In May, this column focused on a postcard portraying a ferry that once . The establishment of an auto bridge put an end to this era of New London transportation, although some readers commented that they would prefer to this type of crossing to the Gold Star Bridge. This week's item takes a look at another ferry operation running out of New London: the Wyandotte, of the Montauk Steamboat Company.
This postcard is offered by seller John Keller of Pittsfield, Mass. I swear this is our sister city. The Wynadotte was part of the fleet of the Montauk Steamboat Company, which was established in 1898. The 115.6-foot ferry was built in 1892 and named for the Michigan city where it was made.
The ferry replaced a vessel known as Orient in 1913 to run a route from New London to Sag Harbor in Long Island. However, it was part of the company prior to this point, filling in for a steamer that broke a propeller shaft in the rough seas of Plum Gut. In August of 1914, the Wyandotte had an early encounter with a historic vessel. The captain reported that the British luxury liner Lusitania had cabled that she was being chased by a German cruiser. The ship was torpedoed by a U-boat off the Irish coast nine months later with considerable loss of life, spurring increased tensions between the United States and Germany.
The Wynadotte suffered its own misfortune in Plum Gut in September of 1921, losing its rudder and drifting for half an hour before being towed into port by oyster boats. The New York Times reported that Melville E. Stone, a former manager of the Associated Press, was on board and none too pleased by the incident. It turned out that the captain of the ferry had mistaken a New London resident named W.B. Stone for the AP man. The newspaper duly reported the mistake as well as the reaction of Melville: "Conscious that accidents will happen in the best-regulated newspaper offices, I am more amused than annoyed at a telegram which appears in the morning issue of The Times," he wrote. "Under sensational headlines it is asserted that my wife and I were on a steamer near Greenport, L.I., yesterday, and had all sorts of difficulties, for which I am intent upon suing the Long Island Railroad. Let me say that I have something like fifteen separate and distinct alibis."
The Wynadotte was in service until 1923. At that point, it was replaced by the Shinnecock, a ferry better able to handle the increased use of automobiles. The transportation of people and vehicles between New London and Long Island continues to this day, with the fleet even offering a certain similarity to the scene portrayed in this postcard.
This auction ends at about 5:47 a.m. on Thursday. The starting bid is $5, with $1.50 for shipping and handling.