L.I.R.R. Went to Sea in 1899

Footnotes to Long Island History

LIRR went to Sea in 1899


Thomas R. Bayles

       Part of the plan of the officers of the Long Island Rail Road for the development of Long Island, around the turn of the century was the fitting out of a fleet of fast steamboats  to run between New York city and eastern ports of Long Island.

       The Montauk steamboat company was incorporated in1899, with William H. Baldwin as president and Frank E. Haff as Secretary treasurer. Soon after its organization this company purchased the steamboats Montauk and Shinnecock, and later the Nantasket, Orient and Long Island.

       The Shinnecock, the largest of the fleet was 249 feet long and had 84 staterooms. She was a new boat with 2,500 horsepower engines and a speed of 17 miles an hour. The cost of this boat was $200,000. The Montauk, a sister ship to the Shinnecock, had a length of 184 feet with 1,500 horse power engines making a speed of 15 miles an hour. This ship cost  $125,000.

       The Shinnecock and Montauk ran between Pier 13, East river, New York, and Orient Point, Shelter Island, Greenport, Sag Harbor and Block Island. Each boat ran from New York on Alternate days, providing a daily service.

       The Nantasket was 184 feet long and made 18 miles an hour. She was put on the route between Roslyn, Sea Cliff, Glen cove, Great Neck and New York city.

      The Orient was 152 feet in length with 900 horse power engines making 15 miles per hour. She was put on the route between Sag Harbor, Greenport, Orient and New London.

       The steamboat Nassau was run during the summer season between Pier 13 and Long Island city, connecting there with the Long Island trains to eastern Long Island .

       It was the intention of the Long Island Rail Road to build up a water service to eastern Long Island superior to that ever before serving Long Island.

       Captain David Van Cleaf, the superintendent of the Montauk Steamboat company, was an experienced sea captain and had followed the sea since he was 17 years old. He had been engaged mostly in the coasting trade.

       Captain Abram Mitchell, master of the Shinnecock, was a native of Block Island. Captain J. W. Burns of the Montauk had commanded a fishing steamer. Captain T. Edward Burns brother of the captain of the Montauk was master of the Orient. Captain C. M. Bunce, who had charge of the Nantasket was a native of cold spring harbor and had been engaged during his early life on a coasting vessel. These men were al native Long Islanders and typical of the old Long Island salt. A Picturesqua type that has all but passed from the picture.

      The routes followed by these steamers were among the most attractive along the Atlantic coast, especially that covered by the Shinnecock and Montauk from New York to Block island. On a hot summer afternoon the voyage up the east river and over the broad Long Island sound, through Plum gut and Peconic bay and then over the Atlantic to Block island was a cool and invigorating trip.


Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Manitowoc Public School District