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Oswego marks one end of the Erie Canal, and near the westernmost piece of bulkhead there I spotted a freshwater tug . . . Apalachee, launched in 1943.

And up in Clayton near the western end of the St Lawrence River I noticed another, Abaco, launched in 1953. Beyond her is Carina, 1954, ex-Pisces.

Still in the Erie Canal (Newark) waits Grouper, 1912, posted about here.

Fire in a boiler? The only connection here is that this boiler generates pressure that . . .

moves this old engine that . . .

according to its owner, at the Pageant of Steam last week, used to power a canal tugboat . . . maybe like Grouper . . . until about 1930. Once ashore, it drove a machine shop near Rochester. Today the engine does steamy demos, some belt-turning, and gives voice to this cacophony of whistles. But the unnamed re-powered tug, I heard, has been sent to Delaware . . .

–actually in Deljerseyland— on a reef building project. I’ve taken all that “prior lives” info on faith, blind faith . . . but it does make a good story that makes me hunger for what got left out.

Good stories like those emanating from these freshwater tugs: Apalachee was built by Ira S. Bushey in Brooklyn, Abaco by National Steel and Shipbuilding in San Diego, Carina by Higgins Inc of New Orleans. Grouper built in Cleveland but worked in Florida. All freshwater . . . NOT.

The countdown now begins . . . 19 days til the NYC Tug Race and . . . 25 til the Tug Roundup in Waterford. If you’ve never seen both, you’re missing something unique, and that’s no story. Here’s interesting background on the race.

Photos, WVD.

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August 2008