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
The steamboat whose history is recorded today was the third and last vessel built and named in honor of its builder- Thomas Collyer. She served on various routes for 51 years and was finally dismantled at Staten Island.
The wooden hull of the Thomas Collyer was constructed at New York in 1863. She was 196 feet long, breadth of beam 29 feet, depth of hold eight feet six inches. Her tonnage was listed at 596 gross and 410 net tons, and she was powered with a vertical beam engine with a cylinder diameter of 50 inches, with a 12 foot stroke.
Thomas Collyer, for whom the steamboat was named, had the reputation of building some of the fastest inland steamboats in America. The launching of the “Thomas Collyer” marked the completion of 37 years of steamboat construction for the builder and was also the last vessel which he built. It was the third steamboat launched under the name “Thomas Collyer.”
Soon after her appearance in New York harbor and on the Hudson river, the “Thomas Collyer” gained the reputation of being an exceptionally fast vessel. It was claimed that she could attain a speed of 21 miles per hour and this brought her the title of “Queen of the One-pipe Steamboats.” The first regular run of the “Thomas Collyer” was between New York and Newburgh in opposition to the famous “Mary Powell,” “Queen of The Hudson.” The “Thomas Collyer” left the north side of Jay street pier in New York at the same hour as the “Mary Powell,” but her term of service in opposition to the famous “Queen of The Hudson” did not last long.
The excursion business on the Hudson river and Long Island Sound was next invaded by the “Thomas Collyer,” and in 1869 she was purchased by John H. Starin and placed in service on the North Shore Staten Island and New York ferry route in line with the steamboat “Black Bird.” The “Thomas Collyer” continued on this route until 1879, when the ferry franchise was purchased by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, which consolidated the ferries at St. George and built modern ferryboats.
About this period John H. Starin built a museum at Glen Island, and the “Thomas Collyer” was placed on the Glen Island route with the rest of the Starin fleet. In 1882, the “Thomas Collyer” was rebuilt at Noank, Connecticut, renamed the “Sam Sloan,” and returned to service on the Glen Island route, where she remained until 1904. The following year found the former “Thomas Collyer” again in the excursion business on the Hudson river and Long Island Sound.
About 1910 the Starin fleet was purchased by the McAllister Steamboat Company of New York, and the “Sam Sloan,” renamed the “Atlas,” was placed in service on the Glen Island route.
The former “Thomas Collyer” was in service until 1914, when she was found to be of no further use. She was taken to Port Richmond, Staten Island, and dismanteled. Her boiler and engine were removed and the hull sold to a yacht club in Greenville, New Jersey, for use as a club house.
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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