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The first half of January 2013–a decade ago–was one long gallivant, taking in New Orleans to St Louis to Pittsburgh and then back home.  In the spirit of these retro posts, let me start here, shooting right off the Algiers ferry. Barbara E. Bouchard is now Dann M’s Turquoise Coast, which I’ve not seen.

No stroll in the night life of Nola is complete without a stop at Igor’s Checkpoint Charlie, combo bar, music venue, and laundromat!!

Following the river by car, we next stopped in Baton Rouge, and among the dozens of boats, enjoy this one–Ned Ferry–with a sixth boro connection:  It was built in 1959 Pittsburgh for Pennsylvania Railroad, which in 1968 merged with the New York Central to form Penn Central.  In 1974 it was sold to Crescent, which repowered and rebuilt it . . .  Find more in Paul Strubeck’s Diesel Railroad Tugs Vol 1.

The river is quite busy;  here Creole Sun works on a fleeting job.

Richard‘s pushing a set of tank barges. You might imagine I’m toying with a Mississippi River cruise this year.

American Pillar is a good example of a line haul boat:  195′ x 54′ and working with 10500 hp.

Fort Defiance Park in Cairo IL is a good place to see the Ohio and the Mississippi River refuse to mix for a while.  Note the difference in water color.

I never mentioned that my car was broken into in East St Louis in summer 2021;  Malcolm W Martin Park right across the way is the place.  I left a review on tripadvisor in September 2021 here if you scroll through.

Leaving St Louis in 2013 we made a stop in Kampville to catch the ferry across the Illinois River.

 

Then it was a lot of dry until we got to the Monongahela River at Belle Vernon PA, and the port of registry on these boats tell you where the nearest port (to the north) is.

We’ll leave it there.  If you want to peruse the archives for January 2013, click here . . .  they are in reverse chronological order.  There were obviously many many photos.

All photos, WVD.

I don’t go to galleries, museums, or other events enough, I know, but ’tis the season when it’s dark and rainy, and indoors can be bright, dry, and cheery. Rainy Sunday afternoon recently, I stopped in at the Noble Maritime Collection on Staten Island to show it to a friend not familiar with Noble’s work. Snug Harbor –location of  Noble Maritime— is always a good place to visit.   I’ll put links to John A. Noble in general at end of post, and I know some of my readers knew him.

Here’s one of the images that caught and held me.   Spend some time and savor it;  farther below is more information. 

How about those 1949 Cadillacs?   I needed to know more about the Cadillacs, of course.  And I found some.  Can you name the other “Cadillacs” of the Moran fleet?  Any more about them?  Answer follows.

Here’s a slightly closer up of the image above.  This image is on display as part of a current exhibit called “Andrea Doria:  Rescue at Sea.” 

While you mull over what you know about the Moran Cadillacs, how ’bout a glance at some Cadillacs of that general vintage. 

Never before have I looked at a hood ornament and thought how much that figure resembles a version of mermaid . . . not a woman and fish; rather, a woman and a ray.  Agree?

The first of four here is a Cadillac, again . . . that general vintage.  Can you name the other three?

All photos, any errors or digressions, WVD.

Here and here are some starter John A. Noble links.    Here’s an online gallery of some of his works for sale.

As to Moran’s Cadillacs:  Grace (now Towell Power), Doris (last Piar), Barbara (reefed as Georgia), Carol (reefed near her sister), and Moira (later Cedar Point) from Levingston Shipbuilding, now gone.  They launched at the rate of one each month between April and August 1949.  Paul Strubeck mentions their naval architect–Tams Inc., in his book Diesel Railroad Tugboats I reviewed not even two months ago here

While I’m on books, Erin Urban offers at least two books on John A. Noble. 

 

 

 

 

Full disclosure first, I met the author, Paul Strubeck, around 15 years ago, and he’s been working on this voluminous tome for almost a decade.  We met on a retired diesel railroad tugboat, of course, not either of the ones depicted below.  Over the years, Paul has shared photos and information on this blog.

I’ll tell you what I think about this book in a moment, but first, any guesses on the date, location, and info on the two tugboats depicted on this striking cover?

The rear cover has some Dave Boone art.  Anything look familiar in that painting?

Soon after Paul and I  met, we took this same WHC tour together.  I’m certainly not a packrat, but the fact that I still have the program attests to my sense that it was an extraordinary tour, much narration of which was prefaced “you can’t see any trace any more, but …” because rail marine in the sixth boro is mostly a thing of the past.  What’s not in the past but an immutable geographical fact is that the sixth boro surrounds an ever more densely-populated archipelago that still needs resupplying today, mostly provided by trucks and frustrated drivers clogging highways today, hence efforts like the recent beer run, to name but one.  

Contractors move carfloats today, but at one time rail lines built their own dedicated tugboats, steam and diesel, and the evolution of the latter type is what Paul’s book interprets for us.  These tugboats are mostly gone, and he tracks the disposition of each one, but a few still in use have been redesigned so successfully you might never guess their previous lives.

As I said earlier, Paul has worked on this book for the better part of a decade.  When he wasn’t employed on a  tugboat, he got jobs on the railroad, which employs him now fulltime.  But when he wasn’t scheduled by some employer, he traveled to places where he researched this book in harbors, photo archives, libraries, and museums.   To “unpack” this table of contents a bit, the “Oil-electrics” chapter focuses on  the railroads that switched from steam propulsion to diesel:  first in 1916 the Pennsylvania RR re-powering steam tug Media with a 4-cylinder Southwark-Harris heavy oil engine;  in 1926 NY Central RR built a pair of tugs on Staten Island and named NY Central’s No. 33 and No. 34, and Erie was next. 

Then next four chapters elaborate on the naval architects, the decisions they made, and the tugboats they built.

“What’s inside a tug?” includes nomenclature

 

and specialized information not commonly known to a layperson as well as to a mariner who works on non-railroad tugs.

Documents like this top one from August 1978 demystify the daily/hourly activity of tugboat crew, in this case,  the marine engineer.  Paul brings his tugboat/locomotive perspective to the page.

The book has 266 color photos and 131 black/white, for a total of 397, of which 342 have never been book/web published;  he scanned them from company records, trade literature, negatives, and slides.  Each photo has a detailed caption.  Further, the book has 4 original maps, 22 blueprints/drawings, and 17 documents/advertisements from vintage marine diesel magazines.

There are 11 appendices, including

 

17 pages of Appendix K listing all East Coast diesel railroad tugboats and their dimensions, designers and builders, engine specs, multiple names, and [what I find very helpful] their disposition, i.e., still in use, scrapped, reefed, or other.  A total of 23 railroad companies are mentioned.

On the last page, you learn a bit about the author.  He’s already working on a volume 2, focusing on railroad tugs of the Great Lakes and Inland Waterways.

To me, this book is a delight to read through and a reference for East Coast tugboats.  On my bookshelf, it goes next to Thomas R. Flagg’s book New York Harbor Railroads In Color, volumes 1 and 2, published in 2000 and 2002 but with most information cut off in 1976.  Paul’s book will be a delight for historians, aficionados of rail and marine technology, modelers, urban planners, and the general public with curiosity about how we get stuff from place of manufacture to place(s) of use.

As anyone who releases a book or other work knows, an author does not want to keep a pile of books like this at home.  For info on ordering your copy, click here.  This is not a “mainstream” book you’d see while browsing the all-too-few bookstores surviving these days.  Rather, it is published by an independent railroad-focused publisher called Garbely Publishing.

To answer the questions about cover “photo,” the front cover shows Erie tugs Elmira and Marion  in Hoboken in March 1975. Marion was launched at Jakobson’s  in Oyster Bay NY in 1953 and is being prepared for reefing at this very moment in 2022.  Anyone know details?  Elmira was launched the same year on Staten Island and was scrapped in 1984 after an engine room fire.  The Dave Boone painting shows New York Dock Railway tug Brooklyn southbound on the North River.  Notice the Colgate clock along the right side.  Brooklyn (now Florida) is currently a rebuilt but active boat in the Crescent fleet in Savannah GA.  My image of the boat as I saw it in 2014 is below;  that day I took another shot of the tugboat which appears on page 190 of Paul’s book.

Previous book reviews I’ve posted here can be found at these links.

2021

2020

2017

2014

2012

2012

2010

 

 

 

Here’s a history-packed and very detailed photo.  In the foreground you see James K. Averill and Amsterdam.  In the next row back, that’s Urger behind Averill and a boat I can’t identify [name board just to the right of Averill’s stack shows a name that ends in –le No 1 ] behind Amsterdam. Also, in the foreground, there’s good detail of the ratchet and chain system to open the bottom-dumping doors of the scow.

Averill, 50′ x 14′ x 4.5′, was a wooden-hulled tug built in 1912.  It worked for a D. G. Roberts of Champlain NY until 1925.  Champlain is a town on the NY/QC border.  Her original power may have been a 200 hp coal-burning 1905 Skinner & Arnold steam engine. and a Murphy Donnely Co. boiler.  She was repowered and given new superstructure in 1930, but I don’t know what the new power or the previous superstructure were.  Notations on her info card says her coal storage capacity was seven tons and she burned on average a half ton of coal per eight-hour day. 

This dry dock photo shows a “cutaway” of her frames and stringers.

Initially, I looked at this photo and assumed Averill had experienced a catastrophic fire, but with her all-wood structure, a fire would likely not have gone out before entirely consuming the vessel.

Another look at Averill, here off the stern of Tender #3, 

says to me that this was the dismantling of Averill, which happened some time after October 1960.

 

All photos used thanks to the Canal Society of New York.  The top photo above appears in Enterprising Waters, by Brad Utter.

 

 

I believe Albert Gayer took these photos at lock E-14.  This unit was transiting westbound and has just entered, as the lower gates are still open.

 

Note the long “reins” running from the spotlight all the way back to the wheelhouse.  I’ll be corrected if wrong, but I suspect these allowed someone in the wheelhouse to swivel the light to illuminate what was needed during night passage:  buoys, other vessels, debris in the water, etc. 

J. Raymond Russell was built at Liberty Dry Dock (where is that?) in Brooklyn in 1939.  For the next quarter century and until 1963, it was a Russell Brothers Towing vessel

The Russells began their business in the sixth boro in 1844, finally selling to McAllister Towing in 1962.  More on Russell Brothers Towing here, and if you want 150-some pages of their history, check out Hilary Russell’s book here.

All photos, Albert Gayer.

The most frequent Russell Brothers boat on this blog is the wooden tug W. O. Decker, ex-Russell 1 from 1930 until 1947.

 

See the man on the pier using his cell phone to get a photo?  I wonder what he imagined he was looking at, other than a group on the water on a spectacular December day.  Did he know he was witnessing the culmination of an odyssey?

The Columbia, Snake, Clark Fork, Missouri, Mississippi, [to saltwater] Mobile, Tombigbee, Tenn-Tom Waterway, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, Kanawha, Allegheny, Chadakoin, Lake Chautauqua, Lake Erie, Erie Canal, Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk, Hudson . . .  [I may have left one out].  What do they have in common?

Neal Moore‘s paddled them stringing together a path on his 675-day canoe trip along his 7500-mile route of inland rivers from saltwater Astoria OR to the saltwater Statue of Liberty, an extreme form of social distancing during the time of Covid.   Photos of the last several miles follow.  

Note that the other paddlers traveled to the sixth boro of NYC to join him for the last few miles,

just as they–“river angels”– had during different segments of the 22-month trip.  Some elites of paddling enjoyed the sixth boro yesterday.

From Pier 84 Manhattan to the Statue and back, they rode the ebb.

 

Why, you might be wondering?  Moore, a self-described expatriate who wanted to explore the United States in the reverse order of the historical east-to-west “settlement” route, sought out to meet people, find our commonalities, our united strength.  Some might call that direction “the wrong way.”

After one circumnavigation of Liberty Island following his paddling up and down all those watersheds, the journey was done.  After unpacking his Old Town canoe, he scrambled

with assistance onto the Media Boat, triumphantly but humbly.

 

He stepped over onto a larger vessel in the NYMB fleet, for interviews and a trip back to terra firma,

22rivers’ goal completed, for now.

All photos, WVD, thanks to New York Media Boat conveyance.  I have many, many more photos.

For Ben McGrath’s New Yorker piece on Neal Moore, click here.  Also, check out Ben’s book Riverman.  Let me add two more references:  another McGrath article and a book Mississippi Solo here.

Of course, Neal’s whole epic can be traced at his site, 22Rivers.

I first learned of 22Rivers from Bob Stopper, who met Neal in Lyons NY two months ago, and I and posted about it here (scroll).

More links as follows:

Norm Miller, Missouri River guide

John Ruskey, lower Mississippi River system guide who was on the Hudson yesterday.  He’s also the founder of Quapaw Canoe Company.

Tom Hilton, Astoria-based Fisher Poet, whom I met last night.

And at the risk of leaving someone out, here’s a longtime favorite of mine, an account of a rowboat from Brooklyn to Eastport ME by way of New Orleans . . . Nathaniel Stone’s On the Water.

Who’d I leave out?

September 11, 2001 was one of those days that changed you. Without a doubt, no matter where you were or what you were doing, you remember that day. We are still in its aftermath.

It recast me too.  That morning I was at work in a Brooklyn three-floor building five miles from the Towers, across the East River. A friend called before 0900 to tell me to look out a west-facing window.  I watched for some seconds, black smoke pouring from near the top of one of the towers. Concluding it must have been an accident, maybe a small plane or a helicopter, I got back to work. Shortly after 0900, the friend called again, frantic, and told of reports that two hijacked planes had crashed into the towers; more hijacked planes were in the air, she said. I returned to the window, and now much more smoke, yellowish gray, blanketed both Towers. For me, the rest of the day was a blur, inconceivable sights in the distance across the river, swirling rumors of horrors.

We all have our take on that morning, even hundreds and thousands of miles from lower Manhattan. Mostly I don’t talk about 9/11 much, and I’ve not yet gone to the museum located there now, likely I’ll never go. I’ve mostly avoided reading about that day although I have read widely about the wars it spawned.

I made an exception when I was asked to review Jessica Dulong’s Saved at the Seawall, a re-issued version, paperback. In a preface added to this version, DuLong writes that “only after years of avoiding conversation about my time at Ground Zero did I finally make my peace with the human need for September 11 stories. Chronicling catastrophe necessarily creates a distance, a remove.”

She interviewed at least 75 people who were involved in the immediate aftermath, some on the island but many more at the seawall and farther out in the harbor, the sixth boro, on boats.  A list names all the boats that evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from lower Manhattan, but her book chronicles what occurred from the perspective of rescuer and rescued alike.

Flipping through pages as I write this review, I notice that 150 pages into the book, she’s recounting events not even two full hours after the first plane hit. The details are palpable, and told with skill.

In the epilogue, DuLong states that reflecting on rescuers that day has “reconstructed my faith in the human soul.” Their acts “struck me less about heroism and more about pragmatism, resourcefulness, and simple human decency. If you have the wherewithal, you step up.”  I’d see it as a variation on the international code, written and unwritten, that mariners have a duty to rescue those in distress at sea;  in this case, when the USCG issued a call to “all available boats,” mariners in the harbor responded and rescued people in distress on an island in distress.

I’m grateful Jessica DuLong interviewed the folks in this book, recorded their experience before memory could distort it, and then meticulously reconstructed that morning from dozens of perspectives. I was especially surprised to see a half dozen people I know interviewed in the book, people whom I’ve never heard talk about that day.

I highly recommend reading this book.  You can order it from the publisher here.

Previous book reviews can be seen here.

If you want the International Red Cross view on this, click here.

 

Here are the previous 61. 

A novel idea is floating in the East River, or was.

My spin on it is this.  Name three of your favorite “maritime” books, or works, to put into a maritime collection of books . . .  Don’t overthink it . . . they can be obvious or obscure or a combination of both.  They can be books for kids or adults.

And my three are:

The Lost Sea, Jan de Hartog.

We the Drowned, Carsten Jensen

Maqroll the Gaviero, Álvaro Mutis

Photos, WVD.  Thx, Nate Austin. 

Mary Turecamo, 4300 hp and waiting for a ship at the Narrows, could not look better.  She’s an almost 40-year-old product of Matton Shipyard.  In fact, she was their last product.

Christiana heads out as

Virginia, 1440 hp and launched in 1979,  comes in

from sea, out of the haze.

Christiana was launched in Marinette WI in 2007, a year after Brandywine and a few years after the Molinari class of Staten Island ferries.  She’s married to Double Skin 143, another Marinette vessel.

Barney Turecamo (1995 and 5100)  and  barge Georgia gets rotated by Marie J Turecamo (1968 and 2250). Yesterday I started a re-read of the 1956 book Tug Boat:  The Moran Story, and am finding it very satisfying.

Here’s a dense pack over at the east end of IMTT:  Josephine, Evelyn Cutler, and Cape Lookout:  (2018 and 4560), (1973 and 3900), and (2018 and 5000).

Crystal Cutler arrived here from the shipyard in 2010 and works with 1500 hp.

She’s pushing Patricia Poling

And finally, a light Hunting Creek, 2011 and 3000 hp.

All photos and any errors, WVD.

This photo of aframax BW Thalassa I took on Friday.  Note the green BW slash about a third of the shiplength back from the bow. 

Here’s a photo from Saturday, 24 hours later, after rain and fog have moved in.  Note the green BW slash on the tanker beyond the Evergreen ship?

Ever Focus appears to have a maximum load aboard as she speeds toward Colon PA.  A bit beyond Ambrose, AIS showed her at 19.2 kts, 22 mph.

See the Manhattan skyline?  Not much.  A few outlines appears along the shore of Manhattan, but nothing more shows.  The new Janice Ann Reinauer is among the tug/barge units anchored there.

Bruce A. heads for a job,

as do Miriam and Helen.

CL Christina was inbound for Claremont, but again, fog obscured the bright shiny detail.  Of course, the scrap loaded in Claremont has no bright shiny detail either.

All photos, WVD, who finds the fog frustrating even though it was around 50 degrees F, but this is how the harbor looks sometimes.

Unrelated:  I just finished Shadow Divers, an account of the discovery of a U-boat wreck 60 miles off Point Pleasant.  It’s a compelling read.  It turns out there’s a counter-narrative also, Shadow Divers Exposed by Gary Gentile. 

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