Peekskill Yacht Club History

PYC has been on the Hudson for more than 100 years. We are boaters, it may be a surprise to learn that the club has history relating to the Hudson River Railroad which began operation in 1851 and was consolidated into the New York Central Railroad in 1853. There are many ways that the club is connected to the railroad with the major one being that for many years it was our landlord. But there are other ways that the railroad impacted Peekskill, the Hudson and the club. Most of the land that we now know as the Riverfront Green was created with the building of the railroad as it filled part of the bay to create land for tracks to service businesses on the bay. Also built at that time were service facilities for the steam locomotives then were used at that time. These included a water tank and one of the methods for them to turn the locomotive: a turntable.

The turntable here in Peekskill was located on the west side of the tracks, south of the station and at the location today of the large mooring ball just before entering the club’s grounds. If you look behind the pilings there you will see a small cement wall with a slight curve that was part of the turntable pit. The metal or bridge part that did the rotating was removed years ago when the railroad stopped using steam locomotives. Sometime later the pit was filled in and a piece of history passed from sight.

We at the club often work with what is at hand and some former club members used a section of the wall as part of our entrance. With the pilings and mooring ball we have long had an attractive site as our entrance that also serves as a good turn around area for vehicles.

Empire State Express (1961)


A steam locomotive in the late 1940s is being turned on the Peekskill turntable. The pit is not a full circle as was common. The cement remains that we use are the raisded areas at both ends of the engine.


Floating Club House

On Jan. 17, 1996 the barge sank about 6 feet.  At the time a number of the clubs were using old barges as clubhouses. The PYC barge had all of the problems associated with having a floating home.

An alarm went off notifying the neighbors of the problem. The police and fire officials were called and pumps were set up. So began the slow process of getting her back up and floating again.

Shawn McGinnis, the city’s deputy mayor was quoted as saying, “We are probably going to have people here all night because we have to wait for the tide to drop. It dropped but then went back up again.”  When the barge sank, it sat on the muck in the river, became stuck and would not rise until quite a bit of water was removed.

I am sure that there are some of us that think this type of clubhouse is just what a boat club should be housed in. And, yes, they are great to look at and of a proper nautical design.  But ask anyone that has experienced one and you will learn that they are a lot of work with sinking being one of the worst events that can happen.

100 Year Old Member

Rocky asked me to write something short about Al Collins to recognize him on his 100 birthday was quick to say yes and had little trouble in doing so. In fact the biggest problem was in keeping it short as Al’s long history in the club made it easy to go long. So I did keep it brief and to the point. Rocky then had it printed as a certificate that we presented to Al when we honored him at the February membership meeting.

The text of this certificate is below. I think it is important to highlight major milestones in the lives of our members and the events at our club. Also, let’s get ready to make history in 2015 as the snow and ice is melting and we will soon be putting the docks in.

Let it be known that the membership of the Peekskill Yacht Club recognizes P.C. Al Collins for his many years of service and commitment. In many ways Al is the model for how members should conduct themselves. As Feb. 25* will mark his 100th birthday we dedicate this day to him. 

Al joined our ranks in 1949 shortly after he returned from the service. Over the many years that he has been a member he has done almost every job that he could perform To name a few Al has been: Secretary, Commodore, Historian and now elder statesman. It would be right and proper to refer to Al as the model for membership.

So we the members honor this fine gentleman on the occasion of his 100t birthday. We also want it to be known though the Hudson Valley and beyond that we are proud to have him as one of our own. Congratulations P.C. Al Collins.

PYC Historian Thom Johnson read a certificate recognizing Al Collins’ 100th birthday and his contributions to the club during a celebration dinner before the January membership meeting. Al thanked the members for all the attention he’s getting and said, “You have built a good foundation for success in the years ahead.”

During the Chamber’s 100th anniversary gala in January, former Peekskill Mayor Vinnie Vesce(left below) introduced Al who then led the Pledge of Allegiance. PYC’s Thom Johnson and Chuck Newman stood with him.

S.S. Peekskil 

PYC Historian Thom Johnson resurrected photos of the S. S. Peekskill underway and at her launch published by the Highland Democrat in 1919. PYC has an important role in preserving Peekskill’s history.

Sea Scouts

Our support of this group of youngsters is one more example of how the Peekskill Yacht Club provides training and leadership for the next generation of boaters.  We should be proud that we support this program and what it represents.

When looking into our archives we need to go back more than 78 years — to Apr. 10, 1935 — to learn when the board voted favorably to sponsor the Sea Scouts and provide them with a mooring.   From the start the Sea Scouts were an appreciated part of the club as they were soon noted for being a “valuable asset to the club in providing labor for our maintenance projects.”

The goal of the Sea Scouts is to train young people in the proper methods of safely operating a vessel. This also includes swimming and water safety instruction as well as the safe boating class.

Sea Scouting is a Venturing Program of the Boy Scouts of America focused on providing young men and women positive experiences to help them mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults.

These goals are of great value and ones we all can be proud that our club supports by providing the scouts access to the Hudson with moorings for their two sailboats and our clubhouse for training.

Sea Scout Ship #30 has 12 members and is always looking for new scouts to fill its ranks.  So if you know a young person between the ages of 14 and 21 who is interested in learning safe boating and having some real adventure, ask him or her to contact us.

Peekskill community