Friday, September 30, 2011

Hudson River Era -19th Century Towboats

                           Hudson River Towboat AMERICA C.1852,  Painting- James Bard

This particular style of Hudson River steamboat which, in essence, has been called the 'workhorse of the river' has been as rare as the models I've built...and continue to build.
Concentration has been more on the steamboats of past times and very little attention given to the little, and sometimes massive paddlewheelers that towed supplies and ships to ports along the river. These were the 'tugboats' of yesteryear; the vessel known as the sidewheel towboat or towsteamer.

We see these vintage-type vessels in paintings and photos, but seldom are they written about or even produced as models. To this end I started to investigate the towboat during the mid-80s and was pleasantly surprised about how they came about and what their purpose was on the Hudson River between New York City and Troy, New York. I left no stone unturned as I studied and researched these 'gems'. Later to design plans and build them as they truly appeared for the period that they operated. AMERICA was one such vessel.

                       Hudson River Towsteamer AMERICA, Wood Model -Scale 1:96

AMERICA is considered one of my most favorite builds of those produced; inpart, because of her beautiful lines and powerful form as a Hudson River 'workhorse'. I first saw the James Bard painting of her while attending art class at the Albany Institute of History and Art. What was fascinating in the painting were the fancy paddleboxes and the small vertical beam engine that sat above the boxes respectively.

I lived in an area where the former owner's home existed only a few blocks away. That owner's name was Samuel B. Schuyler, a prominent man of color who owned a fleet of towboats that operated between Albany and New York City during the mid to latter part of the 19th century. The mansion-type estate had a rotunda on the roof and, as local media exclaimed, it was built so that Mr. Schuyler could view his vessels from that vantage point.

Three principle towing lines operated in the Capital District of New York during that period.
The Austin Line, the Betts Line and the Schuyler Line. These Lines were distinguished by the color of their walking beams, re: Austin carried the green; Betts the black, and Schuyler the red.

                            Towboat Sidewheeler AMERICA c.1853 -Detail, Starboard

Here, I depict Mr. Schuyler's tow AMERICA as she appeared in 1853. At 212 feet she was one of the largest steamers to service the Albany-New York route. She was built in 1852 for the Schuyler Line and served for 38 years before being sold to the Beverick Towing Co. in 1890. She was finally acquired by the Cornell Towing Company of Rondout and operated on the Rondout -New York route until 1902 where she was broken up at Perth Amboy.

                                    Port Stern View -AMERICA c.1853, Wood Model

These photos serve to illustrate the beauty of this vessel which was utimately a splendid site on the Hudson River during the heydey of steamboating.

For more information about commissioning a fine quality Hudson River or Northeast steamboat model email: or call 1-774-757-7137. You may also visit Social Share Toolbar

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Building The Steamboat -The Beginning

It started some thirty years ago on the shores of the Hudson River in Albany, New York. I built my first steamboat model of the MARY POWELL for a business executive's Boardroom. From there the journey began where, to date, more than one hundred models have left my studios between New York and Massachusetts.

Many collectors have inquired as to how I could be so definative with these timeless miniatures, especially those post-modern vessels of the famous Hudson River Day Line, to name a few. It has been an interesting journey to have met authors, collectors, steamboat owners and personnel of that period where information was exchanged.

I have learned over the years that these became highly sought after and I expanded on the subject matter to research steamboats of every possible vintage from walking beam sidewheel to propellor. Many types operated on the river, re: towboats, dayboats and nightboats. All had a unique appearance about them and it was a challenge to build; however, I successfully made these custom pieces and became the forerunner in the Hudson River Valley.

Today, many of my works in are collections all over the United States and in some foreign countries. I'm overwhelmed with how the work is received by those who respect the Hudson River. It's encouraging to know that models can be made of these vessels that once ran between New York City and Albany, New York -including the City of Troy.
The photo that is shown is a model I built of the TROY as she appeared in 1840. One of many early types that ran on the river. Below is a model of a nightboat, the ST. JOHN of 1865 which show a different appearance of a steamboat which has more cabin area for those travelling the river at night for sleeping.

For more information about commissioning a fine quality Hudson River or Northeast steamboat model email: or call 1-774-757-7137. You may also visit Social Share Toolbar