The Hudson River was a waterway dotted with sail and steam during America's Industrial Age. The towboat entered the river in the late 1840s and established itself as the 'workhorse' of river craft.

The wooden hull of Syracuse was built at Hoboken, New Jersey in 1857. Built for towing, Syracuse became the sixth largest tow to make her appearance on the Hudson. She operated between New York and Albany in 1857.

The Syracuse provided 41 years of continuous service, until sold in 1898, taken to Perth Amboy, N.J., and scrapped.