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The Sinking of the Steamboat Lexington: Long Island’s Worst Maritime Disaster with Bill Bleyer

Updated: Feb 7

Author and researcher Bill Bleyer joined us last month for a talk about his new book, The Sinking of the Steamboat Lexington on Long Island Sound. It details the 1840 fire and sinking in Long Island Sound that claimed the lives of all but four of the up to 150 people on board. The survivors escaped by using cotton bales as life rafts; one drifted for 40 hours in subfreezing weather before landing in Riverhead and reaching a house three-quarters of a mile away before collapsing. The disaster marked an important milestone in journalism history because young lithographer Nathaniel Currier rushed to make an image of the fire for the New York Sun, which put out extra editions using the illustration, one of the first times a daily newspaper had an illustration with a breaking news story. The loss of the Lexington also led to an important Supreme Court decision and helped lead to tougher safety regulations for steamboats.

This zoom was free to attend and now the recording is listed here for all to see and share. If you would like to make a donation to the Southampton History Museum to help support this and other programs please use the link below.

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