STEAM BOAT COMPANIES
COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis114
NEW YORK AND HUDSON STEAMBOAT COMPANY
This company is the lineal successor the firm established in 1818 by Captain Judah Paddock, for the purpose of doing a general freighting business between Hudson and New York. The business of this firm was done wholly by sailing-vessels, for at that time and for several years thereafter no steamer had been owned at the port of Hudson.
Captain Paddock died in 1823, but the business being profitable, was continued. Its management was chiefly in the hands of Captain John Power, * though Samuel Coleman was a principal owner. Seven years after Captain Paddock's death the business ws merged in that of the Hudson Tow-boat Company, which was formed in 1830, with Captain Power as their agent and manager, in which position he continued until 1836.
The first steamboat of the company was the "Legislator." In the Rural Repository of June 4, 1831, is found an allusion to the company and their business as follows: "A tow-boat company has been formed for the purpose of carrying the produce of the country to New York, and merchandise from thence to this city and country. The company own a powerful steamboat, and two barges† of three hundred tons each, fitted up in good style for passengers as well as freight. These boats alternately leave Hudson and New York once a week, and perform the distance of one hundred and thirty miles in fourteen hours."
In 1833 the company advertised that the "Legislator" would make tri-weekly trips to New York, and that Barge No. 1, Captain Peter G. Coffin, and Barge No. 2, Captain John T. Haviland, Jr., would make weekly trips in her tow; and that "the barges will at all times be open for the accommodation of boarders in New York, as heretofore. Towing will be taken by the ‘Legislator’ if required." At the end of three years the company declared a dividend of ninety per cent, and two years later a second dividend of thirty per cent.
Coal was first burned on this line in or about the year 1835, the first furnace and blower adapted to the use of this fuel on steamboats being the invention of Daniel Dunbar, of Hudson.
In 1836 the business passed into the hands of Jeremiah Bame, and under him was called the "Hudson and New York Daily Steam Transportation Line," which, in the season of 1837, ran the barges No. 1, Captain P. G. Coffin; No. 2, Captain Henry Hiller; and No. 3, Captain E. D. Newbery; with the steamboats "Legislator," Captain Thomas P. Newbery, and "General Jackson," Captain John T. Haviland. The last named did no towing either up or down; the "Legislator" towed one barge down on Tuesday and one on Friday, and brought two up on the Saturday trip. The steamboat "Rockland," Captain William Allen, also ran in the transportation line during that season, being advertised by Mr. Bame to make daily trips between Hudson and Albany.‡
The successors of Mr. Bame were Messrs. Hubbel, Clark & Co., who were proprietors of the line from about 1842 to 1850, and were succeeded by Haviland, Clark & Co.
In January, 1868, the line and its business passed into the hands of George H. Power, who bought of Peter Bogardus the docks and buildings pertaining to it, taking possession on the 1st of February. On the night of February 3 fire broke out in a building used as a vinegar-factory, standing on the corner of Water and Ferry streets, and that building, with the office and warehouse of the company, and their contents, were entirely destroyed. Mr. Power then conceived the idea of securing greater safety against fire by using sheet-iron as an outer covering, and immediately erected such a warehouse in place of the one which had been destroyed. This was the first iron-clad warehouse on the river, and was ready for occupancy upon the opening of navigation. The business was conducted in Mr. Power's name, though Messrs. Reed & Powell, of Coxsackie, were interested with him from 1868 to 1872, and were owners of the "Redfield," which was one of the boats of the line, the other being the "Nuhpa," then a new boat.
The company was reorganized and incorporated Jan. 12, 1872, with a capital of $150,000. The president is George B. Fairfield. In 1874 the line was leased to D. M. Hamilton and Reed & Powell, of Coxsackie, and it is still run by these gentlemen, with E. J. Hamilton as superintendent.
A large number of boats have run in this line, under its different proprietors, since the days of the old "Legislator." The "Columbia" was built by Jeremiah Bame, and was put on the line in June, 1841, making her first trip from New York to Hudson, under command of Captain Newbery (before the "Legislator"), in eight and one-quarter hours; thus establishing her reputation as an exceedingly fast boat. Afterwards, on several occasions, she raced with the "North America" and other steamers. The "Fairfield" was run by Hubbel, Clark & Co., and was charged with having caused the great fire of 1844, by sparks from her smoke-stack. The "Oregon," owned by Haviland, Clark & Co., was sunk by collision in the fall of 1862. The "Knickerbocker," a boat which had run on this line, was lost in goverment service during the War of the Rebellion. The "South America" and "Connecticut" also entered the service of the government at that time. The "Berkshire" was built at Athens, and put on the line in 1863, and was burned at Hyde Park in the summer of that year. A portion of the hull was saved, and upon this was built the "Nuhpa," which is now owned in New York.
The boats now running in the line are the "McManus" and the "Redfield," both propellers of between six hundred and seven hundred tons burden. These steamers are run daily in connection with the Boston and Albany railroad, and the steamboat company bill freight, and ticket passengers, from New York to all points on that road. The company's office and warehouse are located at the first pier south of he ferry-slip.
*Captain John Power, the father of George H. and William H. Power, commenced boating on the Hudson river as early as 1804 or 1805. A few years afterwards he became the senior member of the freighting firm of Power, Livingston & Co. (the others being Moncrief Livingston, Peter Ostrander, and -----Bingham), who were actively engaged in business during the War of 1812-15. He was the owner of the first steamboat belonging to Hudson. This was the "Bolivar," put on in 1824 or 1825. For many years Captain Power was identified with the transportation business at Hudson and throughout his life was an active, enterprising, and public-spirited citizen.
†Barges were first employed in the transportation business at Hudson before the formation of the tow-boat company by a company composed of Samuel Plumb, Oliver Wiswall, Abner Hammond, and Rufus Reed. Their barges were built in Hudson, on the South bay. They were vessels of about three hundred tons, and were towed to and from New York by the Albany steamboats. The tow-boat company, upon its organization, purchased the barges of Messrs. Plumb, Hammond, Wiswall, and Reed, and they retired from the business.
‡The steamboat "Westchester," owned by H. & G. McDougal, was also running regularly to New York, having been first put on in 1836.