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. 92- “New York”
Many of the homes of this area contain a picture of a large steamboat- a colored picture showing a magnificent white passenger vessel against the background of a green towering mountain. This picture shows the steamboat “New York,” one of the vessels of the celebrated Hudson River Dayline, whose career was cut short after 21 years of service by a fire which burned her to the water’s edge.
The steel hull of the “New York” was built by Harlan & Hollingsworth at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1887. W. & A. Fletcher Company (North River Iron Works), of Hoboken, New Jersey, built her engine. Her hull was 301 feet long with an overall length of 311 feet, a breadth of beam of 40 feet 4 inches which widened to 74 feet over the guards, depth of hold measuring 11 feet 2 inches. Her gross tonnage was listed at 1,552 with a net tonnage rating of 1,091. The vertical beam engine of the “New York” had a cylinder diameter of 75 inches with a 12 foot stroke, and she carried three 33 foot boilers with a shell diameter 9¼ feet and front width measuring 11 feet. Her wheels, of the feathering type, were constructed of steel with 12 buckets measuring 12½ feet long by 3 feet 9 inches in width. In 1897 the “New York” was lengthened, 34 feet being added to the length of her hull making her 335 feet long and increasing her tonnage rating to 1,921 gross and 1,751 net tons.
The “New York” replaced the steamboat “Chauncey Vibbard,” which had been in service for years on the Hudson River Dayline. She was the second steel-hulled vessel built for the Dayline, and combined speed, luxury and beauty to surpass in elegance and appearance any marine craft built for the Hudson river up to that period.
The construction of the “New York” was somewhat different from the usual methods of steamboat construction, thus giving her a bit different appearance from the usual Hudson river boats. Instead of placing the shaft forward of the cylinder as in most beam engines, the cylinder was placed forward of the shaft.
On August 14, 1907, the “New York” made the run from New York to Albany in six hours and 13 minutes, an indication of the speed which the steamboat possessed, and together with her consort, the “Albany,” she formed a combination which was unquestionably the finest river day boat passenger steamers in the world.
October 1908 marked the event which indirectly led to the destruction of the “New York.” The tugboat “William Flannery” crashed into the “New York” in the North River off West 13th street, damaging the dayline steamer to such an extent around the guards, that she was taken to the Thomas Marvel Shipbuilding yards at Newburgh for repairs. On the morning of October 16, 1908, as she lay in the yards in Newburgh, fire was discovered in the after hold of the “New York.” Captain A.H. Harquart and the crew of 73 men were asleep in their berths but were aroused in time to get ashore safely. The fire gained headway so quickly that in less than five minutes from the time the alarm was sounded, the after end of the magnificent steamer was in flames. Captain Harquart realized that it would be impossible to save the vessel and ordered the crew ashore, but soon after they had landed it was discovered that four colored (sic) waiters were missing. A search of the shipyards was unsuccessful- and later it was found that the four men had been trapped below the decks by the flames and had perished.
The “New York” was completely destroyed and later the engine was taken from the smoke-blackened hull, rebuilt, and placed in the new steamboat “Robert Fulton,” which is now in service under the banner of the Hudson River Dayline.
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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