10. The Hudson River Was Once Dominated by Sloops
The Clearwater Hudson River Sloop
Before the advent of Robert Fulton’s steamships, sloops — single-mast sailing boats — were the main method of transport for cargo like cement and ice in the 18th and 19th centuries. Derived from Dutch and British sloops, these vessels were specifically designed for the Hudson River. Given the right wind conditions, they could easily complete the trip from Albany to New York City at a much faster speed than rival steamships.
Although steamships would eventually become more popular, the legacy of the sloop is not forgotten. In 1966, folk music legend and environmental activist Pete Seeger set out to build a “majestic replica” of the Hudson River’s iconic sloops. Distraught over the polluted condition of the waterway, he was determined to use the vessel in a preservation effort that would help others recognize the beauty of the river.
Thus, the Clearwater was born. In 1969, the 106-foot vessel embarked on her maiden voyage from the Harvey Gamage shipyard in South Bristol, Maine. She sailed to South Street Seaport, and then made her home on the Hudson River. Today, the boat, renovated now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, serves as a moveable classroom, laboratory, stage and forum; from April through October, it sets sail from a variety of docks from Albany to New York City. The ship was renovated in Kingston.