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". See more Sunday News here.
No. 61- Benjamin B. Odell
The 264 foot steamer, “Benjamin B. Odell”, was built for the Central Hudson Steamboat Company for service on the Hudson River, and made her first trip on April 10, 1911. She was capable of making over 20 knots an hour and was one of the finest boats of her type on the Hudson river.
The main deck was set aside for freight, but there was a quarter deck passenger entrance with the purser’s office and auxiliary smoking room at one side. Broad stairs led from the deck to the main saloon above. In the extreme after end of the deckhouse was located the kitchen. The grand saloon of the “Odell” was made up of two decks, fore and aft, with galleries. On the fourth or hurricane deck was an observation room.
The “Benjamin B. Odell” had 63 staterooms and 126 berths. These staterooms were all outside rooms with two windows apiece and were furnished in very comfortable manner. The dining room was located on the third deck, extending the full width of the cabin and containing 20 tables seating 100 people.
The pilot house of the “Odell” was large and fully equipped, having both hand and steam steering wheels independent of one another. The captain’s room was directly aft of the pilot house with a door connecting, and built like that of an ocean liner.
Although originally built for night service between New York and Rondout, the “Odell” was capable of being used on day excursions and her license called for 2,533 passengers when she was carrying freight. Without cargo, her capacity was rated as 3,050 passengers.
The “Benjamin B. Odell” was commanded by F.L. Simpson, who was promoted from the “William F. Romer”, where he had been in charge for eight years.
On Friday, February 26, 1937, as the “Benjamin B. Odell” laid at the Rosoff dock at Marlborough where it had been tied up for the winter season, a mysterious fire completely destroyed the huge steamer. Today she still lies at the dock, a charred mass of twisted and tangled wreckage, a sad reminder of the once fine steamboat of 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.
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