Scattered among all the old wood from docks and wrecked ships at the bottom of Port Jefferson Harbor, are the remains of the sloop Emperor, a packet ship that once made daily trips between the village and New York City.
“The wreck of the sloop Emperor sits on the east shore of Port Jefferson harbor,” reads the caption to the image pictured above from the Port Jefferson Historical Archive. The wreck, according to Village Historian Ken Brady, is no longer visible but its legend remains as a profitable endeavor.
“The Emperor has always proved a money maker from the day she was launched,” according to a story in an issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper, dated Feb. 10, 1895. The title of the article was “The Sloop Emperor: The Story of a Stanch and True Old Boat.”
The paper says “in the spring of 1828 Capt. Caleb Kinner of Port Jefferson contacted with Zephaniah and Israel Hallock, ship builders of Derby, Conn., to build him a vessel which would be a fast one.”
It was the only means of communication and travel to the city at the time except for a stagecoach. According to the paper, there “was not a mile of railroad track on Long Island” when the sloop was built.
No wonder it was profitable.
Only a few years after it first set sail, a cholera epidemic broke out in New York City and the packet made extra trips to accommodate passengers seeking refuge out to the country.
A poem was even published in the Port Jefferson Times on April 5, 1895 about the ship.
“The poem, ‘Old Drown' Meadow Packet,’ was written by William M. Davis, Port Jefferson's foremost painter,” said Brady in an email.
The poet lovingly sings the praises of the ship, asking why it still sailed despite very old age and did not cast itself on the shores of Mt. Misery.
Happy passengers and sailors
By thousands voyaged with me,
Yet never lost I one of them
By dangers of the sea.
Hurrah! Long live the Emperor
They hailed the bonny boat;
I’m the oldest single sticker
In all the world afloat.
For more historical photos of the Emperor and many other images head over to historical archive on the Port Jefferson Village’s official website.
What can you tell us about the Emperor? Have you heard about it or ever seen the wreck?