The Westchester

The Westchester was a screw propelled steamboat built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1904, and brought to the St. John River by Eastern Canada Coastal Steamships in the spring of 1930. She was 130 feet long, with a 363-ton capacity.

A notable feature of the Westchester was that her propellers were placed quite far apart. This gave her great leverage in turning, going ahead on one engine and astern on the other. It was, however, a distinct disadvantage in making wharf stops. It was almost impossible for the engineer to throttle the engines down to exactly the same speed. The result was that when speed was slackened, or the engines reversed, the steamer would tend to either veer directly toward the wharf or away from it, her exact maneuver being unpredictable, which caused the captain many an anxious moment.

The Westchester proved too expensive to operate for the declining business available at the time and she was taken out of service at the close of 1938 and transferred to the St. Lawrence River.

On one occasion, the Majestic and the Westchester had been carrying excursion parties nearly all day to Crystal Beach. It was decided that since the D. J. Purdy I could bring the remaining passengers back to the city, the Westchester should leave for Chipman and the Majestic for Coles Island, as soon as they could get away late in the afternoon.

The Westchester, in command by Captain C. C. Taylor, was the first to leave Indiantown. The Majestic followed about 45 minutes later. Both boats had two wharf stops to make. The Majestic was the faster boat, but could she pass the Westchester before parting company with her at the mouth of the Washademoak?

The race was on. By the time the Majestic rounded the foot of Long Reach, the distance between the steamers had closed but the chase was not over. More distance was gained when the Westchester stopped at Public Landing, but this was lost when the Majestic stopped at Browns Flat. Past Oak Point and along the Mistake, the Majestic gained slowly but steadily. Passing Evandale, she was little more than a boat length behind. Captain Taylor's son, Captain Donald F. Taylor, was steering the Majestic. The Majestic held to the deep water but kept slightly to the starboard of the Westchester to avoid her backwash and be able to pass before Spoon Island. As the Majestic's bow came abreast of the stern of the other boat, Captain C. C. Taylor shifted course slightly to starboard, thus causing his son to do likewise, which forced the Majestic into the shallow water below Gerow's Wharf and this cut her speed considerably. The Westchester drew away once more. While the Majestic caught up with her again and passed in the wider water between Wickham and Long Island, the elder Captain Taylor had had his fun, and had shown his son that he could be a wily opponent at the wheel.