Tag Archives: Maritime History

Rondout National Historic District: A Walking Tour


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Church steeple with Mary Power steamship weathervane, seen from President's Place.A walking tour of The Rondout-West Strand National Historic District in Kingston, sponsored monthly by Friends of Historic Kingston, contrasts the results of a heartbreaking 1960’s urban renewal project with the gentrification that followed in an area that escaped the wrecking ball.

After the entire east side of Lower Broadway was demolished in 1967 vintage 19th century buildings on the opposite side stood empty, awaiting what seemed their inevitable fate. Luckily, federal funding ran out and what is today the Rondout – West Strand National Historic District was spared. New structures were built part-way up the east side of the hill. The restored neighborhood brings to my mind the painful image of a one-winged bird. Continue reading

Peconic Bay: History on Long Island


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peconic bayBordered on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and on the north by Long Island Sound, the Peconic Bay region, including the North and South Forks, has only recently been recognized for its environmental and economic significance. The story of the waterway and its contiguous land masses is one of farmers and fishermen, sailing vessels and submarines, wealthy elite residents, and award winning vineyards.

Peconic Bay: Four Centuries of History on Long Island’s North and South Forks (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2015) examines the past 400 years of the region’s history, tracing the growth of the fishing industry, the rise of tourism, and the impact of a military presence in the wake of September 11. Continue reading

The Battle of Diamond Island on Lake George


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General Lincoln by Charles Wilson PealeToday it’s a State-owned island – a day use area for picnics – but Diamond Island witnessed a horrific bombardment by gun boats manned by Patriots during the American Revolution. The fight occurred during British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign to capture Albany. Initially, Burgoyne’s 9,000 man army had successfully captured Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence in July.

When Burgoyne’s progress stalled near Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall, NY), his supplies were quickly eaten up by his extended campaign. Since his large army could not easily live off the land, except for shooting an occasional deer or bear, or boiling up a captured rattlesnake or turtle, the 54-year old general established a long supply line back to Canada. It was anchored by Fort George at the southern end of Lake George and by Fort Ticonderoga at the northern end. Between the two forts, a supply depot, guarded by two companies of the 47th Regiment of Foot under Captain Thomas Aubrey was fixed on Diamond Island. Continue reading

Plane Crash Wreckage Hike Recalls Mount Beacon 6


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Dixie Kiefer on the USS TiconderogaOn Sunday, November 11, 1945, a Navy Beechcraft twin engine transport plane traveling from Curtis Wright Airport in New Jersey to the Quonset Air Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, crashed near the northwest ridge of Beacon Mountain in the Town of Fishkill, New York.

Among the six men who lost their lives that day was Navy legend Dixie Kiefer, Commander of the Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and one of the World War II Navy’s best known figures. On Saturday June 20, 2015 there will be a hike to the site of the crash on Mt. Beacon, were some wreckage remains. Continue reading

Hermione Arrives in U.S., Lafayette Exhibit Planned


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Hermoine arrives in Yorktown Virginia“She sails like a bird,” the Marquis de Lafayette wrote of the Hermione – the ship that carried him and a cache of materiel across the Atlantic in 1780 and which is the model for a modern replica which arrived in the United States on Friday.

The New-York Historical Society in Manhattan is celebrating Lafayette, the “Boy General” whose friendship with George Washington and diplomatic networks in Paris helped win the American Revolution with a new exhibit timed to the arrival of the Hermione. Continue reading

Lilac Arts Series Launched At NYC’s Pier 25


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Lilac Arts ExhibitThe Lilac Arts Series, a contemporary art exhibition aboard the historic ship Lilac, will run through August 15, 2015 and focus on three themes inspired by the ship’s story – “Steam”, “Work + Labor” and “Restoration/Reinvention“.  The visual art exhibition will feature the work of over 25 artists within the ship’s unique spaces, including several site-specific installations.  The exhibition and events are free and open to the public.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Lilac was built in 1933 and is America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender. Lilac is currently being restored as a unique vehicle for maritime education and community activities and is berthed at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25. Continue reading

Spotlight: Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum


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Sodus Bay LighthouseThe Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum, located at 7606 North Ontario Street in Sodus Point, Wayne County, New York, has opened for its 31st season.

Built in 1870, the lighthouse was used to guide ships on Lake Ontario to safe harbor in Sodus Bay.  Use of the light was discontinued in 1901, having been made redundant by an outer light on the bay’s west pier.  The building now houses a museum, operated by the Sodus Bay Historical Society.  Exhibitions focus on local and maritime history and include displays about lighthouse keepers’ tools, railroads and trolleys, the Erie Canal, and the War of 1812.   Continue reading

USS Slater Opens For The Season In Albany


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USS SLATER 2015USS Slater has opened to the public for the ship’s 18th season in Albany.  A National Historic Landmark, the Slater is the only remaining World War II Destroyer Escort afloat in America.

Destroyer Escorts originally were conceived to battle Nazi U-Boats while escorting convoys across the Atlantic. However, their versatility proved useful in the Pacific defending task forces from Kamikaze attacks. Many Destroyer Escorts continued to serve during the Korean and Viet Nam Wars. The current US Navy Fleet’s frigates are descendants of these small ships. Continue reading

Historic Steamboat Planned For Hudson River


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ss columbiaIn the years between 1807 and 1971, the Hudson River was alive with boat traffic. The great Hudson River Day Liners were perhaps the best known of all the vessels – famous for their elegance and speed. New Yorkers and visitors alike experienced the river and magnificent landscapes from their decks and plush salons.

Now, a New York City nonprofit is planning to restore the S.S. Columbia, believed to be America’s oldest surviving excursion steamship, for service on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, with stops at Bear Mountain State Park, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, and Hudson. Continue reading

Replica Half Moon Leaves NY Waters


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Half-Moon-at-Hoorn-IllustrationCiting financial hardships, the Board of Directors of the New Netherlands Museum is moving the Half Moon replica ship to the City of Hoorn, The Netherlands. On Saturday night the Half Moon arrived in New London, Connecticut in preparation for it’s departure.

A petition to Dr. Andrew Hendricks, Founder and Chairman of the New Netherland Museum has been established, but has drawn little support, garnering less than 600 signatures. The ship leaves New York with nary a word from the state’s history community or its leaders. Continue reading

Freeport: Working the Waters of Long Island


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photo 10Long Island Traditions, dedicated to documenting, presenting and preserving the maritime traditions of recreational and commercial fishermen, is sponsoring two tours that explore the maritime traditions of Freeport.  “Boating with the Baymen” will hold its first Freeport tour on Sunday, May 31 at 2 pm.

The spring/summer tour for the season explores the traditions of fishermen and baymen, and bay house owners including Bob Doxsee of Doxsee Sea Clam in Point Lookout, bay house owners and boat builders John Remsen Sr. and his son John Remsen Jr., and Freeport baymen Joey Scavone, Collin Weyant and Lucas Krucher.  Themes of the tour will include “looking backwards” and “bay houses” led by Doxsee and John Remsen Sr., working the waters including Remsen Jr., Scavone, Krucher and Weyant, and “The next generation” focusing on Scavone, Krucher and Weyant. Continue reading

Early United States Trade with China


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ben_franklins_worldA mercantile partnership led by Robert Morris sent the Empress of China, a 360-ton ship to Canton, China one month and eight days after the Congress of the United States ratified the Treaty of Paris, 1783.

Why did these merchants look so far east to secure a profitable trade? And why did they attempt such a venture not long after the United States secured its independence from Great Britain?

In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Dane Morrison, Professor of History at Salem State University and author of True Yankees: The South Seas and the Discovery of American Identity, helps us discover the answers to these questions and more as he leads us on an exploration of the early American trade with China. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/012

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New Book: Wood, Whiskey and Wine


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Wood Whiskey WineBarrels – we rarely acknowledge their importance, but without them we would be missing out on some of the world’s finest beverages – most notably whiskies and wines – and of course for over two thousand years they’ve been used to store, transport, and age an incredibly diverse array of provisions around the globe.

In the new wide-ranging book Wood, Whiskey and Wine (Reaktion, 2014), Henry Work tells the intriguing story of the significant and ever-evolving role wooden barrels have played during the last two millennia, revealing how the history of the barrel parallels that of technology at large. Continue reading

Traveling NY Shipwrecks Exhibit In Oswego


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3682FairLakeGeorgePanel3005The Great Shipwrecks of NY’s Great Lakes is in Oswego, NY, at the Tyler Art Gallery in Penfield Hall Library at SUNY Oswego. The exhibit was developed for the 2014 Great New York State Fair and was updated for this installation. It will be on display through January 22, 2015.

The exhibit includes interpretive panels highlighting shipwrecks in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes, Lake George and the St. Lawrence River; videos; and a newly-built replica of the ‘turtle ship’ Radeau that sunk in Lake George. Freshwater science technology components including a remotely-operated underwater vehicle and a Great Lakes Research Consortium in-water sensing buoy. Continue reading

Hudson River Ice Yacht Event In Hyde Park


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Ice yacht Whiff-near-Athens nySailing on ice has been a winter tradition in the Hudson Valley since at least the 1800s. Until the invention of the automobile, ice yachts were the fastest vehicles on earth and attracted many rich and famous sailors – including the Roosevelts.

The Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, which celebrates its 130th anniversary this year, has teamed with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home, Library & Museum to organize a historic exhibit of Hudson River Ice Yachts, on display from December 21, 2014 through January 3, 2015. Continue reading

Replica Half Moon Is Leaving New York State


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Half Moon at Hoorn IllustrationThe Board of Directors of the New Netherland Museum has announced that the Half Moon, a replica of the ship sailed by Henry Hudson in 1609, will leave New York State for a new home port in the City of Hoorn, The Netherlands in 2015.

The City Council of Hoorn voted Tuesday to adopt the Half Moon for inclusion in a 17th century historic site under the management of the Westfries Museum. The Half Moon is expected to  remain the property of the New Netherland Museum, but it will lose its long-time captain, William T. “Chip” Reynolds. Continue reading

Historic Ship Museum Hosting First Annual Fundraiser


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LILAC at Pier 25 as the morning fog liftsOn Wednesday, November 12, Lilac Preservation Project will host its first fundraiser at Cercle Rouge Restaurant in Tribeca. The organization is celebrating a record-breaking year of attendance at its public arts and education programs on board the lighthouse tender Lilac at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25.

Lilac Preservation Project’s Museum Director and President, Mary Habstritt will announce plans for 2015, including launch of a capital campaign to restore the steam boilers and overhaul the ship’s systems to operate as a sustainable seafaring vessel. Continue reading

The Half Moon and The Hermione: A Tale of Two Ships


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Half_Moon_ReplicaIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So it goes for two ships and their diametrically contradictory paths through history.

The Half Moon is a full scale replica of the original Dutch ship of exploration sailed by Henry Hudson for the Dutch East India Company in 1609. The original Half Moon was the first European ship to document entry into what we now call the Delaware Bay and River, and to explore the Hudson River to its navigable limits.

The HermioneThe Hermione is a full scale replica of the French ship that brought LaFayette to America in 1780 and which joined Admiral de Grasse’s fleet for the Battle off the Capes on the lower Chesapeake and the siege at Yorktown. The ship then sailed to Philadelphia in 1781 where the Continental Congress visited and paid tribute to it. Continue reading

NYS Barge Canal on National Register of Historic Places


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nys_barge_canal_system_map-100The National Park Service has announced that it has listed the New York State Barge Canal on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation recognizes the New York State Canal System as a nationally significant work of early twentieth century engineering and construction that affected transportation and maritime commerce for nearly half a century.

The New York State Barge Canal National Register Historic District spans 450 miles and includes the four branches of the state’s canal system: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca canals– all much enlarged versions of waterways that were initially constructed during the 1820s. The nomination evaluated 791 features and included 552 contributing structures and buildings. Continue reading