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Kennebec Steamboat Company (1835-1901) | Maine Maritime Museum Manuscript Collection Online Catalog

Name: Kennebec Steamboat Company (1835-1901)

Historical Note:

The Kennebec and Boston Steam Navigation Company (a stock company) was formed in Gardiner, 1835-1836. The steamer the New England (Sidewheel steamer) was purchased by them to run from Gardiner to Boston. Captain Kimball was shipmaster of the New England (Sidewheel steamer) while young Captain Jason Collins was the fireman. This Gardiner to Boston course became known as the Kennebec to Boston river run.  Passengers began to be transported along this route in 1841.

The Kennebec and Boston Steamboat Company was formed by Gardiner and Hallowell residents in 1857. Captain Collins was part owner and director of the Kennebec Steamboat Company.  The Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) was their first steamer.  Captain Collins ran the Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer, passenger), Star of the East (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) and the Kennebec (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) for the company. Steamboats traveled to and from Bath, Richmond, Gardiner, Augusta, Portland, Hallowell and Boston. Passengers voyaged on vessels such as the Star of the East (Sidewheel steamer, passenger), Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer, passenger), Della Collins (Sternwheel steamer), Governor (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) and Kennebec (Sidewheel steamer, passenger).

Competition became fierce due to the popularity and profit incurred by steamboat travels. The Bath Company vessels Daniel Webster (Sidewheel steamer) and Eastern City (Sidewheel steamer) rivaled the Kennebec Steamship Company in 1866 running a daily line to Boston with reduced fares. Countless people traveled to Boston aboard these vessels as a result. The Kennebec Company held its own via the Star of the East (Sidewheel steamer) and Eastern Queen (Sidewheel steamer) forcing the Bath Company to withdraw. The Kennebec Steamboat Company took over steamboat travel along this route for thirty-seven years.  The Star of the East (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) was the only boat on the Kennebec route from 1870 to 1889 making two trips weekly. In 1889, the Kennebec (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) was added to the line making two trips weekly as well.  The Sagadahoc (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) ex. Star of the East and Kennebec (Sidewheel steamer, passenger) provided service in the 1890s. The two steamers made ninety-six round trips from Boston to Gardiner in 1892. The Kennebec Steamboat Company sold out to the Eastern Steamship Company in 1901.


1.  “Centennial of Steamboating on the Kennebec—Boston Fare Once 25 Cents.” Lewiston  Journal. Maine Maritime Museum. Collection 54. Box 84. Steamboat Lines.

2.  http://www.lighthouse.cc/perkins/history.html.  7 March 2012.

3.  http://www.augustamaine.gov/

4.  Kingsbury, Henry D. and Simeon L. Deyo, eds. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine:  1625-1799-1892. New York: H. W. Blake and Company, 1892.

5.  The Centennial of Gardiner:  An Account of the Exercises at the Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town, June 25, 1903. Gardiner, Maine: 1903.

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