Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Rare Model Steamboat -JACOB H. TREMPER c.1886

       Freight steamer JACOB H. TREMPER in Rondout Creek -Kingston, New York c.1886

The JACOB H. TREMPER was a popular sidewheeler that operated on the Hudson River during the late 19th and early 20th century. When reading articles, including those written by friend and author Donald C. Ringwald, I became curious why little was mentioned about this particular steamboat.

Three years passed since reading about the TREMPER, and by chance I discovered photos of this vessel in the archives of the Albany Institute of History and Art. The photo showed the steamer docked at Albany's pier in the early 1900s. The following year another photo surfaced from a bookstore across the river in Troy, New York -and, several months later more photos were found which now escalated my curiosity.

As data began to build, I learned that an elder riverman whom lived downriver had an extensive Collection on steamboat memorabilia -including vintage glass plates on river activity. At the urging of supporters I went to visit this gentlemen at his home in Kingston, New York. After viewing this outstanding material, Mr. Herman Boyle and I came upon many highly detailed and interesting photos of JACOB H. TREMPER.

Mr. Boyle told me how popular and valuable the vessel was to the river and the region. He then presented me a copy of George Murdocks' 1939 article.  After reading, I set out to research all the photos I acquired and then set to motion the preliminary sketches for the deck layout of this steamboat. Because of this vessel's unique design, several attempts were made to space the windows accurately to be insync with the hogframes and cabin configurations.

There were times when I had to step away from the area to get my bearings in order to re-work the plans. I now knew what it was like to be a draftsman and incorporate countless hours in a specific detail. One flaw, in scale, could ruin an entire project. What made this assignment special was, no models existed on this popular steamboat. It was to be the only accurate and rare model in the entire Hudson Valley.

          JACOB H. TREMPER Sectional Profile Plan -researched and drawn by author

The JACOB H. TREMPER was built in 1885 by Herbert Lawrence at Greenpoint, New York -the place where my father lived out his years. Her engine was constructed by W.A. Fletcher Company of New York. She was 180 feet long with a beam breadth of 30 feet. Her gross tonnage was 572. She carried a vertical beam engine which had a cyclinder diameter of 44 inches with a ten foot stroke.

TREMPER was built for the firm of Romer and Tremper of Rondout to be used as both freight and passenger steamboat. The service would be between the cities of Newburgh and Albany. The steamer was to run in line with the M. MARTIN, replacing EAGLE which was destroyed by fire two years prior.

         JACOB H. TREMPER passing Knickerbocker Dock on the Lower Hudson c.1906

The new steamboat proved to be a fine and exceptional vessel for the purpose forwhich she was built. She had a large freight capacity and fine accommodations for passengers -and these ammenities soon made themselves evident by the TREMPER being first to appear on the river in the spring of the year and the last to be laid up in the fall.

Romer and Tremper sold their fleet of steamboats in 1899 to the Central Hudson Steamboat Company in Newburgh. Serving this company, she had only one accident. This occurred on Monday morning, July 21, 1913. On that morning, JACOB H. TREMPER left Newburgh for Albany. As she steamed north she struck an unchartered rock off Esopus Island. The captain quickly ordered her course for the mud flats off Staatsburg on the east side of the river where she sanked. She was eventually raised, repaired and began her regular run in 1916 under the command of Captain John Dearstyne.

The JACOB H. TREMPER was one of the last sidewheel steamboats of her class to continue in service on the waters of the Hudson River. In the Fall of 1928 the vessel was deemed unfit and laid up at Newburgh. The following year she was sold and broken up by a dealer in the same city.

Scale Model of Hudson River Steamboat JACOB H. TREMPER as she appeared in 1886

 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 

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