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. 252- Washington Irving
The flagship of the Hudson River Dayline fleet- the “Washington Irving”- is a steamboat that is better known to the present generation, although her whistle no longer echoes among the Highlands of the Hudson; for it was 14 years ago that the pride of the Dayline met with an accident which ended her career.
The steel hull of the “Washington Irving” was built by the New York Shipbuilding Company at Camden, N.J., in 1912. Her keel was 405 feet long with an overall length of 416 feet, six inches. She had a breadth of beam of 47 feet, over the guards she was 84 feet, and her hold was 23 feet, seven inches deep. The gross tonnage of the “Washington Irving” was 3,104 and net tonnage 1,664. Her engine was constructed by the W. & A. Fletcher Company Iron Works of Hoboken, N.J., and was the incline double expansion type with three cranks and three cylinders. Two of the cylinders measured 70 inches in diameter and the third measured 45 inches, with a seven foot stroke. Steam was supplied by four single and two double ended scotch boilers carrying 170 pounds of steam and generating 6,000 horsepower.
The flagship of the Hudson River Dayline was launched at Camden, N.J., on Saturday, December 7, 1912- this date marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Dayline by Commodore Alfred Van Santvoord.
Destined exclusively for service as a day-boat between New York and Albany, the “Washington Irving” was by long odds the largest and most exquisitely furnished inland passenger vessel in the world. She had a passenger carrying capacity of 6,000, and made her first trip on Saturday, May 24, 1913, under the command of Captain David H. Deming with Thomas Hall as chief engineer.
Running in line with the Dayline fleet which consisted of the “Mary Powell,” “Albany,” “Robert Fulton,” “Hendrick Hudson,” and the “Alexander Hamilton,” the “Washington Irving” continued in service on the Hudson river until June 1926 when she met with an accident which closed her career.
On June 1, 1926 the “Washington Irving” left her pier at the foot of Desbrosses street, New York, bound for Albany with 200 passengers aboard. A heavy fog made the visibility very poor and the whistle of the “Washington Irving” kept up a constant din as she left her berth and headed upriver. The pilots of other vessels were also experiencing difficulty in navigating due to the fog, and thus it happened that the tug “Thomas E. Moran” of the Moran Towing Company, hauling two iron oil barges, hove into sight of the “Washington Irving”- too close to avoid a collision. One of the barges struck the “Washington Irving” aft of the wheel on the port side- smashing the side in completely.
Captain David H. Deming, commander of the pride of the Dayline, realized immediately the seriousness of the accident and tied down the whistle of his vessel for the purpose of summoning aid from other craft in the harbor. Passengers were ordered to the top deck to don lifebelts, and the continuous blasts of the “Washington Irving’s” whistle soon brought more than a dozen other vessels to her side. The ill-fated dayboat reached a pier on the Jersey shore where passengers were able to scramble to safety. Two lives were lost in the accident- a Mrs. Arthur Hoag and her three-year-old daughter of Long Island City.
The “Washington Irving” sunk along side of the pier- coming to rest on the end of the Holland Vehicular Tunnel. On February 14, 1927 the vessel was raised and later taken to Bayonne, New Jersey where she was tied up. In September 1933 the wreck of the “Washington Irving” was sold for junk to the Northern Metal Company of Philadelphia where she was taken and broken up.
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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