The Badger series
The First of the Mohicans
First published in The Freeman’s Journal on March 24, 1976
“If at first you don’t get it right,” many Cooperstonians must have said as they left the lakeside without seeing the Mohican’s scheduled launch. They tried again, and on July 4, 1905, the good ship Mohican began its long career on Lake Otsego. The following reports from this year’s Freeman’s Journal tell the story:
June 29, 1905: Miss Marie Anheuser Busch at Christen Boat Thursday.
“On Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m., the Otsego Lake Transit Co.’s new Mohican boat will make its first dip in the waters of Lake Otsego. As soon as the boat is free to move, Miss Marie Anheuser-Busch, daughter of August A. Busch and granddaughter of Adolphus Busch, will christen it with champagne and the words “I baptize you Mohican”. The public is cordially invited to attend the ceremony, which will take place at the Corporation wharf.
July 6, 1905: “The Great Lake Otsego Steamer Has a Capacity of Carrying Four Hundred Persons – Made her initial voyage July 4th. »
“The Mohican is launched – at around 1.40 a.m. on Saturday afternoon, in response to the coaxing of two screw jacks placed against the bearings on either side, the large boat glided gracefully over the tracks and kissed the waters of the lake Otsego. There was a strong splash and the craft moved away about 50 feet, returning the line it was tied with to its mooring at Cooperstown wharf. As he headed for the water, Miss Osborne, the builder’s daughter, broke a bottle of wine on the bow and uttered the words, “I christen you Mohican.”
“Welcomed by all Lake Otsego patrons, the large excursion steamer seemed reluctant to take its first dive. The launch had been announced to take place at 4 a.m. on Thursday, and by then the Lakeside was packed. It was the first really beautiful day for several and the people of the village and the summer boarders had come out in large numbers. At the front of the boat, Marie Anheuser-Busch, a charming young girl of about 12 summers, daughter of August A. Busch and granddaughter of Adolphus Busch, who recently purchased the magnificent estate adjoining Three Mile Point , held the bottle of wine in ready to christen the Mohican. Miss Busch, who is a remarkably pretty little girl of the brunette type, wore a fresh white dress, with matching hat, shoes and stockings. Her hat was adorned with daisies. Also in the boat were about 75 other people, including members of the Busch family, village administrators, editors, clergy and so on, along with their wives and families. The group was there, helping with all their might to make the occasion successful and enjoyable. Even the village popcorn stand was not absent.
“For two hours every known device was used to slide the Steamboat down the tracks, but to no avail. She refused to budge! The band played ‘Slide, Kelly, Slide’, ‘Under the’ Anheuser-Busch and, finally, “We Won’t Go Home Until Morning”. At 6 a.m. the crowd began to thin, and just after the town clock had struck supper-time the ladies and their retinues began to descend the flimsy ladder by which they had reached the bridge of the boat two hours earlier. “The Otsego Farmer”, containing the full story of the launch, was recalled from the local post office.
“On Friday the routes got a steeper bank and fat so Saturday’s effort was successful. However, it did not take place until several hours after the scheduled time.
“The Mohican makes a nice appearance in the water. It is a double-deck steamer 80 feet long and 19 feet wide. It will be lit by electricity and will have all modern sanitary comforts. A searchlight will be operated from the upper deck. Steamboat inspectors were here Friday and gave her a load capacity of 400. Her speed is about 12 miles per hour. Its cost was between $7,000. and $8,000.
“The Mohican made a test trip on Monday and the 14th made 2 excursion trips, carrying almost 200 each time.
The owner and passengers were very pleased with her. After some additional paint work, she will make three trips around the lake each weekday, unless she is transferred to a special excursion service, where she will be replaced in the regular trip by another boat.
“Mabel Coburn and Pathfinder, the other two Otsego Lake Transit Co. steamers, are licensed to carry 95 and 90 passengers.”
“Lake Otsego needs a proper tour boat since old Natty Bumppo was taken out of service five or six years ago. Old Natty had a 90 foot keel, ten feet longer than the Mohican. It was a slow, cumbersome side-wheeler, but for 30 years it was the only great tour boat. Its carrying capacity was not as great as that of the Mohican, although the steamship inspection system was not then as rigid as it is today. The Natty Bumppo was launched on July 4, 1871. A year later, on July 11, 1872, it burned to the water’s edge. After being rebuilt, she was launched again in November 1872.”
“The first steamboat on Lake Otsego was the Mary Boden, launched by Captain DB Boden in 1869.”