Page:From canoe to tunnel.djvu/9

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


decidedly high. For example an ordinary foot passenger was charged 9 pence; a coach or covered wagon 8 shillings; a horse 1 shilling 9 pence. Almost everything that can be thought of is specified; thus a feather bed is rated at 6 pence; a common chair 1 penny; a mahogany chair 2 pence; a chest of tea two shillings.

Until 1804 the ferry and the adjoining land was owned by Cornelius Van Vorst. In 1804 the "Associates of the Jersey Company" were incorporated and the ferry conveyed to them. In the same year Joseph Lyon of Elizabethport leased the ferry, and the landing place was moved to a point lying between York and Grand streets.

Up to this time the ferry accommodations consisted of a few rowboats with two oarsmen to each and a few extra oars which the passengers were expected to use if they were in a hurry to cross. There were also two periaugers which were used when the wind was good, or when it was necessary to take a horse and carriage. With a favorable wind the passage could be made in half an hour, but sometimes it took three hours to cross.

The success of Fulton's "Clermont" in 1807, however, suggested the use of steam for ferry boats; and in 1809 Elisha Boudinot, General Cummings and a number of other Newark men subscribed $50,000 to start a steam ferry, and Fulton was asked to construct a boat suitable for such a purpose. In March, 1811, they obtained a lease of the ferry and the privilege of landing on the New York side.

In the meantime John Stevens of Hoboken commenced the construction of a steam ferry boat for the Hoboken ferry and succeeded in completing it by October, 1811, nearly a year before Fulton's boat was used on the Paulus Hook Ferry. The honor of putting in operation the first steam ferry boat therefore belongs to John Stevens; but having won the credit he seems to have abandoned the use of steam after a short period and gone back to the old fashioned horse boat.

Fulton had ordered two boats to be built by Charles Brown, who had constructed the Clermont, and on July 2, 1812, one of them, named the "Jersey," was completed and put in operation. Some alterations were found to be necessary, however, and it was not until July 17 that the regular trips were begun. To celebrate the event an entertainment was given at Lyon's tavern in Jersey City to the Mayor and Common Council of New York City and a number of other prominent guests. A passenger who made the trip on the first day writes as follows: "I crossed the North River yesterday in the Steam Boat with my family in my carriage, without alighting therefrom, in fourteen minutes with an immense crowd of passengers. I cannot express to you how much the public mind appeared to be gratified at finding so large and so safe a machine going so well. On both shores were thousands of people viewing the pleasing object."

Fulton's description of the boat is as follows: "She is built of two boats, each ten feet beam, eighty feet long, and five feet deep

5