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. See more of Murdock's articles in "Steamboat Biographies".
No. 174- Berkshire
The tale of the steamboat “Berkshire” is yet uncompleted as the vessel is still in existence, but for the past two seasons she has not been in service, and it is doubtful as to whether she will ever again ply the waters of the Hudson river.
The steel hull of the “Berkshire” was built by the New York Shipbuilding Company of Camden, New Jersey, in 1907, and her engine was the product of W. & A. Fletcher Company of Hoboken, New Jersey. The dimensions of the vessel are listed as follows: Length of keel, 422 feet; overall length, 440 feet; breadth of beam, 50 feet six inches; over guards 90 feet; depth of hold 12 feet nine inches. The gross tonnage of the “Berkshire” is listed at 4300, with net tonnage at 2918. Her engine is the vertical beam type with a diameter cylinder measuring 84 inches with a 12 foot stroke.
The launching of the steamboat known to the Hudson river as the “Berkshire” occurred in September, 1907, with the name “Princeton” appearing instead of “Berkshire.” The vessel was originally built for service between New York and Albany under the banner of the People’s Line, but for some reason was not completed after she was launched. For almost six years the uncompleted steamboat lay off Turkey Point on the Hudson river, and finally in 1913 construction was completed and the “Berkshire” began her career on the Hudson river.
The People’s Line was always known to travelers of the river for its up-to-the-minute steamboats. Their vessels were the last word in steamboat construction with comfortable accommodations and luxurious furnishings- and the “Berkshire” was no exception. If there was anything lacking in the make-up of the “Berkshire” that would add to the safety and comfort of the passengers or the beauty and stability of the craft, it had not yet been invented or discovered.
In 1913 the “Berkshire” entered service, running on the Albany route in line with the “C.W. Morse,” and taking the place of the steamboat “Adirondack.” The latter vessel was laid up as a spare boat. With accommodations for 2,000 passengers and an average speed of 18 miles per hour under ordinary conditions, which could be increased to 20 miles per hour if necessary, the “Berkshire” son proved to be a popular vessel with river travelers. She boasted passenger elevators, a palm room, café and smoking room on the upper deck, richly furnished salons, and other modern features of river travel.
The “Berkshire” and the “Fort Orange,” formerly the “C.W. Morse,” were in regular service as night boats running to Albany in 1927. The “Berkshire” continued on the Hudson river until 1937- running in line with the “Trojan” during that season; and then she was laid up at Athens, where she has remained without turning a wheel for the past two seasons. Whether or not the “Berkshire” will again appear in regular service is unknown, but with the decline in river travel, followers of the steamboats are inclined to believe that the next trip of the “Berkshire” will be her last- to the scrap heap.
In 1941 the U.S. Government took an option on the “Berkshire.” She was towed to Hoboken, New Jersey on January 31, 1941. On June 25, 1941, “Berkshire” was towed to Bermuda to be used there as quarters. After the war she was broken up in Philadelphia.
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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