National Geographic : 1962 Mar
devil in a sawmill." Fulton, said his critics, had a notion he could go "to Albany by tea kettle." And even when he did it, they dis missed his feat as a freak: Sails were better and always would be. Teapots Take Over the River But the side-wheelers were soon outstrip ping the fastest sloops. In time they became the floating palaces of the Hudson, boasting plush carpeting, crystal chandeliers, private parlors, and great dining salons. Their steam calliopes made the deep gorge of the High lands resound with "The Belle of Mohawk 384 Vale" and "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean." Queen of the fleet after the Civil War was the Mary Powell. She had three hundred feet of clean, sweet lines and was the fastest thing on the Hudson. Rival captains claimed her builders must have mixed whale's grease in her paint to make her slip so easily through the water. Competition became intense. The passen ger fare between New York and Albany dropped to ten cents. Boats began racing one another as speed rivalry grew. Steam gauges were plugged, safety valves were tied down - and boilers exploded.