Tuesday, August 16, 2011


May 2008 - The Osborn Boat Works, ELISE SASSO:

In 1902 the Osborn Boat Works moved to Croton from Peekskill. Property was purchased at the foot of Grand Street - what is now Senasqua Park (See http://www.flickr.com/photos/22283683@N07/6048324632/in/photostream)

William R. Osborn had an exceptional reputation as a builder of steam and sail launches, sloops, sail yachts and rowboats. Osborn built boats were highly sought after, one of the most widely known was, the “Zephyr”, she was a very large 155 foot excursion boat which held 550 passengers and traveled the Hudson up and down to New York Harbor.

The “Zephyr” would pick up passengers along river towns and treat them to a picturesque steamboat outing on the Hudson River. On September 25th 1909 the lucky passengers viewed a close up of the International Fleet as it lay in New York Harbor for the first - Hudson/Fulton Celebration.

Some of Osborn’s boats were purchased by foreign countries, Cuba for one and by some South and Central American countries. Others were bought by states that wanted large lake vessels and then there were those commissioned by the United States Navy.

When Nikko Inn was a popular eating establishment in Croton, Mr. Osborn built a 30-foot gondola that cruised the Croton River. The “Mohican” constructed in 1905 was built in sections (See http://www.flickr.com/photos/22283683@N07/6048321604/in/photostream). She traveled by flat bed train to Cooperstown, NY and was reassembled on site. Her final destination was Otsego Lake where she was used as an excursion boat. She was an 85 foot double-deck steamboat with a 30 foot beam, she held 325 passengers. The "Mohican" was still running in 1930.

The “Frolic”, another famous Osborn boat was sister to three other “Frolics” built by Croton carpenters. One “Frolic” was put into service and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for use at the naval station. The last “Frolic” was built for Edward B. Osborn, William’s son. He used it for taking small excursion parties out on the Hudson. She was 75-feet in length and 26 feet at her beam. To build a boat like “Frolic” usually took three to six months with as many as 80 men doing all kinds of jobs. (See http://www.flickr.com/photos/22283683@N07/6047774741/in/photostream)

In February 1905 the Osborn Boat Works in Croton caught fire, the probable cause being the highly combustible sawdust and vapor fumes. It created a fire so hot it actually melted the windows of some of the houses on Riverside. Fortunately for the Osborn family, firemen from the Washington Engine Company were having a dance that night and were able to respond to the call quickly. It had been an extremely cold February and the ice on the river was thick and close to the shore. The firemen tried to chop holes in the ice so they could use their hand pumps to extinguish the flames. Most of the sheds burnt to the ground. Unyielding, the family started to rebuild.

The Osborn Boat Works carried on for a while but the end of the company was slowly approaching. The fast pace of changing times and railroads were closing in on the steamboat builders on the Hudson River. William R. Osborn died 1913, Charles and Edward B, Osborn took over the company. Edward died in 1917 and Charles who lived in Croton most of his life was suddenly taken by a heart attack at the Masonic Home where he was staying in Utica, NY in 1944.

E.A. Sasso


  1. My grandmother always spoke of this place very fondly.

    Elise Sasso is really missed. Her old Croton articles are so good.

  2. We're just very lucky to have such an active historical society,and people who really care about preserving Croton.

  3. Kind of sad to hear about the company's demise.