Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Model Steamboat TROY c.1846 - Rex Stewart

Early steamboats that operated on New York's Hudson River were distinctive and had elegant appearances. These vessels, though a part of early Americana, lacked true representation in photos. The camera was not yet in vogue for photographers to capture their appearances, so visual images were accepted by way of notable artists, newspapers, and lithographers of the period.

       An unknown lithograph showing the Hudson River dayboat TROY as she appeared
      in 1840.

Drawings, illustrations and artist sketches and paintings documented close likenesses of these steamers. Lithographs also recorded their structures by way of several printers, one being Currier and Ives out of New York City. From these references, possibilities existed for building an interesting replica. However, much was based on the literature that was written.

Because nightboats greatly differed from the dayboats, to get a better understanding of the TROY, it is written that she was brought out as a dayboat for the Troy-New York Line in 1840...three decades after the War of 1812. Some writings state she was the largest boat in tonnage to appear on the river at that time, and that she had more speed than any vessel afloat.

Viewing three different images, I proceeded in producing a detailed scale drawing of TROY, finding interesting features which I didn't obtain with other vessels built in the Collection. From these features I was able to get a better perspective on the evolution of design and machinery -comparing what was for 1840 to what existed in 1860 which was radical change.
The drawings and lithographs displayed TROY as being a sleek-looking, fast-riding steamboat. With these facts, it was now time to build the model -the only one of its kind in the entire Hudson Valley.

      Port-side profile showing "King Neptune" painted on the paddleboxes of TROY during
      her 1846 season.

The main feature of TROY's appearance were her paddleboxes of 1846. A writing stated she carried a painting of "King Neptune" on them so to make her identifiable from both the river and shore. Also, because there was rivalry between New York City and troy, citizens from both cities were only patronizing vessels from their locales. "King Neptune" was part of the promotional process assisting citizens to identify 'their' boat when she made her runs on the river. She was a river traveler's favorite as a dayboat, but soon was converted and placed on the Hudson as a nightboat in 1848, running in line with the EMPIRE OF TROY.

                  Samuel Ward Stanton's famous drawing of steamboat TROY c.1840 

The maiden trip of this 294 foot steamboat was made July 17, 1840 under Captain A. Gorham. A record run was made the following year from New York City to Troy in 8 hours and 10 minutes which included five landings. During this period rivalry between the two cities was so intense that those cities only supported their vessels. When the EMPIRE was built in 1843, the owners realizing she might be mistaken for an Albany boat, added the words "OF TROY" to the paddelboxes.

TROY was not just a popular boat, but a favorite -even for the Albany citizens who watched her paddle gracefully by. a young John J. Morrisey of Troy, N.Y., served as a deckhand on the boat and later married the Captain's daughter. Morrisey went on to become heavyweight champion of the world and a one time Congressman.

                  Port profile of the Hudson River sidewheeler TROY c.1846, Wood Model

After more than twenty years on the river, TROY ceased running as a converted nightboat.
She was dismantled at Keyport, New Jersey in 1859.

My model show TROY in her 1846 appearance. It is scaled at 1:150 or 3/64"= 1'. As with the other models in the Collection, it is scratchbuilt of pine and basswoods with the spars made of birch. Panel work detail was cut into using a crafters' utility knife.

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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