You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Urger’ category.
Here’s the post I did the day my season on the Urger ended. The boat seriously needs a reboot now, a rewind, since it will NOT been operating season of 2017. None of the photos here have been posted before, and there’s a surprise at the end of this post, stemming from a conversation last night I am grateful for. Here’s Urger approaches the guard gate at the top of E-6 on the last day of the 2014 season.
Here the morning of that last run, she’s docked above E-11. May she not grow into the bank the way that fence has been consumed by the tree.
The entire four-person crew fits into this shot at E-14.
As the sun clears the horizon, Urger‘s out and running east, here under the onramp to the Thruway below E-17.
A few seconds earlier, she exited E-17. Note the 17 at the top of the lock frame.
Bathed in the warm October sunrise, Urger waits for the guillotine door to raise before exiting the chamber.
Here’s the boat on the wall in Little Falls in midsummer 2014.
A month or so back while it was still winter, I returned to E-17, and there was ice on the wall and in the chamber, and I put my camera away quickly so that my hands could return to the pockets where I’d stuffed chemical heat packs.
This would have been the 25th season for the 1901-built Urger as an ambassador/educational vessel. This role for her was created –as I understand it– through a private/public partnership fronted by Schuyler Meyer. Here’s some more of the story of the boat and the program, which was initially operated by SCOW, State Council on Waterways, which appears to have had its last event in 2009.
At the start of this post, I mentioned a surprise. Last night (finally) I uploaded to YouTube here a half dozen short recordings I made of of Urger underway, with closeups of her Atlas-Imperial engine. Crank up the sound and enjoy them. Please share widely. The program and the boat are too precious to be permanently lost. Here is a post I did when Urger last visited NYC’s sixth boro.
All photos and opinion entirely by Will Van Dorp. Thanks, MB, for the conversation.
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.
Chartiers was considered a dredge tender. Here she’s pushing a scow somewhere in the Pittsburgh area.
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.
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.”
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.”
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 imp in my head wants to mess with the title and permutate this to “tugmotives and locoboats,” and I’m guessing way back when power began to be applied to hulls, there were those who thought they were seeing “loco boats” but I digress. First, a historical photo to set the context.
Just east of local 19, here’s Margot pushing a barge underneath the main line. I don’t know the exact number, but these rails cross over the canal at least a half dozen times between Waterford and Tonawanda.
As you’ll see in most of the next photos, it’s hard to get a photo of a complete tug and a complete locomotive if you happen to be moving on one of the other. Difficulty notwithstanding, I kept on trying.
With a drone I could have gotten the locomotive . . .
or the rest of the tugboat.
I know there’s no locomotive in sight, but the boxcars were colorful.
We had to wait at the top of lock 19 and my camera was ready, but no trains came. As soon as we descended and started heading eastward . . . one passed.
When one passed right near us, of course it was backlit.
I took this shot from the upper wheelhouse.
So at the end of the season, I had to conclude this was my loco-tug moneyshot, which had to be taken from neither.
All photos by Will Van Dorp, whose focus will soon be leaving the canal. Having said that, part of me wants to get back up there when the water levels are drawn down and the snow covers the ground. Click here for some history of the relations rail/canal in the first quarter century after the opening of the waterway. Click here for a basic introduction to the canal levels monitoring from the state hydrologist.
You can find my previous “golden” posts here. From the first photo below until the seventh and last one, only twelve minutes pass. The setting is lock 17 in Little Falls, NY, where the lift/descent is 40.5 feet. .
Let’s start with 0703 hr on October 27 last.
Six minutes later . . . the chamber has drained and the sun has emerged from the clouds.
The door starts to raise as the counterweight descends . . . and against the south wall, it’s Urger . . . behind a wall of drips . . .
At 0715 . . . the captain has rung the forward bell and
now squints, looking into the sun for navigational aids on the way east to Amsterdam, about six hours away.
All photos by Will Van Dorp, who has postponed dealing with more unfinished business until tomorrow.
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.
In a previous post, I mentioned I was very subjectively dividing the canal into zones from west to east, and I continue that here, and this post is the most personal. Place a compass needle in the place I did kindergarten through grade 12, and make a circle around it with a radius of about 2o miles. All these photos were taken inside that circle. Although I did move away from there almost 50 years ago, I’m still surprised how little I recognize. Of course, the water perspective here is one I never had as a kid. Start here, I’ve driven on that road . . . Route 31 between Macedon and Palmyra a hundred plus times, but I did feel like an amnesiac seeing it this way.
Leaving lock 29, there were a lot of folks, but I didn’t know them.
This is the beginning of the “spillway” I needed to cross when I walked to first grade. The bridge–much like the one in the distance–had an open grate deck, which terrified me the first few days.
I was happy that a friend waved from the Galloway Bridge on the westward trip and another on the eastward trip.
Route 31, travelled many times, lies just a hundred feet of so off the right side of the photo.
Port Gibson, population less than 500 in 2010. New York state must have a few dozen towns, cities, hamlets, and/or villages with “port” in the name.
I know this farm on a drumlin well in Newark, NY. Although the population less than 10,000, Newark is what I considered a big town.
Beyond those trees to the right is a principal street in Newark.
This is the port of Newark.
Just outside Lyons, NY, population under 4000 and shrinking, awaits Grouper, subject of many posts including this recent one.
Inside the village of Lyons . . . a mural on a wall that borders the location of the previous iterations of the canal depicts what might once have been here.
Outside of town, these “wide ditches” are the actual “enlarged canal” of the 19th century.
And ruins like these . . . I never knew existed even though I knew the place name “Lock Berlin.”
Why did I never know the railroad through my world then crossed in places like this . . .?
I’d seen these grain bins from the road but never imagined the canal lay right behind–or “in front of” –them
Quoth the eagle . . . you can’t go home again if you never really knew your home to begin with.
Al photos by Will Van Dorp. Many thanks to Bob Stopper who showed me what I should have seen a half century ago.
I’m moving eastward from yesterday’s post with my very subjective dividing of the NYS Canal system into zones. Very subjective, we then move into New York State’s third largest city–Rochester, which also happens to be what I learned about as “the city” as a boy. If someone worked “in the city,” that meant Rochester. In the photo below, technically in Greece, you can see the junction lock, the gates leading to a lock on the original and possibly the enlarged canal. Those iterations of the Erie Canal went straight here, the Barge Canal (the early 20th century iteration) forked off to the right, bypassing the city of Rochester.
I hadn’t considered what “bypassing Rochester” would look like, and my zones 1 and 2 were portions of the canal I’d never seen from the water. What it looks like is lots of bridges, with signs to places I knew but otherwise no traces, no familiar skyline.
Approach lighting system for the airport I took my first flight from,
but otherwise bridges, some beautiful . . .
some footbridges . . .
and others very serviceable vehicle and waterway structure . . .
with some people in view
as well as some current commercial buildings
and bridges some complete . . .
Certainly there are vestiges of industrial marine usage
not used in decades.
The creation of a kayak park and boat house is one of many transformations that make recreation the current Erie Canal’s industry.
I have a personal connection with the Pittsford canal front: as a boy, I harvested pickles for a neighbor, and one Saturday night I got to ride the farm truck to the piccalilli plant, right near the Schoen complex. If only time travel were possible and I could take that truck ride to the pickle factory again . . .
All photos by Will Van Dorp.
I’m back along the sixth boro but sorting through all my photos puts my head back up along the canal corridor, and I decided to divide the waterway into zones, subjective ones suggested by memory and photos. Also, whim tells me to do them in the order that comes easiest. So I’ll start with the longest level . . . about 50 miles between Greece and Spencerport all the way to Gasport. . . WITHOUT a single lock!
Allow a snarky comment first on the bridges . . . more than a dozen of them in this stretch. Some signage calls them draw bridges and others . . . lift bridges. For the record, I’d call some lift bridges. . .
and these . . . a fixed bridges.
The tow path is a heavily trafficked bike path. Click here for some disused lingo once apparently spoken in these parts.
There are lots of birds, but this is unique.
If you think this a chicken farm, look again more closely.
The road along the north side of the canal here is lower than the level of water, as are the cabbage field and apple orchard.
Between Albion and Medina there’s the quite unique and quite old Culvert Road.
Early fall . . . and the trees are heavy,
the grain combined and stored in bins.
In Medina, one of my favorite places in this portion of the canal, this dam allows the canal to be navigable
some 70 feet above Oak Orchard Creek.
Historical signs point out a non-scandal involving a former politician and
connection between this mostly farming area and . . . say .. . Brooklyn Bridge.
OK . . . Gasport. Next stop Lockport.
All photos taken in October by Will Van Dorp. If you have photos to share from when this portion of the canal saw commercial traffic, please get in touch. As it was last month, vessels drawing eight feet or more sometimes struggle with the bottom.
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.