The Golden Age of Steamboats on the Hudson River New York, United States Lecture Date: 2008-09-27 Saturday, 27 September: The Golden Age of Steamboats on the Hudson River Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Montrose, NY 10548 Coffee is at 10:30 AM, Presentation is at 11:00 AM Please contact NMHS at 914-737-7878, ext. 0 if you plan to attend. Allynne Lange, curator of the Hudson River Maritime Museum of Kingston, New York will provide this illustrated presentation relating the story of Hudson River steamboats, beginning with the introduction of the first successful steamer in this country, the North River Steamboat – the vision of investor and politician Robert Livingston, and inventor and entrepreneur Robert Fulton.
The inaugural run of the North River Steamboat on August 17, 1807 certainly provided a spectacle for onlookers and earned the vessel the nickname “Fulton’s Monster.” The initial voyage of the steamer was described as follows in an 1807 publication:
“The surprise and dismay excited among the crews of these vessels by the appearance of the steamer was extreme. These simple people, the majority of whom had heard nothing of Fulton’s experiments, beheld what they supposed to be a huge monster, vomiting fire and smoke from its throat, lashing the water with its fins, and shaking the river with its roar, approaching rapidly in the very face of both wind and tide.”
The North River Steamboat, later known as the Clermont, operated on the Hudson between New York City and Albany, leaving New York on Saturdays at 6:00 in the evening and leaving Albany on Wednesdays at 8:00 in the morning, taking about 36 hours for the journey. Stops were made at West Point, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Esopus, and Hudson.
From that first commercially successful steamboat there came to be a golden age of hundreds of steamers on the Hudson of many types carrying passengers and freight. These steamers continued to be in operation well into the 20th century. The golden age of Hudson River steamers coincided with the Hudson River School of painting in the 19th century, and was an altogether romantic, colorful, and historic era. National Maritiem Historical Society 5 John Walsh Blvd. PO Box 68 Peekskill, NY 10566 800-221-6647