Copyright 2016 by Richard O. Aichele & Information Works Inc.

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Looking forward aboard the Lake George Steamboat Company's Mohican II classic excursion vessel cruising at 15 MPH in the upper deepwater portions of New York State's Lake George

 

The classic Mississippi River steamboat Delta Queen's Steam Calliope announced the boats arrival and departure from river ports..

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The Working Harbor Vessels

America's harbors and rivers were once crowded with tugboats, ferries and barges to transport people and cargo from one side to the other side. Many of the vessels were built and operated by the railroads where it was not possible for them to build bridges over the waters or tunnel under them.

tugnyc3New York Central Number 31 was part of a fleet of tugboats operated by the New York Central Railroad to move barges carrying freight cars to different points in New York Harbor. New York Central Railroad's Tug 31 built as a steam powered tug was still in active service when photographed on the lower Manhattan waterfront in the late 1960s. The active tugs in the mid-1900s included many steam powered tugs and ferries although use of diesel engine power resulted in the rertirement of older steam power vessels.

tugdal2The Port of New York's towing companies have included Moran Towing and Transportation. McAllister Towing and Dalzell Towing with its Dalzellido of New York shown crossing Lower New York Harbor toward New Jersey with the Statue of Liberty in the background about fifty years ago. Tugboats had the important role of not only asssisting in docking ocean going ships but for the railroads by providing the power to move barges filled with railroad freight cars and often passenger cars with passengers on-board.

 

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The growth of container cargo ships in the 1970s and 1980s totally changed operations in New York Harbor and harbors worldwide. No longer were the individual finger piers that could only dock one or two cargo ships where the cargo was loaded and off-loaded by cranes prectical or efficient. The photo shows one of the Moran Towing tugboats assisting the soon to be retired U.S. Lines American Farmer cargo ship as it sailed from one of the old Hudson River finger piers in Manhattan, New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Railroad Passenger Ferrries

The ferry operations were a valuable part of the railroads' infrastructure. At one time, New York Harbor ferry operatrions were done seven days a week by six railroads each with their own ferry fleets linking their passenger trains with their passengers final destinations and two New York City municipal ferry operations linking Staten Island with Manhattan and Brooklyn. The New York - New Jersey Hudson River and lower New York bay municipal and railroad ferries carried hundreds or thousands of commuters daily on their ferries. The Erie Railroad's passenger and vehicle ferry Youngstown shown sailing up the Hudson River from the Barclay Street ferry terminal in Manhattan to its Jersey City ferry terminal on the New Jersey side.ferryyoungstownrevised

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ferry Eliizabeth was one vessel of the Central Railroad of New Jersey's fleet of ferries carrying passengers and vehicles across the Hudson River between New York City and the railroad's massive Communipaw Terminal in Jersey City, NJ. The ferries from Manhattan dockimg at the terminal offered direct connection passenger train service locally in New Jersey, to destinations such as Baltimore, Maryland; Washington D.C. and throughout Pennsylvania.

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The New York area railroad ferries and tug boats are now gone and with with a few exceptions, the railroads' river front terminals and their famous ferry terminals are just fading history. However, in their prime, the crews of the railroad tugboats and ferries were a vital part of the railroads' overall daily operations. As with the crews on the trains, their boat crews were also issued hat badges. On example is this now very collectable Erie Railroad Captain's uniform hat badge was made to be worn by the captains of the Erie Railroad's tugboats and their ferries. These hat badges have become desireable collectible Artifacts from the Past.eriecaptainweb

 

On the West Coast, the operated railroad ferrys were built to carry hundreds or thousands of commuters daily on their boats. One example were the ferries operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Fransicco Bay. The Eureka was once the largest double ended ferry in service sailing much of its life between San Francisco and Sausalito, California under railroad operation. The 299 ft. long boat with a 78 ft. beam could carry 2,300 passengers and 120 cars per trip. Built with a wooden hull, she was powered by a walking beam steam engine. Today the Eureka survives and rests at San Francisco's Maritime Museum. Aboard the EurekaOnce aboard, the banks of benches inside provided comfortable seating on those days of foggy mornings when being outside might have been too cool . eureka3

eureka4The waters of San Francisco Bay were home to many large ferry boats carrying passengers and vehicles for most of the 20th Century from 1928 to 1957. For commuters and travellers to towns around the bay, the pilot house on the Eureka was a familiar sight as they glanced upward while boarding the boat.

 

 

 

 

An Era of Riverboats, the Overnight River Steamers and Great Excursion Vessels

 

wrap text around imageThe Delta Queen was one of America's remaining classic riverboats throughout the early 1980s. Her construction was done over a three year period between 1924 and 1927. Major portions were fabricated overseas such as the propulsion machinery from William Denny & Brothers Ltd., Dumbarton, Scotland and the paddlewheel shaft and the cranks that were forged at the Krupp Stahlwerke AG, Germany. Final construction was completed at the Banner Island Shipyard in Stockton, California.

wrap text around imageReminiscent of the great Misissippi River steamboats of the 1800s, the Delta Queen's gleaming brass, Tiffany style stained glass windows, ornate woodwork, its melodious steam caliope and, down below, surrounded by the aroma of steam and hot oil, the wonderful smoothly working machinery steadily turning the great stern paddle wheel were just some of the features of this grand boat.

The Delta Queen continued sailing into the 1980s on the inland waters of America's heartland calling at the river cities and smaller towns between New Orleans, Louisiana - St. Louis, Missouri -- St. Paul, Minnesota on the Mississippi River and up to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cincinnati, Ohio the Delta Queen's home port on the Ohio River.

For the passengers that enjoyed the leisurely crusing pace of the Delta Queen and the reassuring consistent sound of ther big paddle wheel at the stern, unforgetable memories were created.

 

 

belleIn earlier days along the river, the mighty Mississippi River, the Packet Boat Belle of the Bends stops at the landing in Vicksburg, MS transfering passengers and cargo coming from or destined for other Mississippi River ports.

 

 

st johnThe steamer St. Johns, along with her running mate the Drew provided the People's Evening Line's red plush and tassel overnight service on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, NY. The St. John was 385 feet long and powered by a massive walking beam steam engine with a 76 inch cylinder and 15 foot stroke. The boat burned in January, 1885.

 

robert fultonDuring the first half on the 20th Century, the overnight boats on the Hudson gradually gave way to daytime runs to the steamers such as the Robert Fulton and a thriving, lively daytime excursion business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

hendrick hudson4The typically large numbers of passengers and spectators on the pier in Kingston, New York shown greeting the Hudson River Day Line's 5,500 passenger steamer Hendrick Hudson making a regular stop on its upriver journey. Built in 1906 by the T. S. Marvel Shipbuilding Company in Newburgh, New York with an all steel hull and superstructure, the vessel was 400 feet long overall, had a beam of 45.1 feet at the gunwales and 82 feet over the guards and a draft of only 7.5 feet allowed to it to safely navigate the shallower upper portion of the Hudson River. The Hendrick Hudson was equipped with side paddle wheels powered by a 3 cylinder compound direct-actiing steam engine that produced 6,200 horsepower built by W. & A. Fletcher Co. Designed for service between New York City and Albany, New York, the Hendrick Hudson made her mainden voyage at speeds up to just under 24 milies per hours. This Hudson River boat entered service in August 1906 and was singularly impressive. Passengers could climb to the top deck, the hurricane deck, for views of the passing river scenes. This deck also included two parlor rooms and officers' staterooms. Below was deck number 3, the promenade deck, that included large enclosed observation rooms one forward and the other toward the stern. The second deck's main saloon provided passengers with with fine decorative appointments. The dining room was located below on the main deck offering guests the maximum cruising stability and smoothness through the river waters.

 

 

hudson straemersThe excursion steamer Hendrick Hudson departing from the Hudson Day Line's river landing at Poughkeepsie, NY heading downriver to New York City in the early 1900s.

 

 

 

 

 

Vessels Sailing on Lake George, New York

 

Minne-Ha-HaMany large inland lakes have a long history of water transportation that the served shoreline towns and individual properties before major road transportation projects and the automobile took over. One such enterprise started operations on Lake George, New York in 1871 as the Lake George Steamboat Company which became a part of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad in the same year. The first of the company's lake steamers was a large, fast, side-wheeled steamer 195 feet long with a 30 foot beam powered by a walking beam steam engine giving the vessel a speed of 20 MPH.

 

 

wrap text around imageWith various vessels, the company continued until 1945. It then had one aging steel hulled steam powered vessel called the Mohican II, a small dock and a small shipyard with a marine railway. The owners that took over in 1945 began a steady effort to rebuild the company and its facilities. Now, with three first class excursion vessels, passenger service in season is again popular on Lake George. The stern wheeler steamboat Minne-Ha-Ha was the first vessel built by the new management at its shipyard on the lake in 1969. She was later extensively enlarged and improved in 1998. The company's next major ship construction program at its lake front shipyard created the 189.5 foot long diesel powered Lac du Sacrement. It is a remarkably accurate recreation of the old Hudson River passenger steamer Peter Stuyvesant but reduced to a 3/4 scale.

Maintaining vessels is a never ending part of the business and the company's marine railway is a key element. In 2000, the Mohican II, originally built in 1908, was again due for a regular inspection, upgrading and general improvements typical of those performed on every vessel worldwide. The vessel was sailed to the company's shipyard at the north end of Lake George and taken out of the water using its marine railway.

 

wrap text around imagePositioning the Mohican II over a submerged cradle riding on submerged railroad tracks was performed flawlessly by the vessel's captain and the divers in the water.High & Dry

The final lift of the Mohican II out of the water and up onto the shipyard's work position took almost three hours. As the cradle and ship moved closer to shore, the ship had to be accurately positioned onto the cradle that rose to contact the hull bottom. The operation continued by pulling the cradle once it supported the ship's hull smoothly forward on the railway's tracks until both were completely out of the water and safely positioned high and dry in the shipyard.

 

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