The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), April 14, 1858

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Oswego And Its Business.

Steam Tugs

Ere leaving our Harbor to visit more distant business localities, we must not omit to notice the little Tug Steamers which no-a-days overcome the adverse winds which formerly rendered the ingress and egress of our harbors so depended upon their fitful vagaries. By their valuable assistance, let AEolus come from what point he may list, those energetic little ushers can either introduce or dismiss any craft which may honor us with a visit.

Constantly flitting through the harbor, they give life and animation to the scene, and like eccentric comets, traverse the watery expanse in apparently erratic course, followed by their dense and murky train, Still suddenly we see them grapple with some giant monster of the deep, to which they at once attach themselves., and lead their huge prisoner either to its prepared berth, or guide it safely into the expanded waters of the Lake.

Decked with their bright flags, and constantly passing and repassing on the basin, in the interior of our harbor, they look like bright water butterflies, playing among the dark masses of our marine, or even more like bees gathering their store of honey from every craft they come in contact with. With the well bred courtesy of the old landlord, they are ever ready to welcome the coming, or to speed the parting guest.

Yet is their diligence and utility not confined solely to basking in the summer sun, for the gales of Fall, and storms of winter, they are equally ready to plunge into the boiling surf, and, as they proved last year, to rescue from destruction the gallant crafts which the rude tempest in its fury may tear from their insecure moorings, and hurry, with ungoverned speed, from harbor safety into open danger.

They are a small, but beautiful and useful little fleet, yet small as they are they employ a capital little short of $100,000.

The first which was launched upon our harbor was the O.S. Howard, started by two of our most enterprising business men, Messrs.. Mattoon & Baker. Its success immediately induced our indefatigable citizen, Mr. P. P. Wright, who is now completely identified with this branch our business, in connection with Mr. Dobbie, to build the N. Robins, and afterwards the Samuel S. Schuyler, built by Mr. Wright alone. This accommodation not proving sufficient for our increasing trade and the capacities of their engines not being deemed sufficient, led to the building of our present establishment in that line, which is fully adequate to the requirements of the port, and consists of the:

Robert Reed, 70 horsepower; H. Perry, Jr., 140 horsepower - owned by P.P. Wright.

A. S. Page, 160 horse power; Wm. Morgan, 140 do; J.H. Bloore 70 do - owned by Thomas Dobbie.

A.F. Smith, 80 horsepower - owned by M. Hennessey.

These steam tugs consume collectively about 300 tons of coal per month, and give constant employment to between 30 and 40 hands. Their original cost we believe to have been on the average of about $6,000, and their bustling activity as well as the mine of wealth they have proved to their owners, may be estimated from the subjoined statistics, most of those vessels having been towed in and out of the harbor by these "things of life." The vast commercial business of Oswego may also be seen at a glance.

Comparative statement of the number of vessels, tonnage and crews, arrived at the Port of Oswego for a series of years:


Vessels owned in Oswego in 1856: - Steamers 2, Steam Tugs 4, Propellers 1, Barques 3, Brigs 7, Schooners 85. In 1832 Oswego owned 7 or 8 vessels; in 1840, 64; and in 1856 102. With this vast increase the steam tugs have played an active and prominent part, always making the most smoke, the greatest bustle, and by no means the least money.

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Date of Original:
April 14, 1858
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.45535 Longitude: -76.5105
Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Oswego Commercial Times (Oswego, NY), April 14, 1858