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 at right
No. 11- ALIDA
The “Alida,” 265 feet in length, was built as a dayboat for the Hudson river traffic, and commenced her regular trips on April 16, 1847 between New York and Albany. During her career as a passenger carrier, she was always a favorite with the traveling public.
The speed of the “Alida” was over 20 miles an hour, and her best time between the two termini of her regular route was made on May 6, 1848, when a trip including seven landings was made in eight hours and 18 minutes.
She continued in service on the Albany route for a few years and then was put on regular schedule from Rondout to New York, making a round trip each day. Eventually she was again placed on the entire run between Albany and New York.
In November, 1855, Alfred Van Santvoord purchased the “Alida,” and the following season he ran her the entire distance of the river with the steamboat “Armenia” as a consort. The new owner, better known as Commodore Van Santvoord had long been identified with river freight and towing business but had not been previously interested in the passenger carrying line. The “Alida” was his first venture into this department of river travel. Later, in the year 1860, he launched the “Daniel Drew,” and then began to use the “Alida” as a passenger boat between Poughkeepsie and New York, making a round trip daily.
This venture into the passenger carrying business must have appeared to the Commodore as being quite successful, because in the year 1863, he associated himself with several other rivermen, added the “Armenia” to his fleet which now numbered three boats- the “Alida,” “Daniel Drew” and the "Armenia"- and so laid the foundations of the Albany Dayline which is now known as the Hudson River Dayline.
The “Alida” was eventually converted into a towboat, and in the late sixties, when the Commodore vacated his position in the towing business, he sold the “Alida” to Robinson & Betts Towing Company of Troy. The converted towboat operated for this firm between Troy and New York until 1874 when the firm itself ceased operation, and the “Alida” was purchased by Thomas Cornell of Rondout in the winter of 1875.
The “Alida” only made one trip for the Cornell line, that in December of 1875. On the first of that month, the passenger boat “Sunnyside” was sunk at West Park, and it was decided to use the engine of the “Alida” in a new boat. The “Alida” was towed to New York by the “Norwich,” but her engine was found to be too small for the designed boat so she was hauled back to Port Ewen and laid up there until the summer of 1880 when she was bought by Daniel Bigler and broken up off Port Ewen.
[Editor's Note: The tow cabin from the "Alida" is on the campus of the Hudson River Maritime Museum.]
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.
This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
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