Steamboats on Long Island Sound
After the invention of the steamboat revolutionized travel, the waters around Long Island saw many sidewheel paddle steamboats transport both goods and people. With steam power, transportation companies could rely on a dependable schedule. This was particularly important with the coming of the railroads. Before bridges were built over the rivers of Connecticut, the fastest way for travelers to reach Boston was to travel by water to places in Connecticut like Stonington and connect to the train to Boston. This was a fast, reliable service promoted by pioneers of the transportation industry such as Cornelius Vanderbilt. Sadly, however, such travel on Long Island Sound could also have tragic consequences, as several Currier & Ives lithographs in this exhibition illustrate.
The coming of the railroad to Greenport in 1844 facilitated travel to eastern Long Island. However, it was often a hot and dusty journey. In the latter part of the century, companies such as the Montauk Steamboat Company began to offer a regular service from New York to the East End of Long Island. This coincided with the increasing desire of city dwellers to escape the heat of the city and find a refuge in a bucolic spot such as Oysterponds or Shelter Island. The schedule of stops is spelled out in the various promotional materials on view in the exhibition. The main selling point for the steamboat companies was that travelers could escape the city the minute they stepped on board the comfortable boats.
One of the destinations in Orient would have been the building you are now in –Village House. After a pleasant voyage, travelers staying here would have had but a short walk from the wharf to their lodgings. Village House was run as a popular boarding house by Mrs. Jeremiah Vail from 1880 to 1897. The Oysterponds Historical Society is in the process of restoring the ground floor to the way it was in Mrs. Vail’s time.
A sample from the exhibition