Golden Jubilee

In 1910, newspapers began to celebrate the “Golden Jubilee” of the Mary Powell, as she was ordered in 1860 and launched in 1861. At the same time, rumors began to swirl that she would be taken out of service and “retired.” In early August, the crosshead on her walking beam snapped, and Captain Anderson took her out of commission for repairs. That fall, Captain Anderson admitted that the Powell was getting crowded with use, and that a new boat might need to be constructed for the Kingston to New York route.

In August of 1910, the Kingston Daily Freeman published a length article entitled, “A Steamboat’s 50 Golden Years,” which cataloged the general history of the Mary Powell and the Anderson family. It closed with the following,

“I doubt whether any boat elsewhere in the world can show so wonderful a record for speed, safety, fidelity to schedule and freedom from accident as the boat that we have known for years as the "Queen of the Hudson."  During the fifty years that she has been upon the river she must have travelled more than fifty times the distance around the globe at the equator and has carried more than six and a half million passengers without causing the death of one.  When the boat shall have rounded out her fifty years the present captain will have been with her as commanding officer for twenty-five years.  During all the time that she has been running it has become necessary to discharge but one man regularly enrolled among her crew, every man on board today having either worked his way up from the deck to something higher or being in the best place now that time has shown him fitted for filling.”

On May 16, 1911, Captain A. Eltinge Anderson wrote to the Kingston Daily Freeman to correct a rumor, “We wish to contradict the unfounded rumor, which has been stated as fact, without our authorization or knowledge, that the famous steamer Mary Powell was to be withdrawn from the Hudson after the present season. This is absolutely false, as the Mary Powell will not be withdrawn.” Anderson continued, discussing the recent improvements, claiming “There is hardly a plank of the original boat now in the Mary Powell,” and that she would continue to “ply the Hudson river for many years to come.”

In the fall of 1912, the magazine Travel printed an article entitled, “Tradition and a Steamboat,” which highlighted the Mary Powell. Reprinted in both the Kingston Daily Freeman, and the Rockland County Journal, the article lionized the Powell and her role in history.

“Hudson river steamboat men estimate that one out of four of every full-grown resident of the United States has ridden on that stream at some time or other, and that the other three are looking hungrily forward to the privilege. It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that three out of every four persons who have ever sailed up or down the noble Hudson have ridden on her famous steamboat, the Mary Powell.”

The article went on to place the Mary Powell, with some historical errors, in the pantheon of American history and the hearts of Hudson Valley residents:

“The Powell is steeped in traditions. She never turns a paddlewheel on Sundays and liquors of any sort are not sold aboard her. She runs through a land which gives peculiar honor to traditions of every sort, and the Mary Powell has long been the finest of these. To the good old-fashioned folk of Orange and Ulster counties she is something more than a mere steamboat – part and parcel of their very lives. Their daddies and their grand daddies traveled upon her and some of those grandfathers can tell you of the day that General Grant greeted the Grand Duke Alex's at her broad gangway and escorted him to West Point, For West Point has been part of history making for the Mary Powell; West Point, whose gray-coated classes of young soldiers in the making have come and gone on her since Civil War days, just as the classes of girls at the institution that Matthew Vassar established long years ago at Poughkeepsie have considered riding upon the staunch day boat a part of their college lives. For all of these, as well as for the older settlers of the mid-Hudson valley, the melodious bell of the Mary Powell has not rung in vain as season after season she has swung into landing after landing in her ninety mile voyage up and down the most beautiful section of the Hudson.”

The Mary Powell had been cemented in the hearts and minds of Hudson Valley residents and millions of others as the Hudson River icon.

Becoming Famous
Golden Jubilee