Beautifully engraved certificate from the E.S.Randall Steamboat & Excursion Company
issued in 1900. This historic document has an ornate border around it with a vignette of the capitol. This item has the signatures of the Company's President, E.S. Randall (Estelle Randall) and Secretary and is over 108 years old.
The E.S. Randall Potomac River Line Company operated steamers on the Potomac River. One of the largest and most magnificent Steamer was the Estelle Randall, named after the company's founder. The 112 foot long vessel was built in 1898 at Baltimore by William E. Woodall and Company. Its machinery was furnished by the Campbell and Zell Company.
In 1909, the steamer had been bought by the Farmers' and Merchants' Line of North Carolina and was then overhauled in Norfolk for use in the Albemarle region. Soon after, on January 18, 1910, the Estelle Randall was consumed by the fire of unknown origin and was a total loss.
The Estelle Randall made stops at towns along the Albemarle Sound on its run between Elizabeth City and Norfolk, Virginia. During one of these stops at the town of Columbia in Tyrrell County, the Estelle Randall burned and sank while tied to the wharf. The ship's cook died, but the remaining fourteen crew members narrowly escaped the late evening fire.
Standard History of the City of Washington from a Study of the Original Sources - 1914
The beginning of the last quarter of the nineteenth century
found most of the water transportation business of Washington
in the hands of four companies; the Inland and Seaboard Coasting
Company, the Clyde Line, the Washington Steamboat Company,
Ltd., and the Potomac Steamboat Company.
The Inland and Seaboard Coasting Company continued for
a number of years to operate the John Gibson and E. C. Knight
on the New York run. The Knight was sunk in collision with a
schooner off Hog Island in 1883, and the Gibson was sold when
the line was abandoned in the following year. This company
continued to operate the Lady of the Lake and Jane Mosely
on the run to Norfolk until 1892, when the advent of the more
modern steamers of the Norfolk and Washington Steamboat
Company forced the older vessels off the route. The Inland and
Seaboard Coasting Company built the John W. Thompson,
named after its first President, about 1878, and placed her on the
run to the lower river landings. After the breaking up of the
company she was sold to E. S. Randall and her named changed to
the Harry Randall.
The Clyde Line started about 1876 with the small side-wheel
steamer Sue on the run between Washington and Baltimore,
with stops at the lower river landings. About 1887 the Sue was
bought by Charles Lewis, who for some time had been operating
the John E. Taggart on the same run, and who in October,
1894, sold out to the Weems Line, which at once replaced the
Taggart with the iron screw steamer Potomac. This line in
1900 replaced the Sue with the screw boat Northumberland; in
1902 it replaced the Potomac with the Calvert; and in 1905, it
replaced the Calvert with the Anne Arundel. In 1907 the line
was purchased by the Maryland. Delaware and Virginia Railway
Company, which replaced the Anne Arundel with the Three
In 1878 the Express, which was operated by a rival of the
Clyde Line was wrecked in a storm on Chesapeake Bay, near the
mouth of the river, with the loss of several lives.
The Washington Steamboat Company operated the Wakefield and T. V. Arrowsmith on the lower river route from 1878
to 1895, when these boats were acquired by the Randall Line, which added to the fleet the former John W. Thompson, re-named
the Harry Randall.
In 1906 the line was bought by the Chesapeake
and Potomac Steamboat Company which has since continued
to operate it on the old run, to the lower river, and which
changed the name of the Harry Randall to the Capital City.
The Potomac Steamboat Company under the management
of George E. Mattingly operated the George Leary and Excelsior
between Washington and Norfolk from about 1876 until March,
1891, when the line was taken over by the Norfolk and Washington
Steamboat Company. The Excelsior had been built to
ferry cars to the Richmond and Frcdericksburg Railway terminus
at Aquia Creek; and after the construction of the track
from that terminus to Quantico, on the Potomac, was used to
carry passengers from Washington to Quantico until the construction
of the railroad from that place to Alexandria in 1872
completed the through rail connection between Washington and
Richmond. She was exceptionally fast, with double boilers and
a superstructure so high as to completely hide her walking beam.
The Norfolk and Washington Steamboat Company commenced
operations in the Spring of 1891 with the palatial screw
steamers Washington and Norfolk, to which in 1895 was added
a larger boat, the Newport News, and in 1905 and 1912, respectively,
the still larger vessels Southland and Northland. This
line since its inauguration has been under the management of
Mr. D. J. Callahan, with Mr. E. B. Bowling as General Agent.
The steamer W. W. Corcoran commenced making trips to
Mount Vernon about 1870, and continued to do so until replaced
by the Charles Macalester in 1890. She was burned at
her dock in September, 1891. About 1876, and for some years
after, the Arrow, a small fast steamer, also took excursions to
Mount Vernon. The Mary Washington, a flat-bottomed steamer,
equipped with a centerboard, was operated by E. S. Randall as
an excursion boat to White House and Occoquon from about 1873
In the early eighties Mr. E. S. Randall commenced running
the Pilot Boy on excursions to River View, later adding the Samuel J. Pentz and Harry Randall. During the late nineties the Ma.
calester was aided on the Mount Vernon and Marshall Hall run
by the River Queen, a fast ante-bellum boat, which had been
used as a transport during the Civil War, and on which President
Lincoln made his visit to the Union Army in front of
Petersburg in 1865. After being used on the Marshall Hall run
for several years the River Queen was employed for a number
of seasons in carrying colored excursions to Notley Hall and
Glymont. Colonial Beach was established as a summer resort
during the late eighties, since which time a number of steamers
have been engaged in the extensive excursion traffic to that place;
among them the T. V. Arrowsmith, the Jane Mosely, the Harry
Randall, and since 1906, the St. John's of the Chesapeake and