Editor's Note: This article from the April 16, 1850 issue of the Philadelphia, PA North American and United States Gazette newspaper looks back to the days of sloop travel. See more Sunday News here.
Reminiscences of the North River – Major Noah’s reminiscences of olden times, are no less famous for their abundance than for their interest. In a recent number of his Sunday Times he gives some interesting information, showing the progress which has been made in the navigation of the Hudson within the past half century. He says:
In the year 1800, merchants residing a hundred miles or more from New York, and distant from the North River ten or fifteen miles, sent their bed and bedding to the landing from which they were to sail for the city, by a team, and themselves followed on horseback. At the landing, their bed & c., was placed on board the sloop that conveyed their produce to market, and by it they took passage for the city. The horse was put to pasture or in the stable until their return, when the owner rode him home; and by the team that went for merchandise the bed and bedding were returned. Such was the convenience of riding at that day.
Six years afterwards, according to the Major, a company composed of five individuals associated themselves together and built the sloop “Experiment,” for the purpose of “rendering the passage between N.Y. and Albany by water more expeditious, convenient and pleasant to ladies and gentlemen travelling north and south through the State of New York, as well as to promote the interest of those concerned, (as expressed in the words of the agreement,) by building a packet of one hundred and ten tons burthen, for the purpose of carrying passengers only.
The next year, 1807, the company was increased and another sloop was built, which performed the trip between Albany and New York in 27 hours – a remarkable trip in those days. This was the same year that Fulton made his successful trip by steam in 36 hours, and from thence steady progress was on its feet.
The old North River Boat, (says the Times,) in her original construction, had a strange appearance. Her water-wheels were without any houses as at the present day; and had crossheads connected with the piston, instead of the walking beam now in general use. The countryman, when he first saw her from Hudson, told his wife he had seen the devil going to Albany in a saw mill.
The experiment was at one time made to run horse-boats on the River, but signally failed.
Steamboats on the North River first performed their trips with wood. Lackawanna coal was afterwards introduced, by which the expense of fuel was reduced from $150 a trip to $30. This was the commencement of a new era in steamboating, hardly less in importance than the original application of steam to boats. – Ex. Paper.
Thank you to HRMM volunteer George Thompson, retired New York University reference librarian, for sharing these glimpses into early life in the Hudson Valley. And to the dedicated HRMM volunteers who transcribe these articles.
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