Join us for the OFFICIAL History Press BOOK LAUNCH PARTY!!!


The Sinking of the Steamboat Lexington

on Long Island Sound

The Worst Maritime Disaster

in Long Island History 


With author BILL BLEYER

Saturday, April 15, 2023
1:00 PM


Members Free; Non-Members $8. Includes refreshments. Registration + non-refundable prepayment required. Space is limited! Call 631-727-2881 x100 to reserve your spot.

Or reserve at EventBrite for a small surcharge: 



This is the Official History Press BOOK LAUNCH PARTY and will include a Book Sale & Author Signing. The author will make his just-published book available for a flat fee of $26 each, by cash, check, or credit credit by PayPal or Venmo.

Maritime historian Bill Bleyer will detail the story of the steamboat Lexington–from its unique construction to its harrowing demise and current efforts to document the wreck–the subject of his latest Long Island history book. Commissioned by “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt as he built his maritime empire in New York, the Lexington was the fastest, most luxurious steamboat on Long Island Sound. On a bitter cold night in January 1840, a fire broke out that quickly spread throughout the wooden vessel. The lifeboats were swamped before the steamboat could be stopped, and no rescue boats responded in time. Only 4 of the more than 145 people on board survived after the vessel sank, northwest of Port Jefferson, by clinging to cotton bales, including second mate David Crowley who drifted for more than 40 hours until he came ashore in Riverhead. The disaster intensified the national debate about steamboat safety, and an image of the blaze launched the career of lithographer Nathaniel Currier. After initial salvage attempts, the wreck remained unseen until it was rediscovered by a team of divers in 1983.

Bill Bleyer: A prizewinning staff writer for Newsday for 33 years specializing in history and maritime issues, Bill Bleyer retired in 2014 to write books and freelance for the newspaper and magazines. He is co-author, with Harrison Hunt, of Long Island and the Civil War (2015) and the author of four other books: Sagamore Hill: Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer White House (2016), Fire Island Lighthouse: Long Island’s Welcoming Beacon (2017), Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History(2019), and George Washington’s Long Island Spy Ring: A History and Tour Guide (2021). The Hofstra University graduate has taught economics and journalism there and history at Webb Institute, the naval architecture college in Glen Cove. 


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Suffolk County Historical Society
300 West Main St.
Riverhead, NY 11901



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