The ferry boat RIVER BELLE, ca. 1894

The RIVER BELLE, a side-wheel steamer, is a fine example of how the uses (and names) of a ship change over time. Between 1846 and 1894, she had three different names and as least as many owners. Significantly for Red Hook, she shuttled passengers between Manhattan and Greenwood Cemetery, presumably docking at the Hamilton Avenue Ferry Terminal in the 1840s, and was laid up for a time during the late 1880s in Erie Basin. She sank in 1894.

Text from the Nautical Gazette April 19, 1894

History of the RIVER BELLE:

The steamboat RIVER BELLE which recently sank in the Highlands of the Hudson River, was formerly known as L. BOARDMAN and CRICKET. An accident occurred on her way to T. S. Marvel’s yard at Newburgh to be overhauled. Workmen were put onboard to work on her before she got to Newburgh. These workmen accidently broke a pipe between a seacock and a seachest. BELLE went down in 100 to 125 feet of water. She was owned by Fred. Jansen of Brooklyn. Originally built in 1846 in New York as CRICKET, she ran during her first year between New York and Norwalk with the steamboat CATALINE. In 1847 she plied for a while between New York and Greenwood Cemetery. She was employed at various routes until 1862 when she partially burned at Harlem. She was then converted into a Sandy Hook towboat and renamed L. BOARDMAN. After this she was again rebuilt as a passenger boat and about 1870 ran between Catskill, Hudson, and Albany. She was then bought by W. O. Mailler and Capt. D. C. Woolsey who ran her between Sing Sing, Haverstraw, and Newburgh in place of the G. T. OLYPHANT. She ran between Haverstraw and Newburgh for a long time. In 1883 she was rebuilt and renamed RIVER BELLE. Soon after this she was replaced by the EMELINE on the Haverstraw and Newburgh route. RIVER BELLE was then used as a spare boat, and for excursions. Capt. Woolsey sold her in 1887 to Danville Railroad Company and she ran on the James River for one season. In 1888 she ran between Harlem and New York, and at another time between New York and Roslyn. After having been laid up in Erie Basin for some time, she was sold last year by Capt. Thomas Pitt to Capt. Jansen. With numerous improvements, like electric lights, she was placed on the Catskill and Albany Line where she ran all season. She measures 138’9” x 21’ x 7’2”, 121.12 gt, 6-.56 net. She was not a fast boat. She was raised by the Chapman Wrecking Co. on Thursday, temporarily beached at Peekskill, then taken to Tietjen & Lang’s drydock at Hoboken. Her seacock had been broken open.






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