On May 22, 1819, Savannah departed its namesake harbor bound for Liverpool on the first transoceanic voyage by a steamship. The mark this historic event, each year we celebrate National Maritime Day to recognize the contributions of the maritime industry and country’s working waterfront. Join us for a an evening of nautical trivia, about New York Harbor and beyond, from the 18th century to the present day. Presented by our maritime mavens Stefan D-W and Andrew Gustafson, we will also be joined by some special waterfront guests.>> Continue reading
Running from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River cuts through the heart of New England. And for a period of about 40 years, a concerted effort was made to turn the rather wild and narrow river into a transportation superhighway to rival the Hudson. Between 1792 and 1835, seven canals were built to circumvent rapids, with the dream of making the river navigable as far as Barnet, Vermont, 280 miles from the Sound. In this virtual program, Andrew Gustafson, who has paddled most of the river by canoe, will trace the history of engineering and navigation, why the effort ultimately failed, and where this disused infrastructure can still be seen today.
- Farmington, Hampshire, Hampden Canals, 1828 Map (David Rumsey Map Collection)
- Connecticut River Museum
- The Connecticut River and the Valley of the Connecticut (1906)
- Boats Across New England Hills (1941)
- Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
While New Yorkers laud native son Robert Fulton as the father of the steamboat, his achievements were built upon the work of many other innovators, among them Samuel Morey. Born in Connecticut and raised in New Hampshire, Morey was a talented engineer who designed and built a series of working paddlewheel steamboats, which became a center of controversy – Morey claimed that Fulton built his steam navigation empire by stealing designs, with the help of his financial backer, the powerful Robert Livingston. In this program we will explore the contributions of Morey and others to early steamboat development, wade into this two-century-old controversy, and explore his namesake lake in Fairlee, Vermont, near where he did his early experiments.
- Samuel Morey’s first steam engine (Vermont Historical Society)
- Elizabeth Bacon Eager, “Creative Combustion: Image, Imagination and the Work of Robert Fulton” (2016)
- “The American Artist as Scientist: Constantino Brumidi’s Fresco of Robert Fulton for the United States Capitol” (The Capitol Dome, 2014)
- Greville Bathe, The Rise and Decline of the Paddle-Wheel (1962)
- William Duer, A Reply to Mr. Colden’s Vindication of the Steamboat Monopoly (1819)
- “New Attention for Obscure Inventor” (New York Times, 1991)
- Lake Morey Protective Association
Unlock the mystery of maritime navigation with Mary Habstritt of the Lilac Preservation Project. At night many of our waterways become constellations of flashing lights. These Aids to Navigation (or AtoNs) keep our marine traffic moving safely, but most of us have only the vaguest idea what they mean or what it takes to establish and maintain them. The Lilac, a steam-powered United States Lighthouse Service (later US Coast Guard) tender introduces the public to the world of AtoNs and helps us see our waterways with new insight.
Sitting at the mouth of the Hudson estuary with vast shorelines and moderate tides, New York Harbor is one of the greatest natural ports on earth, yet moving goods around the region on land has always been a challenge. This talk hosted by maritime expert Stefan Dreisbach-Williams will look at the forces that transformed New York into a dominant global port, from the mid-19th to the present, despite the fact that its geography poses huge obstacles for land-based transport by train and truck. We will look at the infrastructure and economic forces behind this paradox, and take note of places where the old technologies are still visible, and how new ones continue to develop.