mathilda has been permanently stabilized and her appearance restored with authentic McAllister paints supplied by the company. Her deck lighting has been restored and enhanced. Her interior has been cleaned out, and a window opened for viewing her engines, which are lit at night.
As one of the last tugs in existence with her original steam engine, the Mathilda is a proud survivor of the type of tugs which served on the Hudson and elsewhere for nearly 100 years.
You can visit Mathilda any time at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Stop by and say hello!
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This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
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