What was the Island Belle?

The Island Belle was the only Nantucket-built steamboat. Local entrepreneurs William F. Codd and William M. Robinson built the 36-foot vessel in the Fair Street workshop of William’s father, Charles H. Robinson. On July 15, 1876, the Island Belle was ceremoniously transported down Fair Street and Main Street to Washington Street for launching. Its steam engine was installed, and it entered service on July 24, 1876.

Island Belle.
Island Belle, 1890s P14646

The Island Belle was berthed on the north side of Steamboat Wharf at “Restaurant Landing,” and made two trips a day to Wauwinet with “extra trips and moonlight excursions if required.” One-way fare was 25¢.

After several summers of operation under different managements, the Island Belle was enlarged and renamed the Coskata. On June 28, 1890, the Inquirer and Mirror published the following poem:

Our little steamer, known so well
Under the name of Island Belle
Has changed her designation,
And having been enlarged in size,
As the “Coskata” now she plies
On inland navigation.

She holds her prestige of yore,
And higher than ever before
People will estimate her;
She claims a large increase in speed
And still will be a friend in need,
Our ferry-boat, “Coskata.”

By 1910 the vessel had been hauled out on South Beach close to its Washington Street launch site and left to decay. Island Belle was broken up in the 1920s.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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