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. 86- Shady Side
Little is known of the steamboat “Shady Side” in this section of the Hudson Valley, as the territory she served on the Hudson river was within short distances of New York city.
The wooden hull “Shady Side” was built at Bulls Ferry, New Jersey, in 1873 and she was powered by-an engine produced by Fletcher, Harrison and Company of New York. Her dimensions were listed as: Length of hull, 168 feet, one inch; breadth of beam, 27 feet, five inches; depth of hull, nine feet, five inches; gross tonnage, 444, net tonnage 329. Her engine was the vertical beam type with a cylinder diameter of 44 inches and an eight foot stroke.
The “Shady Side” was a remarkably swift and handsome steamboat of medium size. She was built for the New York and Fort Lee passenger day line, running in line with the steamboat “Pleasant Valley.” Later she was purchased by the Morrisania Steamboat Company and in 1874 she was running in line with the steamboats “Morrisania” and “Harlem between Morrisania and New York. This line was in competition with the regular Harlem boats, “Sylvan Dell,” “Sylvan Stream,” and “Sylvan Glen,” which were in service until 1879 when the elevated railroad system in New York city began to make inroads into the steamboat passenger business and finally forced the steamboats to cease operation- being sold in 1881 under the foreclosure of mortgage. The “Shady Side” was then used in and around New York harbor until 1902 when she was placed in service on the New York-Stamford, Connecticut route.
The “Harlem” and “Morrisania” were also used in New York harbor, chartered to excursion parties, and saw service on short routes from the metropolis. In the spring of 1895 the “Morrisania” was taken to Hoboken to have some repairs made. While there she caught fire and her joiner works were damaged to such an extent that it was decided not to rebuild the vessel. Her hull was then taken to Harlem and converted into a coal barge. The “Harlem,” the other vessel which ran in line with the “Shady Side” for the Morrisania Company, was sold in 1903 to a Boston concern and placed in service in Boston Harbor where she was destroyed by fire about a year later.
The “Shady Side” ran on the Stamford route until 1921. Later she was sold to Marcus Garvey of the Black Star Steamship Line, who used her for excursions until the fall of 1922 when she was completely worn out. The “Shady Side” was then taken to Fort Lee on the west side of the Hudson River and beached on the mud flats- a short distance from where she had been launched a half-century before. Here she slowly decayed, the last of the great fleet of fast steamboats which ran between Harlem and New York until the elevated railroad forced the steamboats to cease operation.
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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