The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Days of First Steamer From City To Massena Are Now Recalled
Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat (Ogdensburg, NY), 10 Mar 1927

Full Text
Days of First Steamer From City To Massena Are Now Recalled
William and John Cline of Massena Builders of Craft in 1856 - Succeeded by Steamer Enterprise, Which After Busy Trip, Burned in 1875 - An Interesting Story of Navigation on the St. Lawrence in the Yesteryears

The reopening of navigation soon on the St. Lawrence recalls the first boat to carry freight from Ogdensburg to docks along the river between here and Massena.

The craft was a sail boat built by William and John Cline of Massena in 1856 at Cline's bay at the foot of Long Sault island. The lumber was milled in their own sawmill and power for the craft was obtained by a wheel projecting into the water, the current propelling the boat. With plenty of wind, the boat moved majestically up the stream. At other times, heavy oars were utilized to carry the ship to its destination. In this manner, freight was delivered from Ogdensburg to the many docks between that city and Dodge's Landing, which is three miles north of Massena.

Salvage Lumber

In 1896[sic] the business outgrew the facilities and the Clines decided to build a steamboat. They obtained the timber in a novel way, salvaging it from the bottom of the river. Pieces of rafts which had broken loose and sunk while logs becoming waterlogged would also find their way to the bottom of the river. In summer the Clines would find them and mark them. When the river became a frozen mass, they would cut holes in the ice, draw out the timber, and haul them to their sawmill in Massena. After being milled, they would be dragged back over the ice to Cline's bay where in steaming vats the timber would be shaped for the frame work of the craft. Construction of the boat was started in April and completed in September. James McConkey, a shipbuilder of this city, assisted in constructing the craft. Engineer Nash of Morrisburg installed the boiler and the engine which was bought in Buffalo. Nash remained on the boat the first season.

Was 75 by 30 Feet.

The craft was named the Enterprise and measured 75 feet long with a 30 foot beam, square stern and a single screw propeller. The boat had been known to carry 250 bushels of wheat in the hold, several tons of freight on the deck as well as 25 passengers. It would also carry 60 passengers at times.

Wood was used as fuel which was cut at Brasher flats, six or eight miles away and hauled to the docks. Trips In the summer were, made about three times a week beginning April 1st and ending November 30. The boat would start from Dodge's Landing, go to Ogdensburg, stopping at Bradfords, Wilsons, Louisville Landing, down the South Sault to Hogansburg, Bombay, Dundee and Cornwall.

From that point the ship would proceed around the rapids at Dodge's Landing. In good weather the trip could be made in about 12 hours. The crew comprised Captain William Cllne, Pilot John Cline, an engineer, a cook and two deckhands.

One Saturday evening in 1875 after the boat had been put up for the night, fire broke out on the ship and had advanced when discovered to such a stage that saving it was impossible. Fearing the boiler would burst and blow up the dock, the lines were cut and the burning ship allowed to drift down stream. It floated some distance, grounded and burned to the water's edge. It was not rebuilt and the freight business passed into other hands.

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Date of Publication:
10 Mar 1927
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  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 44.9599232337584 Longitude: -74.9399757385254
Lyall Manson
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Days of First Steamer From City To Massena Are Now Recalled