You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Barge Canal’ category.

According to the archives, tug Syracuse was splashed in late 1933 and completed in spring 1934 in Syracuse Inner Harbor.  The tug was certainly the oldest entity in the Lyons area of the Canal organization.

The clipping below connects the splash to early December 1933.  Some numbers on the boat:  77′ x 20.8′ x 9 with a 6′ 6″ prop.  She was first built with a 250 hp steam engine from the previous tug Syracuse;  in 1970, a Caterpillar 510 D379 8 cylinder was installed.  I don’t know if there was an intermediary power plant.  Her 1933 $40,000 cost would be just over $750,000 in 2018 dollars.

Here’s a photo of Syracuse of Syracuse NY in Oswego in July 2014. The laker in the distance is Capt. Henry Jackman of Sault Ste Marie.

I’ll do another post on Syracuse soon, but for now, let me share my favorite photos of this veteran, which I took in October 2014 as we passed her with Urger.

I don’t believe there’s ever been a tug that looks quite like Syracuse of Syracuse, except maybe Reliable of Utica, now owned and operated by Mr. Davy Jones.  Check out these trains, cars, and even some boats of this same era here.

So . . . eighty-five years working and still looking great!!

Click here for a post about a 90-year-old canal tug.

The top photo by Bob Stopper;  all others by Will Van Dorp.

Here are previous posts under the category second lives, a designation I use for vessels that are significantly modified from one owner or role to another. The approaching vessel in the next two shots–which I took on the Erie Canal west of Three Rivers in September 2014–show Grand Erie, the newest (built 1951!!) and largest tug in the Erie Canal.


Look at that low Erie Canal design carefully, because


she started life looking like this photo probably taken in 1951 when she was brand new in Pascagoula.  That’s probably the open Gulf of Mexico in the background.

All the black and white photos in this post are credited to Boat Photo Museum.  If anybody wants 8×10 photos, they are $5.00 each, plus postage through the Museum.

1 Chartiers For Tugster Use Only Boat Photo Museum 868

Chartiers was considered a dredge tender.  Here she’s pushing a scow somewhere in the Pittsburgh area.

2 Chartiers For Tugster Use Only Boat Photo Museum 869

And here she’s tied up at the Corps of Engineers repair base at Neville Island, Pittsburgh.  Look carefully at the upper superstructure in this photo, pre-1985.

3 Chartiers For Tugster Use Only Boat Photo Museum 870

In 1985, the vessel was purchased by the New York canals system, then still called the Barge Canal.  The name changed in 1992.  Then, Chartiers traveled to New York state from the Ohio River via St. Louis, the Illinois River, Chicago, and the Great Lakes.

Here’s Dan Owen’s description of the photo:  “This is how it [looked] when I first saw it going up the [Mississippi] Aug. 13, 1985 at St. Louis.  It was on the other side of the river.  The top part of the pilothouse roof was actually cut off to the level of the second deck cabin to get under the bridges in the Chicago area. I do not know how long the pilothouse was 100% air conditioned, all the way from Pittsburgh, or at a shipyard in the St. Louis area. Or, if the pilothouse was welded back on after clearing the Chicago bridges.”

4 Chartiers For Tugster Use Only Boat Photo Museum 872


5 Chartiers For Tugster Use Only Boat Photo Museum 873

Here’s more of Dan’s description:  “These two photos show Chartiers departing Chain of Rocks Lock, Granite City, Ill.  [Notice the helm,] complete with searchlight, sitting on the deck. Also visible are two spare rudders.”

6 Chartiers874

For more comparison, below are three photos of Grand Erie I took in September 2015.  In the photo she’s flanked by Tender #3  starboard and tug Waterford to her port.


Compare this photo of Grand Erie to the second b/w photo above to note all the changes.


And compare this one to the last b/w photo above.


Many thanks to Dan Owen of Boat Photo Museum for use of these photos.  All color photos were taken by myself, Will Van Dorp, in 2014 and 2015.

Here’s how you might be able to add to this collection:  in July 1986 the newly modified Grand Erie came to NYC waters  aka the sixth boro to participate in Liberty Weekend, the rededication of the Statue of Liberty.  Grand Erie served as Governor Cuomo‘s ride.  Does anyone have photos from that time  . . . Grand Erie in NYC in 1986?  I’d love to see them.

The transformation from Erie Canal to Barge Canal involved incorporating more rivers and lakes into the canal system.   Enjoy these river and lake photos, like the one below . . . Oswego river, northbound, June 2014.  All photos were taken in 2014.


Mohawk River eastbound also in June.


Oneida Lake crossing eastbound, August.


Mohawk River eastbound in August.


Oneida Lake eastbound in late October.  Now contrast these photos with


land cut near Waterford in October and


near Rochester about a week earlier.


All photos by Will Van Dorp.



Remind me some day to tell the story of Schuyler Meyer, who is credited with starting Urger’s educational program back before 1990.  As of today, the season is over.  Over 4500 NYS fourth graders have experienced the “Urger program” this season.  That number and more have visited the 113-year-old vessel in festivals and other contexts  along the  Canal, now recognized as a very large location on the National Register of Historical Places.

Thanks to Chris Kenyon of Wayne County Tourism for the first and last photo here.  All other photos were taken by Will Van Dorp.


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