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Hoboken Public Bath: 1905

Hoboken Public Bath: 1905

1905. "Holland America line piers, Hoboken, N.J." Points of interest include the Hoboken Public Bath at center and S.S. Potsdam. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Wireless Technology

The Potsdam's wireless antenna was strung from the stack to aft. State of the art for its day.

Remains of the Day

The remains of the William F. Romer can barely be seen at low tide in the cove formed by Eves Point at the end of Emerick Road, on the west bank of the Hudson (now part of Bristol Beach State Park), just over a mile up river from the Village of Saugerties.

More visible is the better known M. Martin (1863-1918, scrapped 1920), named for Milton Martin, a prosperous Hudson merchant and banker. She was built at Jersey City for the Romer & Tremper Steamboat Company to run day passengers and freight from Catskill to Albany. Pressed into service during the Civil War, she became known as the Union Army's "greyhound" (not to be confused with the Union troop transport Greyhound, which was sunk by a Confederate "coal torpedo"). She served as General Grant's personal dispatch boat on the Chesapeake Bay, and carried messages and troops across the bay and river.

Early in 1865 the Confederate peace commissioners, led by the Vice-President of the Confederacy Alexander H. Stephens, were quartered for several days as guests (without guards) on board the M. Martin at City Point, while they waited to negotiate terms of peace with someone that President Lincoln would designate for what became known as the Hampton Roads Conference. The conference, which ended in failure, was held on the River Queen and the Union was represented by Lincoln himself.

Click on the photo to enlarge.


The steamboat

at the upper right is the William F. Romer, launched in June 1881 by the Skinner Shipbuilding & Drydock Company at Baltimore for the Weems Steamboat Company as the Mason L. Weems. It operated between Baltimore and Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River in the passenger and freight trade, one of the largest and fastest in that trade at the time. In 1890 Weems sold the vessel to Romer & Tremer Steamboat Company which had taken over the Cornell Steamboat Company route between Rondout and New York City on the Hudson and was renamed Willliam F. Romer. In 1899 Romer & Tremer sold out to the Central Hudson Steamboat Company and the Romer entered that firm's employment. It ran until the fall of 1918 when laid up at Newburgh. In 1920 the vessel was dismantled there and its hull sold to a brick manufacturer at Eavesport who intended to use the hull as a dock facing. That was never done, and the Romer's remains can still be seen there.

The Potsdam, built at Hamburg in 1900 by Blohm & Voss, became the Stockholm of the Swedish-American line in 1915 and was converted into the Norwegian whale factory ship Solglimt in 1928 and served as such until seized by Germany in 1940 and transferred to the German Navy, renamed Sonderburg. It was sunk as a blockade ship at Cherbourg, France, 29 June 1944 and destroyed by British bombing soon after. Its remains were raised in 1947 and broken up at England.

The Oar Weathervane

This image is rich in salubrious period nautical detail.

The bowsprits in the right foreground belong to Hudson River Sloops, of which the late Pete Seeger's Clearwater is a replica. These sailed up and down the Hudson carrying bluestone, hay for the city's horses, and, especially, bricks from the many brickworks of the Hudson valley.

The steam yacht in the left foreground has beautiful flowing lines and a clipper bow. Modern yachts are clu8nky in comparison!

The second building has a charming weathervane shaped like an oar. It must be a rowing club!

The Uneeda Biscuit factory on the Manhattan shore in the left background later became part of Nabisco. Uneeda biscuits, which lasted until about a decade ago, were like thick matzos or unsalted saltines; basically "hardtack". Among other things, they could be used to make a truly excellent poultry stuffing.

The real prize might be the side-wheel steamboat in the right background. Can't make out her entire name: Looks like William F. Bower or Rower. Have not been able to find a reference.

The pier to which the S.S. Potsdam is tied has some sort of cargo rigging strung between heavy poles. It would be interesting to learn how this worked!


Over yonder across the North River (well, ok, Hudson River), is the Uneeda Biscuit bakery on the west side of Manhattan. Uneeda Biscuit later became part of National Biscuit Company, aka NABISCO.

SS Potsdam sailed from Rotterdam

The "NASM" on the flag you see on the mast stands for "Nederlandsche-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij" or "Netherlands-American Steamship Company", the original Dutch name for the company. Like many other passenger ship lines, it was assimilated by the cruise line Borg -- Carnival Cruise Lines -- and continues zombie like as the "Holland America Line". The ship itself ended up being scuttled in the Cherbourg harbor by the Germans in 1944.

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