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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 installments.

Let’s start with a shot from Oswego.  To me, it captures the magic of the Canal in that city and the stately buildings that surround it.  The photo is by Jennifer Mays, who calls it “Old man Winter is on his way #headedsouth #oswegocanal.  It shows research vessel DelMor (ex-Kaho) upbound in the Oswego Canal between lacks E-8 and E-7.  DelMor is in the “canalized” portion of the Oswego River;  the wild portion of the river–divided by the ruins of central dock–distinguishes itself by its obvious current.   The yellow building farthest left is the 1913 Pontiac Hotel.  For more sights along the Oswego Canal, click here. Pontiac, the Odawa leader of his confederacy post-French & Indian War, signed a peace treaty in Oswego in July 1766. 

The next two photos come from Patrick Gallagher. The shots taken from the East River show the Brooklyn Bridge and Clipper City beyond that.   The colors are the magic of sunset as recorded by a smartphone camera.

 

Clipper City is a 158′ replica of a Great Lakes schooner built in Manitowoc in 1854.  The image below comes from the must-have book The Freighters of Manitowoc by Tom Wenstadt.

And last but certainly not least, Paul Strubeck got a close-up photo of a newcomer in the sixth boro, a floating electronic billboard created by Ballyhoo Media.  A floating billboard . . . would that be a bill boat?

Matt OHara caught the billboat departing Morris Canal, leaving the NJCRR terminal to starboard.  If you do FB, you can see a sped-up version of it being built here.  Since that shipyard is upriver, it must have escaped detection by river watchers upstream.  Glenn?

When I saw the billboat Sunday, the image/advert changed every few seconds.  The vessel size is estimated at 72′  . . . with 65′ screens.  What’s next . . . a billboat that carries sports events, political debates, feature films, documentaries about the harbor?  What else?

Many thanks to Jennifer, Patrick, Matt, and Paul for use of these photos.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for a sunny day and for a certain pink-hulled ship called ONE Stork to either arrive or depart in bright daylight.  She arrived in the sixth boro and departed again, twice . . . in the dark hours.

 

Here’s an expanded view of a photo from yesterday’s post here.   What you see in the distance is bridge inspection unit, 2018.

The small tug is Seaway Maid, and it’s hard to believe I’m posting a photo of it today for only the first time.  Last year this bridge inspection unit was moved through the Erie Canal by Arnold D.  Actually, Seaway Maid used to be Lil Joe.  Here is a complete page of Seaway Marine Group equipment.

Once the tugs had full facilities and transportation to and from the job site was arranged network-wide, but this is a new era.

The primer painted barge, here Fort Plain, has floated around the NYS Canals for a long time.  Note the rivets?

Judging by the dimensions of the barge, it was once Dipper Dredge #1 aka Fort Plain a by the NYS Barge Canal.  The dredge was acquired by the state in 1931.  As acquired, she was Derrick Boat #10, shown below 95 years ago!

I’m wondering what tug that was moving the derrick boat around.  Any help?

All photos by Jake Van Reenen and the archives.

And another reminder . .  . the NYS Canal Conference is happening on Staten Island next week.  I will show Graves of Arthur Kill and speak on a panel about the hidden places of the sixth born this coming Monday and Tuesday.

 

 

As the canal boat reefing process goes on, new equipment is working.  Since my fortune has been to stumble onto both new boats, let’s have a look.  Unit 1 was in amsterdam the other night, and

Unit 2 was at the Genesee Crossing.  Both have been integrated into the work schedule.

Here’s Unit 2 on the Gradual, with Lockport–endangered–alongaside. I’m told the wheelhouse on Unit 2 is telescoping.

Back to Amsterdam . . .

where Unit 1 is on a sectional barge whose

raked sections were on the bank.

All photos by will Van Dorp, who is Chicago bound, hence the title CB. .

 

Click here for one of many posts on buoy boats.  Just recently I learned the first three wooden buoy boats were built in Tonawanda by the Richardson Boat Company.  That explains why they have lines that hint at yacht origins, no matter they were designed for maintenance tasks on the Canal.  The next two photos I took back in 2014.
And here’s Cookie’s story:
“I started about 18 years ago taking care of the flower bed that was in front of the boat.  Over the  years the bed was falling apart.    This year I decided to build a new flower bed.  I am currently working with our local Boy Scouts.  I designed the flower bed and they will build it as an Eagle Project along with helping me paint the boat.  As for the boat over the years I have watched the boat deteriorate and thought what better time than now to update it.  It is  a piece of our history that was just rotting away and I didn’t want to see this happen, especially since the boat faces one of the main entrances to our city.
Here is Cookie’s  task list:
The flower bed and dirt were removed.  Ditto the “Welcome to Lockport” sign to be cleaned and repaired.
The boat was sanded and scraped.
Holes in the boat were patched.
New paint applied.   Old windows removed, holes caulked, old door replaced, windows made and painted, and new windows cut from Lexan.
Inside there are a couple tanks that are being cleaned and rust proofed. The inside the hull is scraped and debris removed.
Tasks remaining:  rustproof paint the interior, re-install the tanks, install new marine decking, rebuild the flowerbed and plant it, re-install the welcome sign, install a “Thank you” sign to individuals and businesses that have helped in the project.
Put on new BB 110 sign.  Raise three flags:  US, NY, and NYS Canals.
Hats off to Cookie and her crew.
And while we’re on the western end of the Canal, check out this excellent addition to blogs about the NYS Canals.  It’s called  Travels with Tug DeWitt Clinton.
Meanwhile, up in central New York, here’s an article about a floating protest of Canal vessel reefing from the Finger Lakes Times.

The last time we saw Jay Bee V, she was solo and reportedly beginning an epic.  That was nine days ago, and now Jay Bee V (JBV) has taken over this large white barge from larger river tugs and is heading west with a a flotilla that began over a month ago in Brooklyn.  Click here for specifics on this journey as well as sponsors, and there are many.

Arguably, the epic began in 1868, and I quote here from the link above:  “1868, the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company relocated to Corning, via the New York Waterways, and evolved into the company that is today known as Corning Incorporated. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of this pivotal journey, CMoG will launch GlassBarge—a 30’ x 80’ canal barge equipped with CMoG’s patented all-electric glassmaking equipment—in Brooklyn Bridge Park on May 17, 2018.”

What’s pushing the “glass barge?”

Here’s a top down view of JBV, and

the boats of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

Way in the distance, that’s the glass barge and beyond that, lock E-11.   Here from tug44 a few years back is more info on lock E-11.

If this photo illustrates nothing, it shows how JBV‘s  captain relies on understanding and communication from the watch stander on the barge.

 

Above and below, the flotilla passes Fonda, NY,

before locking up through E-13.

 

The glass barge flotilla had given its 8th set of shows (by my count)  in Amsterdam the day before.  To understand the impact of these shows, think canal-traveling circus of the 19th century.  Here they were heading for a set of shows in Canajoharie.  

 

More to come.  Again, if you have not checked out this link for their schedule–the water portion of which ends in Watkins Glen on September 16, click here.   Below is a vase I witnessed a glassblower make in less than 15 minutes!

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who reiterates that I take all the photos credited to me on this blog;  any photos taken by anyone else–collaboration I encourage–I attribute accordingly.

More photos of the Great Race soon.

 

 

Thanks to Steve Wunder for the photo below taken yesterday in Fonda NY.  To the right, it’s a new 2018 Marine Inland Fabricators 25′-3″x14′x5′ Clydesdale pushtug, either hull 323 or hull 324.

BUT, to the left and much more significant, it’s Urger, a few miles east of where the 1901 (!!) tug is said to be intended as a land display, sans integral hull, i.e., it’ll never float or tour the waterways again.

I intend this post as a followup to last week’s here, where I wanted to illustrate what we New Yorkers stand to lose, if this lock 13 park plan gets carried out.   In following up, my intention is to underscore our potential loss.

The photo below shows Urger in 1940 in Waterford, operating as a steam tug. At that point, the tug was already 39 years old.

Urger was launched in 1901 as fish tug  Henry J. Dornbos, by Johnston Brothers, a fact still visible on the bitt below.  The company was founded in 1864 by J. W. Johnston, a direct descendant of the none other than James Watt.

The rest of the photos here come from the archives of Bob Stopper, canal ambassador extraordinaire based in Lyons, NY.

Urger has likely been seen and touched by many more people than any other Canal tug or other New York State symbol, particularly because from 1991 until 2016, it crisscrossed the state’s waterways from May until October, doing programs for 4th graders and festivals for the general public.  Schools bused kids to the canal parks to learn about NYS history, technology, and the environment.  Before any program, crew cleaned, painted, and polished.

 

Think about 1901.  Life expectancy for US men was 47.6 years, and for women, 50.6!  Companies like Harley Davidson and Ford wouldn’t form until 1903, also the year the Wright Brothers made their first flight.  There were 15 automobiles registered in the 45 states of the US, where the population was all of 75 million; Utah had been the last state to enter the union in 1896.  The world’s tallest building was Philadelphia City Hall at 548.’  US Steel had not yet been created, and Standard Oil would go another decade before being broken up.  RMS Cedric was the world’s largest ship, and Titanic was not even on the drawing board. The US was involved in a shooting conflict in China. 

Literally thousands of New Yorkers of all parts of the state and ages have benefitted from Urger at a canal port near them, like this future mariner.

Time is critical here.  Unless minds get changed, we could be days or even hours away from Urger‘s life as a boat permanently sunk, which IMHO, would be a significant loss.  Please share this post with friends, local schools, and other networks.  Also, contact your federal, state, and local political leaders.

Click here for most of my previous Urger posts.

. . . illustrating what will be lost if present course is maintained.   If you don’t know what’s likely to happen imminently, Urger is NOT to be reefed.  But, it’ll be beached at Thruway Lock 13 “living history” exit, with holes “punched” in the hull and that beaching will cost –I’m told–over $3 million.

Why should you care?

First,  listen to this engine, as I recorded it four years ago on a calm day above Amsterdam NY.  Click the thumbnail below left for the sound from inside the engine room and . . . right, from outside.  It’s like the steady panting of a racing horse.  Click here for a list of remaining Atlas-Imperial engines, although I don’t know how out-of-date this info may be.

  

Here’s that same engine as seen from below, starboard looking aft, and

here, the camera is looking aft along the port side.

Here’s the view port side looking down.

For whatever value it has, Urger is

one of about two dozen NY vessels on the National Register of Historic Places, has been on that list since November 29, 2001.    Click here for what that means in terms of significantly changing the historic floating structure.

Urger was built by Johnston Brothers Shipyard in Ferrysburg, Michigan, in 1901, originally as H. J. Dornbos, a fish tug.  My point . . . if she’s been around this long and is in this good shape, that’s prime reason to keep her that way.

Urger faced significant change before, back in the late 1980s, ending Canal maintenance duty in October 1987.  Then, Schuyler Meyer (1918–1997) stepped forward with a proposal to save her by making her the “ambassador vessel” of the NYS Canals that she did become.  During those ambassador years, scores of thousands of folks–especially school kids–saw her, walked on her, learned from her about NYS.  Read the whole article below if you have time, but signifiant info is concentrated in the rightmost column.   Look at the image he’s holding in the photo.

Urger is a flagship of NYS history, having made public appearances all over the confluent waterways of the state from Lockport (I don’t have photos of her in Buffalo) to

the famous culvert east of Medina to

Oswego, shown here at Lock O-8 with tug Syracuse to

the Upper Bay of New York City, and all the great little towns in between.   I lack the photos myself, but I know she’s been to the southernmost point of the Finger Lakes and upper reaches of Lake Champlain from this video clip.

So what can be done . . .  especially since, given the imminence of converting Urger to a “static display,” time is so short?

First, share this post with anyone you know who might care about Urger.  Seek out your loud, articulate, reasonable, and well-known advocates who know [connected] people and can speak out in the meetings, press, and blogs.  It’s summer, so key political and agency leaders might not be reading their mail, forwarding it to folks with less decision-making power.  Congressman Paul Tonko would like to hear from you. State legislators might be contacted in their home districts, where you can even walk into their local offices.   Talk to your local mayors, business leaders, and union officials.  I was born upstate but haven’t lived there since the 1960s.

Educators, especially in Canal corridor towns,  have benefitted from the Urger program over the past quarter century.  They might choose to exercise power through NYSUT rather than as individuals if anyone in to better get the attention of government.

Finally, if the choice were between spending no money to beach Urger vs. spending money to keep it afloat and active, that would lend support to the idea of beaching her.  BUT, significant money (in the seven digits) will be spent to beach her at Lock 13 Thruway exit.

Thanks for your attention.  All the color photos here were taken by Will Van Dorp, except the one below, taken by Chris Kenyon in Port Gibson in 2014.

Personal disclosure:  I worked as deckhand on Urger during the 2014 season, on a leave-of-absence from my other life.  I spent about 100 nights and days aboard her between June 6 and October 30, i.e., about 2/3 of the time between those dates.  Some of the hundreds of references to the boat on this blog can be found here.

I hope you agree with me that NYS gains more by keeping her afloat and active than by beaching her.  Pass it on, if you agree.

 

Following on the photos from April 29 and May 19, here is finale for Tender 6 and Reliable of Utica.  As of this posting, they are 2.5 nautical miles off Shinnecock and 80′ down, precisely placed and not sunk.  My guess is that soon this section of this chart will be updated.

Here is the last daylight for

Tender 6.

Here’s the final journey

 

for Reliable

of Utica.

Thanks for use of these photos to a generous gentleman. More photos can be seen here.

 

See a statement at the end of this post.

The next vessel headed for the reef is Reliable of Utica, once a twin of Syracuse of Syracuse, which has been featured here in many previous posts. Fred of tug44 has also gotten some photos I have not.

For years–I’d estimate about two decades–Reliable has languished out of the water, as seen in photo below, which I took in June 2014.  Click here (and scroll to the third photo) for a photo of the bow while on the hard.

Its approximately 100-ton shell was lifted from the bank and placed in this  . . . coffin  (well, what else?) for a final journey, likely its only journey to the salt water.

As of publication today, Reliable –in its cortege–is being pushed by Rebecca Ann in proximity of the GW Bridge.

Lucy H pushed her through 22 locks–if my count is right–on her way to the flight, where I took these photos.

Many have said reefing might not be the best “re-purposing” of Reliable and other boats, but, as you can see, the migration of these vessels seaward has begun.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been here yesterday in this glorious light to see

Reliable make her final exit from the NYS Canal system.

 

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who wishes there’d been at least a single bagpiper for solemnity as Reliable sank into the chamber, foreshadowing the descent she’ll make soon into the briny not-so-deep but from which she’ll never emerge.

For last month’s first post in this series, Canal Reef Express 1, click here.

For a sense of how that bagpiper would sound and look, click on the YouTube link near the end of this tugster post from 2010.

What follows is a statement from Tom Prindle and posted on the Canal Society of New York FB page.

This comment was in the post with the Reliable photos, but it should be read on its own here, with no photos. Tom Prindle is a leader in preserving canal history. #savetheurger

“The scuttling of the Reliable and other canal vessels and the impending beaching of the venerable and much beloved Tug URGER begs the question with all due respect : who is making these decisions and how are they qualified to decide what is historic and what is not ? What should be saved and what should be destroyed ?These vessels need to be evaluated by those professionals charged with protecting the historic resources of our state. The Reliable may not look like much as she now is but she and the other vessels slated to be sunk are unique artifacts of New York State history. What is being planned for the 117 year old URGER is horrible. Her destruction was first proposed some 30 years ago. Instead John Jermano and Schuyler Meyer “re-imagined” the old tug as a floating classroom and ambassador of the NYS Canal System. Thousands of school kids from Harlem to Tonawanda have been welcomed aboard her. Now somebody has decided that for some reason must stop, Surely we can do better than that.”

Hats off,  Thanks, Tom.

 

 

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