Steamboats

Posted on May 10, 2016

Image
Schroeppels Bridge 4 14 2016

REMEMBERING CLAY

Steamboats on Oneida Lake and Oneida River*

The Oneida Lake and River Steamboat Co. began with the launch of the steamboat OSWEGO on November 1, 1849 to run the Oneida River from Three Rivers Point to Caughdenoy. The ONEIDA was eased into the river four days later to pull barges down Oneida Lake from Fish Creek to Brewerton. The ONONDAGA went into service in 1850 to handle the river between Three Rivers Point and the Oak Orchard Lock. The MADISON followed in 1851 as an aid to the Oneida on the lake. The fleet was built to pull barges and canal boats from the mouth of Fish Creek (east of Oneida Lake) down the Oneida and Oswego Rivers to Three Rivers Point for a charge of $10 for the haul – a 35 mile trip. The barges were towed in relays. This cut two whole days off the trip from New York City to Oswego by way of Syracuse and the Erie Canal. The OSWEGO (longest survivor of the fleet) on her first trip down the river 156 years ago an unexpected obstacle below the Oak Orchard Lock (remains can still be seen to this day). The Schroeppel Bridge had no draw gate. Captain Calvin Yeoman took his steamer back upriver but left two hands behind to cut through the offending bridge. However, farmers showed up with pitchforks and horsewhips and drove off the two ax men. Three days later the steamer returned with a tow of boats. The crew chopped through the bridge and proceeded around Horseshoe Island to Three Rivers Point. The next day on their return trip, they found the farmers had repaired the span. Captain Yeoman ordered a battering ram rigged to the bow of his steamer and pounded away until the center section gave way. A draw bridge was immediately built This was the beginning of the short life of the Oneida Lake and River Steamboat Co. The widening and deepening of the Erie Canal ended it. The first to go was the ONEIDA in 1860. It was hauled ashore and made into a chicken coop, the motor sold for junk in Syracuse. The ONONDAGA and MADISON were partially dismantled. The ONONDAGA was renamed the FRANK CARTER but bad luck with fires caused her to be junked in 1881. The MADISON renamed the MADISON COUNTY lasted about as long. The OSWEGO kept on chugging. She was renamed the MANHATTAN on July 25, 1878 and steamed around Oneida Lake with excursionists. She enjoyed a gay life taking groups on picnics to North Bay. Churches, schools and fraternal groups hired her out. Once a group from Brewerton hired her for a funeral. Fishermen would charter her for several days of fishing on Oneida Lake. Because inspections were not required in those days, she slowly deteriorated. On one of her final passenger trips from Caughdenoy to Three Rivers for the annual Farmers’ picnic, she hit the river bank on her return trip. She made it back on a single paddle. In 1890, efforts were made to repair her. However, her upper works and the hull above water were sold for firewood; the pilot house was used as a well house until it was chopped for firewood. The engine was junked in Syracuse; the bell was used on a firehouse in Caughdenoy until it burned down and the bell given to the widow of the first captain of the steamer. Some say the ghosts of the steamer fleet still make their way along the route from Fish Creek to Three Rivers Point. Do the residents along the water hear them? *Information from old timers and an old manuscript – author unknown. Dorothy Heller, Historian

Other
Remember Clay Stories

Image
Immanuel Church Groundbreaking

Immanuel Lutheran Church Groundbreaking

Remembering Clay | Nov 6, 2015

REMEMBERING CLAY
Immanuel Lutheran Church Groundbreaking

Image
Ek039

Susan Avery Bick Remembers Life on Buckley Road

Remembering Clay | May 1, 2012

Just a couple weeks ago, I had the great fortune to come into possession of an original manuscript written by Susan Avery Bick, which she completed just a few months before she passed away entitled “When It Was Country”* This and many…

Hiram Sharp

Remembering Clay | Aug 27, 2014

Hiram Sharp: The Life Adventure of a Local Clay Boy

Influence of Natives - Part II

Remembering Clay | Nov 17, 2018

REMEMBERING CLAY

Clay Settlers-Influence of Natives (Part II)