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On this date six years ago I had the good fortune of spending the whole day on Oneida Lake on Ward’s Island, a repurposed Electric Boat-built 1929 ferry but then idled by a bridge between Manhattan and Ward’s Island.  The self-propelled ship, once a double ended ferry,  was acquired by NYS for the Barge Canal in July 1937 and repurposed as a crane ship in 1939.   That fully-rotating 65′ crane had lift capacity of 10 tons.

Here are some photos I took back in 2015, playing with different settings on a camera that was new at the time.  Our starting point was just east of lock E-23, technically in Brewerton NY. Temperatures went up to the 70s and there was no wind, a perfect late fall day in central NYS.

The mission was to replace the navigation (summer) buoys with spar (winter) buoys, low-profile, placeholders.

The blue-only photo looks west, and the full color one below looks east and shows the actual red or green color of the winter placeholders.

On the mirror like surface of the lake, there was an illusion of flying over the planet.

The summer buoys were plucked out for refurbishing over the winter.  Once a buoy was plucked and raised, Ward’s Island crew detached the anchor chain from the summer buoy, and tied that chain off to a cleat as the crane operator swung the buoy

Like I said earlier, the calm weather on the lake made for a floating-in-space illusion.

 

Some of the buoys are bolted to artificial concrete islands.

The wheelhouse, along with the whole rest of the boat, spent some time in Lyons dry dock from 2016 until she was reefed in salt water in 2018, where she now lies.

All photos on this date in 2015, WVD.

 

I hope you enjoy looking back 10 years as much as I do, although some might say I live in the past a little too much.  Here’s some dense traffic, l to r, Twisted Sisters, Lucinda Smith, Maurania III, and Petrozavosk

Up in Lyons NY at the drydock, Governor Roosevelt shows her deep 8′ 6″ belly. Rosie will turn 100 in summer 2027.

Greenland Sea . . . one of my favorites is likely on her terminal lay up.

Does Duty still do duty on the Delaware?

Maria J is now Nicholas Vinik.

Charles D. is still working hard  in the boro, as she was here helping Zim Virginia around Bergen Point.  I do miss the walkway on the WEST side of the Bayonne Bridge.

This Peter is now Long Island . . . or Long Peter if you like.

Resolute assists Maersk Kentucky around that same point.

Amberjack is now Kirby Dann Ocean white and blue, and some of the Bouchard boats are now this Penn Maritime gray. 

Giulio Verne was in town for some submarine cabling, and I’ve heard tell there was a fabulous Italian chef on board.  She’s now docked in Naples IT.

I went to Detroit for Thanksgiving, and made a stop at Mariner’s Church, alluded to in “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” [In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed.  In the maritime sailors’ cathedral.  The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine time…]  .  I’m told the pastor at the church objected to the word musty and now Lightfoot sings it as “In a rustic old hall in Detroit …”  In fact, you can confirm that here.

And let me throw two more in.  I took this photo seven years ago from Rhinecliff as I headed south the day I completed my season on tugboat Urger.  This was my way of reconnecting with the sixth boro. Maryland is now Liz Vinik.

And finally, a photo from Jason LaDue . . .  it’s Grouper as she looked in 2000.  A week ago her second auction concluded with a winning bid of $4850, but I don’t know who tendered that bid.  According to my source, no movement has happened since the auction concluded. 

Happy November.  All photos except Jason’s by WVD.

 

When this tow came off Oneida Lake headed west, 

I wondered how many folks would interpret this incorrectly, that this was a tow and not a push.

Ditto . . . heading into lock E-23.

 

Of course, regular readers of this blog know precisely what is going on. After a long hiatus at the dry dock in Waterford, Urger has been pushed across the state to the dry dock in Lysander to be hauled out and mothballed, maybe and hopefully to be revived when the time is right, like a cicada or a future astronaut traveling light years in suspended animation . . . .

For more people than not in the “canal corridor” of New York State, Urger is without doubt that best known tugboat, the only one that thousands of New Yorkers have set foot on . . . . 

Who is that unmasked fellow with a t-shirt that reads “tug boating is a contact sport”?

I have it on the best authority that exactly five years ago yesterday, he was in the Urger wheelhouse piloting the now nameless vessel through this very same lock, very much mechanically alive.

 

All photos yesterday, WVD, who offers this post as contribution to #URGERjourney.

Edna A has appeared on this blog by that name;  it was also here as HR Hawk

Yesterday, Labor Day, I took no photos, except one of a wood sign carving project in progress.

It turns out . . .  Labor Day 2020 I took no photos either;  these were sent to me though by Josh Watts, and embarrassingly, I’ve not posted them until now.  Sometimes I get into a groove and lose track of things. These are two new generation NYS Canals tugs and a floating gradall, maintaining canal depth.  It’s a great shot.

Here’s anorther from that date and that area of the west-of-Rochester portion of the canal, Adams Basin. The vantage point is a house barge from Erie Canal Adventures.

Labor Day 2019 I had the good fortune to be laboring, and taking photos, and doing that in Cleveland.  Self-unloading freighter Algoma Buffalo was winding its way down the Cuyahoga

with assistance from  two tugs, Cleveland and Iowa, launched 2017 and 1915 respectively!! You caught that 102-year difference in age, right!  Also, that waterway used simultaneously for commerce and recreation . . . that’s the Cuyahoga, you know, the one that caught fire a number of times a half century ago.  That is a story of concerted problem-solving, concerted means people with different ideas solving problems together.

Labor Day 2018 I was exploring Chicago and saw this massive Muddy Waters mural.

Just beyond this navigation aid, you turn to port and enter the federal lock that leads to the Chicago River.

Labor Day 2017 I was in Manitowoc.  Then and many other times I’ve seen and wondered about Halten, a 1966 Swedish Coast Guard vessel (maybe not since painted-over raised letters on the stern say Oslo)  that appears to be a yacht that might not move much.  Maybe it just moves when I’ve not been paying attention.

Avenger IV passed us on Lake Michigan, where lots of fishing was happening from small boats.

Labor Day 2016 I had just left Ogdensburg downbound, and was passing the Canadian port of Johnstown, where the 1943 freighter Mississagi

was discharging cargo,

and a half hour later, we were still looking back at Johnstown in the beauty of the morning colors.

I could go farther back but won’t now.  I’ve no idea why I’ve not taken any photos the past two Labor Days.  September 5, 2022,  I need to get back to work. Thanks to Josh for the first two photos;  all others, WVD.

Looking ahead, just a reminder that after the TugBoat RoundUp, I’ll be road foto tripping a lot, and that might be no posts some days.

I just happened to look at the August 2014 section of the archive, and this was the engine room at that time of the living, breathing tugboat Urger.

The top photo shows the Atlas-Imperial fore-to-aft along the portside, and below, it’s the opposite . . .  starboard side aft-to-fore.

Below is that same view as above, except with a tighter frame on the top of the engine.  On my YouTube channel here,   are several videos of this engine running and Urger underway. 

Below from early September 2015 are three NYS Canals boats, l to r, Tender #3, Gov. Cleveland, and Urger. . . .  all old and in jeopardy.

At that same 2015 Tugboat Roundup that precipitated the photo above, notice the juxtaposition of old and new:  passing in front of the 1914 Lehigh Valley 79 is

Solar Sal, which a month later would earn distinction as the first solar vessel to transit the canal from Buffalo to the Hudson with four tons of cargo, as a demonstration of its potential. Solar Sal‘s builder was David Borton, whose website has all the info on his designs for marine solar power.

A story I’d missed until looking something else up yesterday was David Borton’s 2021 adventure, sailing on solar in Alaskan waters.

And that brings this zig-zag post to another story linking the Canal and Alaska. 

Last August Pilgrim made its way through New York State to the Great Lakes and eventually overwintered in Duluth. I took photos above and below on August 1, 2020.

Earlier this summer, Pilgrim was loaded on a gooseneck trailer

so that it could transit the continent

along the Interstates to the Salish Sea.   As of last week they’d made Ketchikan, and their next stop will be Kodiak Island.  Eventually they clear customs and their next stop will be Russia.

All photos except the last three, WVD.  Pilgrim photos attributed to Sergey Sinelnik.

The Waterfront Museum in Lehigh Valley 79 is now home to a high-res livestream harbor cam aimed from Red Hook;  check it out here.

 

 

Happy 120 years old, Urger!  I urge you  to read the note at the bottom of this post.

And . . . .Oops!  I read the timer wrong. Bidding for Grouper, in Lyons NY,  ends about six hours from now. 

Lyons is a county seat, but it’s possible to take a photo of lock E-27, right in the town,  such that it appears to be rural.  A row of buildings to the right separates the canal here from a major street, Water Street;  to the left, there’s a strip mall along NY-31.

Lyons is the home of Muralmania, and it shows;  this was one of two murals just west of lock E-27.  The next lock, E-28A, is about a mile away.

Just before getting to lock E-28A, you see the section workshop buildings.

That’s Route 31 paralleling the canal.

At the top of the lock chamber, you have a great view over into the Lyons Dry dock.  Whatever is in the dry dock during the navigation season is surplus, in need of repair, or beyond repair.  Grouper is there, its rusty stack with its yellow ring visible in the foreground.

Staged and waiting for deployment are a set of tugboats, dredges, and a quarters barge aka “floating lodging,” like the one being auctioned off with bidding ending late this afternoon.  To repeat, I’d misreported closing of bidding in an earlier post, but today it ends.

We negotiate another low rail bridge before coming up to lock E-28B, about 4 miles to the west of E-28A.

 

In the port of Newark, I catch up to Sweet Love, a small trawler I caught at the Narrows last August.  The lovely storefronts in the village disappeared thanks to the misguided efforts in the 1960s called “urban renewal.”

West of Newark at Wide Waters is the hamlet of Port Gibson, Ontario County’s only port along the Erie Canal.  During the 19th-century iteration of the canal, this was a port.

The bridge here has just been refurbished.

From there, the canal narrows as we head west.  The rain started falling as well. 

 

 

We had miles and locks to go, but we called the trip “over” when we got to the Port of Palmyra, because of a breach in a spillway ahead. 

All photos, WVD.

Sign the card here to celebrate Urger‘s 120 years.  Its future too is threatened.

I’ll return to the Erie Canal tomorrow, but for now . . . the clock is ticking louder.

In exactly 24 hours, Grouper will thaw out;  a new owner, the person with the highest bid, will be acclaimed.  I’ve been following the fate of this boat in Wayne County for so many years that I can’t look away as we get to this milestone.  So have a lot of people who live nearby, or live farther away and have been intrigued about it since it arrived.  Many others know it from its various places of work in the Upper Great Lakes, having some family connection going back many decades.

The big question is . . . Will it be scrapped or reimagined as a vessel of some sort.  Reimagining has been a theme of NYS canal efforts in recent years, right?

Here’s one of my first photos of the boat, literally frozen in place, a great metaphor for its years of being frozen in time, showing remarkable resilience to the ravages of rust.  In all this time of neglect and in the absence of bilge pumps, it has not sunk, has not gone down to a muddy grave where the catfish and gobies lurk.

Friends have devoted countless hours reimagining Grouper.

Lee Rust sent along these diagrams highlighting the hull similarities, the 1912 tugboat and

a late 19th century sail/steam half model.

Lee writes:  “Maybe we’ve been misunderstanding the possibilities of Grouper by getting [ourselves] stuck on the old tug story. Here’s what she really is. Subtract Kahlenberg, add ballast, masts & sails. Maybe an auxiliary electric motor to turn the propeller. Voila! Clean and green and good for another 100 years. Piece of cake! Only [a day] left to decide to take that plunge. Here’s [an aerial] view of the hull model revealing the significant difference in beam [and bow design] from Grouper, but the profiles are almost identical. This even shows where the masts would go.

 

A simpler approach might be to remove 15 tons of Kahlenberg and replace with 7 tons of batteries and an electric propulsion system. This might be enough to decrease draft by the 3 feet needed to maneuver in the current Canal. Compare the waterline on the model to that of Grouper.  Image below shows ship model by my friend Rob Napier.

Looking back at this hypothetical lift diagram I made [above],  aside from the difference in beam, the antique hull model could be that of any ‘City’ class Great Lakes tug. (You can pick out the ‘City’ class tugs here.]  The ‘lifted’ waterline on Grouper is awfully close to that of the model. I suppose this hull form was pretty normal back at the end of the 19th century and the tugboat designers of the time just went with what they knew and hoped the vessels wouldn’t sink when they threw in all that coal and machinery.

OK, I know… daydreaming again. Must be time for my nap.”

Thanks,  Lee.  As I said before, lots of people have been looking at these “excessed canal vessels” for a long time now, and tomorrow, in the heat of summer, Grouper will thaw out.  May the highest bidder win and show exuberance in reimagining canal technology.

 

Related:  This NYTimes article from this past week which examines sail designs on cargo vessels is worth a look.

 

 

Here I get to prove once again that you can never step into the same river twice, or you can never see the same stretch of canal the same way twice.  Click here to see what I did with previous set of photos.

The photo below was taken from the NE corner of the triangular island I’ll now call Midway Junction (the CS and Erie Canals meet here), Midway Triangle, or (my contribution) Tadadaho Island,  if you want to learn about this indigenous spiritual leader, click here.

Two miles west from Tadadaho Island, we approach Lock E-25 in

May’s Point NY.  Click here to see the location of the lock relative to the NYS Thruway.

What would you expect to see when the lock is in a National Wildlife Refuge?

A small boat could cross here and enter Tschache (“shockey”) Pool. 

There’s a campground and marina here.

Lots of these and other wildlife are here.  Someone on the boat saw a coyote on the south bank.

The Clyde River intersects the Erie Canal several times.  Follow the channel markers. 

About six miles farther, lock E-26 appears.

See that rusty bridge a quarter mile beyond the lock?

It’s the E-93 West Shore RR bridge;  see both outside and inside here. It’s the bane of any boat that exceeds 15′ on this stretch of the Canal.

But we made it through. 

Along long portions of the Erie Canal the railroad follows along the bank.  Chances are quite strong that these containers not long ago were at sea, transferred onto railcars in the sixth boro.

Again, follow the channel markers.

Right around that bend is the village of Lyons, county seat of Wayne County NY.  The small boat Cayuga ahead of the captain’s view is a “drive it yourself” rental from Erie Canal Adventures.

All photos, WVD.

What I said about the futility of trying to step into the same river, you have a “three-fer” here: here is my post on my canal bike ride from October 2020.

 

Taken from the east end of Van Cleef Lake, we’ve now traveled less than 10 miles from Seneca Lakes/Stivers Marina.

C/S lock 2/3 is a double lock:  you descend in lock 3 only to find that the lower gate of 3 is the upper gate of 2.  In the photo below, we’ve exited the lower gate of 2 and looking back at the closed lower gate of 3. 

Technically, the C/S Canal here follows the created path of the Seneca River.  A dike along the left side here keeps the river separate from the Montezuma Swamp, allowing navigation of a vessel as large as Colonial Belle. 

Cottages along the right side are mere inches above the surface of the water.

At the 3.5-mile mark, the right side opens:  that 39-mile lake, averaging less than 2-miles wide and at deepest point 435′ deep, will get you to Ithaca.  But Ithaca remains for another trip another day far in the future, as C. P. Cavafy would recommend….

In 1800 a wooden bridge traveled from the point of land to the left, and crossed 5412′ to the opposite side, to the distant right.  It lasted until 1808, when the winter destroyed it.  Two subsequent toll bridges replaced it.

We turn north into C/S 1, aka the “mud lock” because of the water there.

A few miles north of the lock, we approach the I-90 NYS Thruway Bridge.

Less than a half mile we arrive at a triangular island, carved off the NW corner of Kipps Island,  that is the approximate midpoint between Tonawanda and Waterford. 

The darker water here

comes from the Montezuma Swamp and Clyde river;  to the right is the water that comes from Lakes Cayuga and Seneca.

Here’s a satellite view of the triangular island. In the next post, we’ll turn to the west, to the left here and toward Lock E-25.

All photos, except the satellite view, WVD.

Postscript:  In the satellite view above, upper right corner, one the “Richmond aqueduct ruins” mark, below is one of my photos of it, although we’ll heading to the left, aka west.  Getting back to the last three lines of Cavafy, referred to above and slightly modified:  “And if you find her [in poor condition], Ithaca has not deceived you.  Wise as you have become, with so much experience, you must already have understood what Ithaca means.”

Unrelated;  As of this writing Friday morning, Grouper high bid is $150, Chancellor is $310, QB tugster clubhouse is $520, and bridge erection boat is $890.

 

Since I’m again on a gallivant-away from home, outside, and looking for scenes and boats and trucks to photograph-the next four days will be posts of this one-day trip.  Below is my ride that day.   It was an 8-hour ride the length of the Cayuga/Seneca Canal and then about 25 miles of the Erie Canal, and nine locks.  Stating point was technically Waterloo NY and ending was Palmyra.  In all we dropped over 100′ from Seneca Lake to the junction with the Erie, and then heading west, we rose about the same distance to the east side of Palmyra.

Below is my conveyance.

In the enclosed passenger cabin, this builder’s plate is proudly displayed.  Since June 1961, this boat has worked on both US east and west coast;  in fact, when the current owners bought this boat about 25 years ago, it was working in San Francisco and they decided to take the 60′ boat back to the East coast and onto the Erie Canal on its own bottom!!  It did have a pilot house at that time.  For photos of Colonial Belle‘s engine and more, click here on this report from tug44.

Before we go on this leg 1 of 4 reports, other 1961 products of the Blount shipyard include Las Cruces in Panama, Michael Cosgrove in the sixth boro, and Kasai, probably sunk somewhere in the DRC. Another 1961 sister vessel Martha Washington worked many years in Boston, and may be out of service.  Any info?

The photo below was taken at the dock at Stivers Marina in Waterloo.  Beyond the research vessel William Scandling ahead of the sail boats, Seneca Lake stretches slightly more than 35 miles southward to Watkins Glen.  Four miles or less wide, it’s more than 600′ deep.   A team plans to survey more of the lake bottom this summer.

From Stivers, we did a 180 degree turn and headed for the Erie Canal, putting us immediately under the first of many low bridges.

Really, there are lots of overhead obstacles that could not be negotiated with a wheelhouse. Note the bimini folder forward and the captain rising back up.

This is a typical scene along the top end of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, although more trees are being cleared, including some for this summer’s idea . . . glamping.

The distance from Seneca Lake to lock C/S-4

is 5.02 miles.

As we head to Seneca Falls, we pass the Ludovico Sculpture Trail. The conception goes back over 20 years when a person of artistic interests moved from Buffalo to Seneca Falls, and installed two sculptures on her front yard, irritating some neighbors.

This one celebrates Gould Pumps, founded by Seabury S. Gould in Seneca Falls in 1848!!

The former Seneca Falls Knitting Mills, which made countless pairs of white socks, is now the Women’s National Hall of Fame.   When I first saw the building, it was windowless and derelict.

All photos, WVD.   In the next mile . . . tomorrow’s post, we’ll travel across Van Cleef Lake to C/S locks 3 and 2.

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