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. 27- M. Martin
Built in 1863 at Jersey City for the Catskill and Albany day route, the 191 foot “M. Martin” was considered at that time one of the most handsome boats of her type ever to appear on the Hudson river. And the “M. Martin” has a historic background second to none of the vessels ever to ply the Hudson.
Because she was constructed in 1863, shortly after the Civil War broke out, the “M. Martin” was pressed into service under General Grant, and during the latter part of the war she was used as General Grant’s dispatch boat on Chesapeake Bay, carrying troops and messages across the bay and river. The “M. Martin” was known as the “greyhound” of the fleet of inland steamers that served the federal government during the war, and after the fall of Richmond, President Abraham Lincoln and General Grant made a visit to the Confederate Capital aboard the “M. Martin.”
At the close of the war the “M. Martin” was brought north and purchased by Romer & Tremper of Rondout who placed her in service on the Newburgh and Albany route, running in line with the “Eagle.” These two boats ran together until August 2, 1884, when the “Eagle” was destroyed by fire and the “Jacob H. Tremper” was built to take her place.
In 1899, the “Martin” was sold to the Central Hudson Steamboat Company of Newburgh, and served that company many years. She was an exceptionally fine performing vessel in the ice and was thus one of the first out in the spring and the last boat in at the close of navigation in the fall.
On Thursday, June 16, 1910, laden with freight and about 20 passengers, the “M. Martin,” southbound from Albany to Newburgh, caught fire and was beached near Esopus Island on the east shore of the Hudson, where all passengers were taken off in small boats. Captain George Hadley first noticed smoke curling from the pilot’s cabin in increasing volume, so he beached the vessel, saw that the passengers were safely taken off, and then got the “Martin’s” firefighting apparatus working playing streams of water on the flames. It was a matter or about 10 minutes for the water to quench the flames, and with only a scorched pilot house to record her experience, the “M. Martin” proceeded on to Newburgh.
After repairs had been made, the “M. Martin” resumed service, running until the fall of 1918, when she was laid up. Then in the summer of 1920, the work of junking the “M. Martin” began. Everything of value was removed from a vessel that had once conveyed a President of the United States, and the hull was purchased by Patrick Doherty to use for dock purposes at Eavesport, a small landing near Malden on the Hudson.
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.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to support more history blog content, please make a donation to the Hudson River Maritime Museum or become a member today!
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.
Become a member and receive benefits like unlimited free museum admission, discounts on classes, programs, and in the museum store, plus invitations to members-only events.
The Hudson River Maritime Museum receives no federal, state, or municipal funding except through competitive, project-based grants. Your donation helps support our mission of education and preservation.