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. 4- The Knickerbocker
The 291 foot “Knickerbocker” was a wooden-hull steamer built in 1843 by Smith and Dimon of New York, with her engine made by the West Point Foundry, and originally used in the “DeWitt Clinton.” Daniel Drew, Isaac Newton, and others of the People’s Line, were the owners of the “Knickerbocker” which was considered a very staunch and beautiful craft, plying the waters of the Hudson until 1846 when her owners sent her to the Stonington Line. She saw service on the Long Island Sound line for a number of years and was partially rebuilt for this work, being widened three feet forward of the wheels which were set back into pockets, thus making added stateroom accommodations.
Once again the “Knickerbocker” returned to the Hudson river, meeting with various mishaps during her service. On September 1, 1856, the Knickerbocker” sailed from Albany, bound for New York, with 300 passengers and a quantity of freight and livestock aboard. Enroute down the river, the vessel hit a rock, displacing her boiler which caused the vessel to list to the larboard as the cargo and boiler rolled to one side of the craft. The pilot saw the danger and turned the vessel’s bow towards Fort Montgomery creek, three miles north of Peekskill, with the intentions of backing the stricken vessel into shallow water. The steamboat “Niagara” of the opposition line passed by while the “Knickerbocker” was in distress but disregarded all signals for assistance and plowed her way on up the river. The little steamer “Machanic” came to the aid of the “Knickerbocker” and took off 150 of the passengers, with the rest being rescued in small boats and taken to Peekskill.
The rescued passengers on board the “Machanic” held a prayer and praise meeting at midnight to give thanks for their deliverance, and then they made up a purse of almost a thousand dollars which they presented to Captain Coe of the “Machanic.”
The “Knickerbocker” drifted about with the tide and then sank. She was raised and repaired, and then saw service running in line with the “Hero” of the Merchants Through Line.
In 1859 the “Knickerbocker” ran down and sank the sloop “Stephen Raymond” near Hastings. This collision came at night and the entire crew of the sloop perished.
During the year 1862 the “Knickerbocker” plied the route between Rondout and New York, taking the place of the steamboat “Manhattan” until the new steamboat “Thomas Cornell” came into existence. This was the last of the “Knickerbocker” in this territory as she was then taken south and used for a troop transport, and later was wrecked on Chesapeake Bay.
THE ACCIDENT ON THE HUDSON RIVER -- CORRECTION.
There was an error in the report of the collision which occurred on the Hudson river on Monday evening, near Hastings. The steamer which sunk the sloop Stephen Raymond was not the North America, as was supposed, but the Knickerbocker, of the Merchants’ line, and there was only one man drowned instead of three, as reported. Captain Nelson, of the Knickerbocker, says the accident occurred by the sloop changing her course and luffing across the steamer’s bow when too near to prevent a collision. Two persons (Germans) [Editor's Note: Peter Dazel and William Hagan] climbed over the steamer’s bow as the sloop went down. The man at the wheel, named Conklin, could not be found. The two persons rescued proceeded with the steamer to Albany and returned on her yesterday to this city.
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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