The boat rides start at 11 a.m. and run to 5 p.m.; the puppet show starts at 1:30. Admission is $10 per family of five or $4 per person, which includes admission to the Museum and its current exhibition, “The Face of Work in the Hudson Valley.” Another permanent attraction that the kids won’t want to miss is the mock-up of a steamship containing a real steam engine, on the waterfront side of the Museum.
If you really want to learn about steamboats, however, it’s essential to return the following day, August 7, for William Ewen’s lecture, part of the Museum’s “Follow the River” series and held at 4 p.m. Ewen, a maritime historian and artist who grew up on Hastings-on-Hudson, has just written a book for Acadia Publishing titled Steamboats on the Hudson River, which contains never-before-seen images of commercial steamboats and fascinating views of the ports that they visited. Ewen himself rode many of the steamers and talked with several of the old salts who had worked on the boats and the river; he also knows how to tell a story, having been lecturing on cruise ships since 1995.
Ewen makes the case that the Hudson River was the cradle of American steamboating: It’s where Robert Fulton’s first primitive-but-successful experiment made its debut. Every type of steamboat, from palatial 400-foot sidewheelers to small but rugged freight boats, plied its waters, thus becoming representative of the steam-powered craft that served communities throughout North America.
Two weeks later, the Maritime Museum is hosting another event, the Antique and Classic Boats Show, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, August 20 and 21. The event attracts dozens of historic small yachts and cruisers, many of which will participate in a competition held by the Antique and Classic Boat Society on Saturday, followed by a celebratory dinner at Rosita’s. The public is invited to ogle the polished mahogany decks and cabins, brass fittings and svelte lines of the vintage boats, with the climax happening on Sunday at noon, when a boat parade gets underway. The Museum is offering free admission on Saturday to any resident of Dutchess and Columbia Counties as well as anyone with a ticket stub from the Lark ferry, which travels between Kingston and Rhinecliff.
The Museum is also hosting a maritime film series on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the schedule is as follows: August 10, The Old Man and the Sea, with Spencer Tracy; August 27, The African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn; August 24, Billy Budd, with Robert Ryan, Peter Ustinov and Terence Stamp; and August 31, The Caine Mutiny, with Humphrey Bogart. The Hudson River Maritime Museum is located on the Rondout waterfront in Kingston.