July 1989

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The Mary Bell

The Queen of Lake Keuka

Hammondsport Herald, Wed., May 11, 1892

The Launching of the Mary Bell

The long anticipated event, the launching of the new steel steamer, Mary Bell, was witnessed on Saturday last, by as many as 5000 people. The crowd began pouring in from every direction long before noon, the most of whom were entertained throughout the day by the inspection of the beautiful new vessel, in her dazzling array of flags of the various nations floating to the breeze.


Shortly after four o'clock a small party of invited guests stepped aboard the new steamer, now the center of attention of the thousands of spectators. Judge Hanford Strouble of Penn Yan advanced to the bow and delivered a very pleasing address, which was attentively listened to by all within hearing of his voice. He referred to the many deeds of valor in the world's history enacted on board of vessels. He reviewed the history of steamboating on Lake Keuka, dwelling particularly upon the sharp competition of the past few years, now happily ended. Venice, he said, the theme of the poet and the wonder of the traveler, owed its fame to its boats. The Rhine, celebrated for its many castles, and the Hudson, famous for its historic residences and romantic scenery, were both indebted to the boats for their fame. Mr. Strouble struck the popular chord when he said that if we had more men like Mr. Drake, we should have to enlarge the lake. The Halsey, Urbana, Holmes, Lulu and West Branch constituted a magnificent fleet, but where are they now in comparison with the Mary Bell, the Queen of the Lake. Mr. Strouble said that the people of Penn Yan are as much interested in this new boat as you of Hammondsport. This makes us neighbors but one hour apart. You should be proud of this boat. Every person on Lake Keuka would be benefitted by this enterprise, consequently all were proud of it. In closing Judge Strouble wished success to the man who had undertaken this enterprise and expressed confidence that he never would be disappointed in the Mary Bell.

As soon as the speaker had finished, Mrs. H. S. Stebbins, escorted by D. C. Bauder, stepped forward, bearing a bottle of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company's Great Western champagne, gaily decked in a cluster of red, white and blue ribbons, which she broke over the bows of the vessel with the words,

"I CHRISTEN THEE, MARY BELL," and at just one minute before five o'clock the lashings were severed, and the gallant craft started on its downward course to the water, amid the cheers of the crowd and the screeching of the many steamboat whistles. The flight was retarded by the cooling of the heated grease and soft soap, with which the ways were covered, in an unavoidable delay awaiting the arrival of the steamer Halsey, that her crowd of passengers might see the launching, and instead of rushing madly into the water as was anticipated, the handsome creature stuck on her timbers after having gone about half her length. It needed considerable persuasion to coax her from her resting place, and finally at about 7:30, aided by the pulling of the Urbana and the vigorous working of jack screws at the bows, she slipped into the water, where she floats as gracefully as a swan.

The Mary Bell was built for the Lake Keuka Navigation Company by the UNION DRY DOCK COMPANY of Buffalo, under the direction of the superintendent, Edward Gaskin, who has grown up in the company's service and who has full charge of their extensive ship yards in the above city. In this work he has been ably asssisted by Henry Selway, one of their most trusted workmen, acting in the capacity of foreman, and George Chase, a ship carpenter of skill and exactness. The contract for the boilers and engines was sub-let to the Cowles Engineering Company of Brooklyn, whose workmen are in charge of their Superintendent, Mr. Lysholm, assisted by Mr. Aiken. The company is extensive manufacturers of marine boilers and engines under their own patents, and with their improved boilers, such as are being put into the Mary Bell, they have double amount of heating surface with half the weight of iron and half the amount of water, of the ordinary boilers.

THE SPEED OF THE MARY BELL, is expected to be something quite unprecedented on any of the inland lakes in this or adjoining states. The contract calls for 18 miles per hour, with a bonus of $2500 for every quarter of a mile over that amount. It is quite evident from the significant glances and winks of those in a position to know that a much higher rate of speed than that named in the contract may be looked for, perhaps 22 miles an hour. (Every) expense or labor is to be expended in making her not only very fast but very fine in every other particular. SheWILL COST FROM $45,000 TO $50,000, a handsome sum indeed, which in addition to the upwards of $100,000, which the company have invested in boats, makes Lake Keuka unrivalled in the cost and excellence of her steamboats, as she is already known far and wide to be the queen of inland lakes. The company proposes to wear these boats out, and not allow them to rust out. The present early spring service is equal to that heretofore furnished for the summer traffic and when the excursion season opens, the arrivals and departures will be much more frequent, running the full capacity of all the boats.

THE MARY BELL, is 150 feet long, overall, 20 feet, six inches beam, involving the very latest principles of boat engineering. Her hull is made of steel plates averaging one-quarter of an inch in thickness. She is furnished with two patent circulating boilers, two triple-expansion engines, of 600 horse-power, steam steering gear and twin screws. The displacement is 125 tons.

Hammondsport Herald , Wed., June 22, 1892

Trial Run of the Mary Bell

"What is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days."

Last Saturday was an ideal June day, as faultless as the beautiful new steel steamer of the Lake Keuka Navigation Company, whose trial trip occurred on that day.

The Mary Bell, whose praises have been sung far and wide since her keel was laid, on New Year's Day, lay quietly moored at the company's wharf in this place, decorated with the brilliant flags of many nations, suspended from a line strung from the tops of the flagstaffs, and a beautiful pennant of red, white and blue, bearing the name, "Mary Bell."

In her coat of pure white, from the red water-line up, this beautiful craft need only to be seen to be admired. The interior of Georgia pine, finished in natural wood, is in pleasing contrast with the exterior. The wire nettings about the first and second decks, and the brass railing about the pilot house and the directors' room, give her a very neat and elegant appearance.

At half past eleven o'clock, with about 100 invited guests on board, her moorings were loosed and she gracefully moved away amid the shouts of the crowd. The Halsey preceded her by about an half an hour, and at her side silently glided the fairy-like Madge, the private yacht of F. N. and James A. Drake of Corning.

Contrary to general expectation the event was not made the trial speed trip for a premium. The Cowles Engineering Company, the builders of the boilers and machinery, was unavoidably delayed in its work, and consequently but one boiler could be used. However, in this particular, the speed was quite satisfactory, from the fact that with 120 pounds of steam on but one boiler, fourteen miles an hour were easily made, with but 240 revolutions of the engines per minute, which fact promises not less than 20 miles an hour, with the two boilers carrying 200 pounds of steam, and the engines turning 400 revolutions per minute—the maximum calculations of the builders.

On board all were in the best of spirits and exhibited much enthusiasm in the easy motion of the fine new vessel, with its many faultless appointments. On the promenade deck at the head of the main stairway was placed a wicker canoe upon a standard, filled with ferns and daisies presented by Mrs. H. S. Stebbins, and amidships, suspended by white ribbons from the hurricane deck, was an Indian canoe filled with white roses, the gift of Mrs. C. D. Champlin.

At "Mulvaruh," the delightful home of the Boerickes, a salute of many guns was fired, which was answered by the cannon of the Madge, amid the waving of handkerchiefs from shore and boats.

As the Mary Bell gracefully steamed along, many manifestations of pleasure were observed from the residents along both shores. At the Ark a short stop was made where the new candidate for public admiration was witnessed, with exclamations of delight from hundreds who had assembled on the decks of the steamers Halsey and Holmes, the wharf of the Ark and many smaller craft on every hand.

Returning, an elaborate lunch was served upon deck by Mr. Owen of the Grove Springs House, assisted by his wife and a corps of attentive waiters. The refreshments consisted of sandwiches, salads, cold meats, ice-cream cake, and Great Western champagne.

At half past three o'clock, ere the happy company was aware of the near approaching end of their pleasant journey, Hammondsport was sighted. With the most hearty congratulations of all present to C. W. Drake, President of the Company, and H. S. Stebbins, the Manager, and, the many expressed wishes for the future success of the most magnificent steamer on the queen of the inland lakes, the guests took their departure, more than pleased with the entertainment of the day.

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