You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Urger’ category.

An omen of the future . . . in 2013, Urger was laid up, sans her problematic prop shaft.  Here she’s nez-a-nez with Day Peckinpaugh.

Gowanus Bay was looking good.

NYS Marine Highway was well represented,

as always.  And following two of the four NYS Marine Highway boats there was Cornell, Frances and Margot‘s senior by the better part of a decade.

If you’ve never attended, trust me when I say the fireworks show is extraordinary!  Here from the bulkhead a dozen or so thousand spectators

and a few on solo craft

are captivated by the show.

I can’t tell you much about Iron Chief,  except that it has nice brass, a working steam engine, and was for sale in 2012.   In that link, you hear it run.  Of course, in the distance that’s ex-Atlantic Hunter, now Little Giant.

For me personally, 2013 was my first time to see the Blount Small Ship Adventures vessels head into a lock.

 

Besides tugboats, you never know what or who you might see.

it’s bowsprite of the blog and the etsy shop on an underwater mission.

Here’s the line up.

All photos, WVD.

Back in 2010, I did four posts about the weekend, which you can see here.  What I did for today’s post was look through the archives and just pick the photos that for a variety of reasons jumped out at me.  A perk is each of the four posts has some video I made.  One of these photos is from 2006.

Again, I’m not listing all the names, but you may know many of these.  In other cases, you can just read the name.  If you plug that name into the search window, you can see what other posts featured that particular vessel.

Below, here the pack that locked through the federal lock together make their way en masse toward the wall in Waterford.

You’ll see a lot of repetition here.

The photo above and most below were taken earlier than the top photo;  here, Chancellor and Decker head southbound for the lock to meet others of the procession beginning in Albany.

 

 

2020 is Decker‘s 90th year.

 

 

 

Nope, it’s not Cheyenne. Alas, Crow became razor blades half a decade back.

Technically, not a tugboat, but Hestia is special.  We may not have a functioning steam powered tug in the US, but we do have steam launches like Hestia, with very logical names.

 

 

You correctly conclude that I was quite smitten by Decker at the roundup back 10 years ago.

 

All photos, WVD.

And Shenandoah was not from 2010. It was 2009.

 

Like lots of things, the Great North River Tugboat Race is, as ws said in a comment yesterday, “alas  . . .  cancelled this year.”  So here’s some consolation, ws. . .  If you need a dose of racing, you can click here and get all the way back to tugster post 2006, or for a sampling from 2006 until 2011, follow along.  In 2006, I followed from W. O. Decker and had this view.  I’ll let you try to identify these;  if the group-source gets stuck, I’ll help out.

In 2007 . . .   of these, only Lucy Reinauer is still around here.

HMS Liberty is still around.

In 2008 . . .  throttling up releases some smoke . . .

 

In 2009, two of these are still running around the sixth boro staying busy.  The third was involved in a scandalous grouding and has been scrapped.

Meagan Ann has unique safety headgear, inspired by an ancient design.

In 2010 . . .  this was a motley armada, ranging from Atlantic Salvor to The Bronx.

Catherine C. Miller and Mary H were hurrying to the starting line here.

That year saw lots of pushing match-ups.

Vulcan III could be matched up with Viking later.

In 2011, THIS could be called the heat . . .  actually, it was a misting from one of the fire boats.

Pushing around happened all over the field for spectators on deck and photographers up high.

As always, getting a line on a bollard . . . just another event in the sixth boro games.

USMMA’s Growler is closing on the bollard as a crewman demonstrates a rodeo-influenced style.

More to come . . . all photos, WVD.  And if the last four photos above suggest a muddy Hudson, remember that 2011 had just seen Hurricane Irene flood the valley creeks feeding into the Hudson.

 

 

Recently I got a request for something on single screw tugs.  Ask . .  and receive, from the archives.

May 1, 2011  . .  the 1901 Urger was on the dry dock wall in Lyons looking all spiffy.  A month later, she’d be miles away and alive.

On March 19, 2010, the 1907 Pegasus had all the work done she was scheduled for, and the floating dry dock is sinking here.  In 10 minutes, Pegasus would be afloat and a yard tug … draw her out.

On a cold day last winter, a shot of the 1912 Grouper, in dry dock, waiting for a savior.   If you’re savvy and have deep reservoirs of skill and money, you can likely have her cheap.

In that same dry dock, the 1926 boxy superstructure DeWitt Clinton.

To digress, here’s how her much-lower clearance looked when first launched in Boothbay.

Back on July 30, 2017, I caught the 1929 Nebraska getting some life-extension work.   Unlike the previous single screw boats, Nebraska has a Kort nozzle surrounding its prop, which clearly is away getting some work done on it also.

On February 10, 2010, the 1931 Patty Nolan was on the hard.  She was put back in, but currently she’s back on the hard, with plans to float her again this summer.

A CanalCorp boat, I believe this is Dana, was in dry dock in Lyons this past winter.  If so, she’s from 1935.

As you’ve noticed, single screw tugs have sweet elliptical sterns.  All painted up and ready to splash, they are things of beauty.  On December 16, 2006, I caught the 1941 Daniel DiNapoli, ex-Spuyten Duyvil, about to re-enter her element.

Also in dry dock but not ready to float, on March 10, 2010, the 1958 McAllister Brothers, ex-Dalzelleagle is getting some TLC.

Is it coincidence that so many of these single screw boats are   . . . aged?  Nope.  Twin- and triple-screw boats can do many more things.  Is it only because the regulations have changed?  Have any single-screw tugs been built in recent years?  Are single-screw boat handling skills disappearing in this age of twin- and triple-screw boats?  No doubt.

All photos by WVD, who enjoyed this gallivant through the archives.

And speaking of archives, Mr Zuckerberg reminded me this morning that nine years ago exactly, the sixth boro was seeing the complicated lading of the tugs and barges being taken by heavylift ship to West Africa.  There were so many challenges that I called the posts “groundhog day” like the movie about a guy having to use many many “re-do’s” before he could get it right.

 

Get used to traveling through places you’ve never heard of, like Crescent, Scotia, Glenville, and Cranesville;  this is one of the many charms of the Canal.  Clinton’s Ditch created cities, not true for the Barge Canal, which took advantage of lakes and rivers.

Be sure to watch for these sunken barges in the water just after clearing the upper approach wall leaving lock E-9.

The water level is drawn down in winter . . . by use of the moveable dams.  The photo below, taken from the north side of the Canal, shows those same sunken barges.  They date from WW1!  Here‘s the background.

Here’s the main rail bridge west of E-9.  Again, I point this out because of all the train traffic on the north side of the Canal until lock E-19.

As we travel west, you’ll notice the excellent condition of the locks and buildings maintained by Canal Corporation;  however, hurricane Irene in 2011 caused serious flooding and damage to the system.  For photos, see tug44’s coverage.  At one time and possibly still today, lock masters compete for the prizes awarded to the best-kept lock, as scored on a number of mechanical, electrical, and aesthetic areas by the canal director and his team during their annual inspection tour of the system to determine where need is greatest for winter maintenance.

In summer, the lower Mohawk can be quite foggy summer mornings.

These photos were taken after we started moving, having stopped when channel markers couldn’t be seen:  without radar, lowered to fit under the low bridges, we can’t see the channel markers in the thick fog.

The Mohawk Valley, like the Hudson, has long provided building materials. South of lock E-10, Cranesville Block operates one of their quarries.

They’ve also taken over the Art Deco building designed by McKim, Mead, and White and built in the early 1920s for Adirondack Power and Light.  Adirondack was previously known as Mohawk Edison Company, before that Schenectady Illuminating Company, and before that Westinghouse Illuminating Company.  That alone should suggest the vitality of Mohawk Valley industrial history.

Amsterdam was once a city dominated by carpet and leather goods manufacture.  Mohawk Carpets, later called Mohasco, operated here from 1920 until 1987, when Mohawk moved away. Gloves manufactured here and farther north in Gloversville, are now mostly made in Asia.  In 1930 Amsterdam had a population of nearly 35,000;  today it has 17,000 and trending downward.  Other cities along the Canal have the same demographic pattern.

The road bridge just beyond these vacant buildings carries Route 30, which heads into the Adirondack State Park. In less than 15miles, you’re inside the park at Mayfield.  The waters of the Mohawk flow from tributaries both in the Adirondacks and from the south.

Just north of lock E-11 and moveable dam, visible to the left,  is this house, Guy Park Manor, an artifact from 1764, a time all inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley, European and Haudenosaunee alike,  lined up as either loyal to King George III or in rebellion against him.  The house was built by Sir William Johnson, hero from the French and Indian War and British Superintendent of Indian Affairs  for the northern colonies.  After the war of independence, this house and property of all loyalists was confiscated.  Loyalist, both settler and native, fled mostly to Canada except to return during the revolution as insurgents.  Want a Johnson biography?

Here’s the house in 1907, just north of lock E-11 under construction. As mentioned earlier, Hurricane Irene devastated the valley in 2011, seriously damaging the moveable dam, the lock, and the house.  The Valley is flood-prone, and the Canal was designed to prevent floods as well as to enable navigation.

About 2 miles west of lock E-11 and invisible from a boat is Old Fort Johnson, William Johnson’s base of operations from 1749 until 1763.

Then he moved farther north to found Johnstown, 10 miles to the northwest and where he lived until his death in 1774. The town still reveres him with this mural, below, featuring other town notables as well.

William Johnson is connected to First Peoples history of the area.  Molly Brant was his wife, and her brother, Joseph Brant, aka Thayendanegea, was a key Mohawk leader, who both became refugees in Brantford, ON after the American Revolution.

Johnson also convinced Pontiac to travel to Fort Ontario in Oswego to sign a treaty to end his rebellion in 1766.

 

A few miles west of lock E-11 and on the south side of the river one can locate remnants of the previous canal, Yankee Hill lock and Putnam’s lock grocery.  These are not visible from the boat.

 

Note these two photos of lock E-12, Tribes Hill, in summer with the gates pooling the water for navigation and in

in winter, gates open and the water level is much reduced to reduce ice damage.  The moveable dams at E-12 and E-9 are the only two that have automobile bridges installed.

Schoharie Creek, the Mohawk’s largest tributary, flows into the river just west of lock E-12.  If you look carefully, you can see remnants of another aqueduct. Some of the arches of the aqueduct were demolished when the Barge Canal  was built.

Not far beyond the ridge is the New York Thruway, where a bridge over Schoharie Creek collapsed in 1987.

The Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site Visitor Center in the hamlet of Fort Hunter has a great little museum.

Up to this point in our tour, the settlers were first Dutch and then British.  Beyond this point, ethnic another strand gets woven in:  impoverished religious refugees from the Rhine Valley, the Palatines.  Fort Hunter is named for Robert Hunter,  the colonial administrator here at the time of the Palatine settlement.  In a sense, they were pawns, expected to act as a buffer between the English colonists and the French and their allied natives to the north and west. Given the opportunity afforded by fertile land, the new group flourished, and grew independent of colonial control.  In the link in the previous sentence, Johan Conrad Weiser’s 1715-1721 dispute with governor Hunter illustrates this.

 

A few miles beyond Fort Hunter and on the far side of the NYS Thruway is this hillside in Auriesville NY.  You can see it clearly from the boat, and might wonder if you’ve slipped into a parallel universe.   To the right is the National Shrine to the North American Martyrs, and to the left is a complex of Buddhist temples.    Below the shrine is also a marker to Kateri Tekakwitha, a significant resident born a few miles to the west in what was known as Ossernenon.

From the river you can see bucolic farms.

and sometimes people fishing.  In recent years, Amish have been reviving agriculture in the region.

Not much is visible from the river of the village of Fonda, where a county fair has taken place since 1841.  And yes, ancestors of Henry Fonda settled the place.  Drums Along the Mohawk portrays life around the time of the American Revolution.  In the past 100 years, the population of Fonda has dropped from 2200 to 760.

On the north side of the river you may spot this sign marking Kanatsiohareke, a recent Mohawk re-settlement, or as they write on their site, “a Carlisle Indian Boarding School in Reverse”, teaching Mohawk language and culture.

And ahead in the distance is the moveable dam and lock E-13.  Note the high ridges on either side of the waterway.

Along the south side of the lock here is the Mohawk Valley welcome center, a rest stop along the westbound lanes of the Thruway that opened in 2017.

Waterford is now more than 50 winding Mohawk river miles behind us.

Photos, text, and any unintended errors  . . . Will Van Dorp.

After we leave E-6, Crescent Lake lies ahead of us.  Actually it’s an impoundment of the Mohawk behind the power dam and the flight.  Off to port are hazard buoys, demarcating the Mohawk flow that would take you over Crescent Dam and Cohoes Falls, mentioned in the previous post.  To avoid confusion, note that the Canal and the River are the same, or to put it differently, the River has been canalized.

Above Crescent NY, just before the Route 9 bridge, stately homes suggest an affluent past, woodworkers who assembled these homes also worked as canal boat builders perhaps.  An aqueduct, built 1842, once carried the Erie Canal over the Mohawk here.

Using the white house on the ridge above as key, find it in the photo below.  Canal boats would use the aqueduct to cross the Mohawk River here.   Coming toward us in the photo would be heading east. Click here for more info; a total of 18 aqueducts were built along the waterway in the 19th century.  I’m not going to re-invent the list of heritage sites along the Canal because it’s already been done here.

You’ll pass under the Twin Bridges of the Adirondack Northway, one of two bridges in New York officially named for the war hero Kościuszko. The bridge carries I-87, which goes up to the Canadian border and directly to Montreal, or down to NYC.  Invisible from the river unless you’re looking at a google satellite map is the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve, which contains the path of the 19th century iteration of the Erie Canal, including a disused lock and a Whipple Truss Bridge.  We are looking back at the bridge here, already west of it.

About ten miles after leaving the flight, you’ll see the Vischer’s Ferry Dam. Near there, Eldert Vischer opened a ferry across the river in 1790;  ferry connection continued there until 1902. On the ridge beyond the dam and lock E-7, you can see tops of buildings on the Knolls Atomic Power Lab and GE Global Research Lab Scan this list as an indication of the importance of this area in technological research.

From a filled lock E-7, you can clearly see the 2000′ twice-bent, fixed dam and the hydro-power station.  Not all dams in the system are “fixed,” which we’ll see later in this post.

The infamous Llenroc mansion is located across from  Knolls.

For a detailed discussion with maps of the geological history of the Mohawk, click here.  During the ice age, when the St. Lawrence was blocked by ice, the Great Lakes drained through this waterway, which some geologists refer to as the Iromohawk.  More on this later.

Here are ruins of an aqueduct.  These arches of the Rexford aqueduct, built in 1842 for the enlarged Erie,  can be seen just beyond the Schenectady Yacht Club, full of Canal remnants itself.   Here‘s a view of the aqueduct, showing barges and people walking in the towpath.  A few arches can be seen on either side of the River, which–as I’ve said before– at this point is synonymous with Canal.

A major difference between the 19th century versions of the Erie Canal and the current one is that rivers, although canalized, and lakes are now used in part of the transit.  Aqueducts were used back then so that barge traffic could be kept out of the river and therefore under control of the towing animal, no longer a necessity once self-propelled vessels appeared. Another view of this aqueduct–and the electric trolley bridge in Alplaus, the longest trolley bridge in the world–can be seen here.  Although the bridge piers are still in the river, the trolley bridge that connected Schenectady, Ballston Spa, and Saratoga has been removed.   Much more info and many photos of the area can be found here.

The bridge just west of red buoy 86 carries Amtrak trains, whether headed north to Canada or west or returning.  As we continue westward, trains will follow the the north side of the Canal for the next 60 or so miles.

Just past the rail bridge, River House waterfront condos have recently been built on the south side of the river.  A curious white cube building and and Rivers casino follow, all built on

what was once the American Locomotive (ALCO) Works, which produced locomotives from 1901 until 1969.  In the postcard below looking toward Waterford, notice the current Erie Canal aka the Mohawk River to the far left and the 19th century canal–now Erie Boulevard–toward the center of the card.  Here‘s a variation.

If you look in the right place just beyond the casino, you might spot the top of the 16-sided Nott Memorial in the center of Union College, one of the oldest non-denominational colleges in the United States, chartered in 1795.

As you pass Schenectady, you look into the stockade district, continuously occupied since 1661, when a dozen Dutch settlers from Fort Orange (Albany) purchased land along the river.

At one point, the settlement was literally surrounded by a stockade, although on a winter’s night in 1690, the open gates were left unguarded, and French and their allied Indians entered the area, burning and killing in what is known as the Schenectady massacre, a skirmish of King William’s War.  The statue, in the Stockade area today,  is referred to as Lawrence the Indian, but actually he does not depict a specific person.  Rather it was one of several, cast in the Bronx.

Farther west, we’ll talk about the residents of the valley before the French, Dutch, English, and so on.  If you’re impatient and want to learn more now, click here.  Most people refer to these inhabitants as Mohawks, like the river, or Iroquois; however, the more accurate term is Haudenosaunee, i.e., “people of the long house,” an allusion the founding of the unity as created by the Great Peacemaker and Jigohsasee.  First peoples had their own names we no longer use for many places.  “Mohawk,” e.g., is not what the first peoples called this river.

Once home to GE and ALCO, Schenectady was referred to as “the city that lights and hauls the world.”  GE still has a large workforce in Schenectady, but the numbers have declined significantly since 1974.

Round the bend we arrive at lock E-8.  A large mobile crane is sometimes positioned there to load/offload large GE components mostly transported by water.  Notice also the dam to the right of the lock.  It’s the first of eight “moveable” dams designed by David A.Watt, moveable, not fixed,  in that the gates can be moved up or down to adjust water flow.

Several miles after lock E-8, you pass the Mabee Farm Historic Site.  The Mabee house is considered the oldest unaltered structure standing in the Mohawk Valley, dating in 1705.  More about the house and the 1760s Dutch barn can be found here.  In 2009, a replica of Adriaen Block’s Onrust was launched from the site, after several years of work by skilled volunteers.  Replica bateaux, at the dock, are similar to vessels that once carried cargo across the territory.  For more info on these bateaux and this project, click here.  Later, larger Durham boats filled the same function.

Next up is Rotterdam’s lock E-9.  Notice that unlike the moveable dam at lock E-8, this one incorporates a road.

Once that tug and barge clear, we’ll head into E-9, in the next post.

All non-archival photos by Will Van Dorp, and any errors of content, mine too.

 

Stewart calls this “museum tugs of the Great Lakes.”

“We start in Lake Superior, specifically Two Harbors, with  Edna G., built in 1896 and assisted freighters for 80 years.  [You can find previous appearances of this tug on this blog here. ]

Next we go to Sturgeon Bay with  John Purves. She was built in 1919 [at Beth Steel in Elizabeth NJ, I might add] and during World War 2 found herself armed with machine guns on her deck and out in Alaska protecting the shipping channels….

A short ways away in Kewaunee is our next tug,  Ludington. She was also a war veteran. Originally built as LT-4 in 1943, she helped moved barges to Normandy on D-Day.

All the way down in Lake Erie, at the bow of the museum freighter Col. James M. Schoonmaker, is our next tug,  Ohio. She was built in 1903 as a fireboat, and stayed this way until she was bought in 1948 by the Great Lakes Towing Company, and converted into a tug. She served this job until 2015, and in 2018 was converted and restored with the purpose of being a museum ship.

Finally, we end in Lake Ontario in Oswego New York, where yet another war veteran has retired. This tug is USAT LT-5, which is a sister ship of Ludington. [In fact, Ludington is hull# 297, and Nash is hull# 298, from Jakobson in Oyster Bay NY.]  She was launched in 1943, had 50 caliber machine guns on her deck, and also helped haul barges to Normandy on D-Day.  [Her dimensions are 114′ x 25′ x 14′.  And on June 9, 1944, her Norwegian crew shot down a German fighter aircraft.]

Thank you for reading this post.  All pictures from museumships.us, which is remembering history one ship at a time.”

Thank much, Stewart.

And I could leave well done alone, but this is an opportunity to mention one more . . . Urger.  Here she is less than 10 miles from Lake Ontario, pulled over above lock O-3 by a state employee on a mission. He wanted to look the 1901 tug over and lamented his son wasn’t there to get the tour with him.  Hats off, officer.   The info on museumships here is, unfortunately, three years out of date.

June 2014

And why not another . . . Urger here in 2018 alongside The Chancellor.

Last two photos,WVD.

 

Let’s go back to September 2009.  CMA CGM Marlin, launched 2007,  was the standard size back then . . .  The 5092-teu vessel has since been scrapped, after only nine years of service!!

Over a dozen sailing barges came to NYC to sail in New York waters in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Half Moon arriving here all those years ago.  Here are more posts from back then. Groenevecht, below, is a 2000-built replica of a lemsteraak.

Also in town to celebrate were Onrust and HNLMS Tromp. Here’s more on Tromp.

Old and new came.  On one end of the spectrum was Day Peck, 

her great hold still waiting to be transformed into museum.

Urger still operated, here sidling up to Lehigh Valley 79.

A different Rosemary McAllister worked here.

Irish Sea (1969) was still at work.

Yessir, stuff changes.  All photos in September 2009 by Will Van Dorp.

 

If you’re new to the blog, I’ve done lots of blog posts on a NYS Canals tug called Urger.

For the past 5+ years, I’ve freelanced for a great publication called ProfessionalMariner, and this month have my first cover story.  I didn’t know my photo was on the cover until it came out!!  You can read my Urger article here.

Another piece of Urger news I have not reported elsewhere is below.  At the 2018 Waterford Tugboat Roundup, the 1901 built tug was voted “People’s Choice Favorite Tugboat,” winner of a dark horse write in campaign!  Below is the trophy.  Too bad the trophy has no boat to display it in for the public to see.

Now for big news on the political though primarily ceremonial end of things, Assembly member John McDonald III, District 108, has sponsored a bill to designate Urger as “official tugboat of the State of New York.  Read it here.

You can leave a note of thanks and support for Assembly member McDonald here.  If you vote in NYS and want to leave a note for your own rep to encourage him or her to join with McDonald in supporting this bill, you can start the connection here.

You can also write the Preservation League of New York and encourage them to continue their efforts to save this boat as a moving, floating ambassador from our state’s history.  Click here for more on their efforts.

And here’s yet another idea . . .   a 1/12 expired Urger fundraiser calendar. 

And finally, consider attending the Canal Society of New York Winter Symposium in Rochester NY on March 2.  I’ll be there.   Urger will surely come up.

And SCOW (State Council on Waterways) . . .  too bad you’ve dissolved!  There’s a reference of their Urger role at the end of this post. 

Here’s a calendar fundraiser you might consider.

It’s a fundraiser to benefit efforts to save Urger as a boat afloat:  “Update on our Urger campaign – we are talking to the New York Power Authority and waiting on a response from them on a few things. Everything is in a holding pattern right now for the winter, while the Urger is in Waterford. NYPA is commissioning an update to the 2014 Urger condition report. We asked for but have not seen (nor do I anticipate seeing) the scope of services for that report. I know they have taken metal samples, which is to be expected.

We’re working with Assemblyman John McDonald, who will introduce legislation to make the Urger the NYS Tug once session begins. We’re waiting for the final 2019 committee lists to come out before approaching someone in the Senate.

We’ve already spent several thousand dollars on the Urger campaign. Any funds raised (THANK YOU!) would go towards making us whole for those costs, as well as future expenses. It’s somewhat of a waiting game right now, but we may want to push NYPA to allow for a second opinion on the condition report, which would be pretty expensive and require its own fundraising effort. ”

Click here to see the interior pages and make your order.

Thanks to Jeff and the Preservation League.

 

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