Lake George Steamboat

The Lake George Steamboat Company has been transporting people on Lake George for more than 200 years.

Steamer Minne-Ha-Ha on Lake George by Seneca Ray Stoddard. Courtesy of the Folklife Center at Crandall Library.

It was ten years after Robert Fulton revealed the first commercially successful steamboat service in America before steamboat service arrived in Lake George. On April 15, 1817, the Lake George Steamboat Company was incorporated by the NYS Legislature, and later that year the James Caldwell was christened. Her engines were 3rd hand, having been taken from the sunken steamer Vermont on Lake Champlain and used on another Lake Champlain steamer before being installed on the James Caldwell. She burned mysteriously in 1821.

The James Caldwell was followed by newer steamers. The side-wheeler Mountaineer was inaugurated in 1824, and the John Jay in 1850. The first to resemble a modern steamboat was the Minnie-Ha-Ha that was launched in spring 1857. This was the last wood-burning steamer on the lake.

After the Civil War, the Steamboat Company was acquired by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Company. It served as a link connecting New York City to Canada, and had a branch that ran from Glens Falls to Lake George where visitors could stay at their lavish Fort William Henry Hotel or continue to Lake Champlain by steamer. They successfully operated the passenger boat for 68 years until the Great Depression and World War II put an end to the steamer business and the hotel.

After World War II, Captain Wilber Dow acquired the company. He renovated the remaining ship named Mohican in 1947, converted a World War II vessel and renamed it Ticonderoga in 1950, and built the steel pier in 1954. He built the sternwheeler Minne-Ha-Ha in 1969 and placed the Lac du Saint Sacrement in service in 1989. The company continues to be operated by the Dow family.

 

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