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The Oswego River is the second largest river flowing into Lake Ontario, but it feels in places like a stream.  I don’t have to tell you what the largest river into Ontario is, I hope.

If you study the east bank, lots of traces of the original 1828 Oswego Canal, a verdant mudbank and even stonework like this for a former lock.

A detail to look for on the west side of the river just north of Minetto is the beer cave, where Brosemer Brewery used to cool their products in the age before refrigeration.

I’ve never been inside, but here’s a photo of the interior.

As evidence of the commercial traffic still plying the system, here’s a New Jersey-based tugboat on its way to Lake Erie.

In Oswego there’s a flight of three locks in just over a mile that will lower us 46′.  The canal runs along the left side of this photo; notice the passenger vessel about to exit the top end of the lock O-7, climbing toward Minetto.  Along the right side of the photo, i.e., the west side of the river, water has to tumble that same distance, a fact that allows hydropower generation and a thriving sport fishing industry, both in the river, out on Lake Ontario, and elsewhere in the locality.

In summer, Oswego enjoys its connection to the big lake.  What’s a recreation area today was an industrial only area back over 150 years ago.

Industry still exists.  Tourism to the right, and cement to the left.

Count the three tugboats in this photo from 2014.  From near to far, Margot is pushing some oversize electrical equipment from Schenectady to Massena; the blue Cheyenne is heading to Lake Erie via the Welland Canal to retrieve new barges from a shipyard, and Wilf Seymour, the tugboat on in the distance pushing the large barge* that has delivered aluminum ingots via the Saint Lawrence River for use at the  Novelis plant just north of Oswego.  Interesting as evidence of the commercial value of the Canal, Margot is based in Troy NY, Cheyenne then in Hillside NJ**, and Wilf Seymour in Burlington ON.

***That barge transports the equivalent of 920 20-ton trucks, and Cheyenne is now based in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

A different day brings different commercial boats here;  I’m not sure where the speedboat is based, but the two boats on the wall are from New Jersey and Rhode Island, and

Seaway Maid, from Clayton, on the St. Lawrence.

From right to left here, the white building is the H. Lee White Maritime Museum and the tug in the front of it it LT-5, a veteran of the Normandy invasion. Here‘s more on that tug, aka Nash.   Moving to the left, it’s 85′ schooner Ontario, and Niña and Pinta of the Columbus Foundation.  I wrote here about touring the Niña and Pinta on the Hudson back in 2012.  Ask me about schooner Ontario and I’ll tell you a sad tale.

This Canadian sailboat enters the system here, bound for the Caribbean.

Proximity to Canada made Oswego, the US first port on the Great Lakes, an important station in the Underground Railroad.

If you’re interested in some hard-to-explain details of Oswego harbor, you’ll love browsing through all the historical photos here.  Oswego became an official US port of entry in 1799, and

an active shipbuilding center. Vandalia, 91′ x 20′ and built here in 1841, was the first propeller steamship on the Great Lakes.

The brig Oneida was built here as well, less than a decade before the War of 1812.

Working backward here, this place was wrangled over for a long time, and a plaque in front of the star-shaped fort on a bluff east of the mouth of the river is …

my all-time favorite historical marker:  “Built, captured & destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed . . .”  Needing more historical recognition is Dr. Mary E. Walker, the only woman as yet to receive a Medal of Honor, and do read that link.

Notable in the recent era, Fort Ontario served as a refugee settlement shelter called “safe haven” in 1944-45.  In summer 2019 refugees returned to Oswego to commemorate the 75th anniversary of their sojourn there.

So here were are;  we’ve virtually transited one possible course on the Erie Canal, traveled about 225 miles.  We were raised 405′ and then lowered back down about 175′,  doing some rounding of numbers. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride, learned something about this waterway, and gotten some good photos.  As to food and drink on board, sorry . . . that’s not my department.

Let’s head due west about 20 miles,  into Lake Ontario.  Here I’m looking south toward Sodus Point, where I learned to swim in the early 1960s.  It’s so calm I could  “stand-up canoe-paddle” all the way to the lighthouse.  Six months later this SE corner of Ontario had 20′ to 30′ waves, according to NOAA.    This area of the lake, called the Rochester Basin, is 802′ deep at its greatest depth.  NOAA held meetings in summer 2019 for public comment on a proposed designation of the area as a National Marine Sanctuary.

If we continue on this course about 140 miles, we’ll be at Port Weller, ON, the entrance to another Canal, the Welland.  But unless you sign me on for that  trip, I’ll be leaving you here.

Until tomorrow with something different.  Meanwhile, the virtual boat crew needs to refuel with virtual fuel, do virtual maintenance on virtual hardware, etc . . . and we’ll begin another transit through different portions of the canal on May first. Let’s NOT make that may day, which has a whole set of negative connotations I’d rather avoid. Seats are still available for good prices, all, of course, virtual.

Meanwhile, if you plan to do a real transit of the canal –read this note about the 2020 season opening!!–and need crew with local knowledge, get in touch.  I can tie knots, throw lines, and spin yarns.  And if you want to make real evaluative comments of our virtual trip–e.g., errors, omissions, additions…–I’d love to read them.  Comment here or to my email.

 

This post covers the St. Clair River (in the wee hours) and down to Detroit.  If it seems that it’s just a chronological series of photos of the voyage, well . . . yes, that’s what it is, and what’s wrong with that.

Can you identify the vessel that we passed between 0415 and 0430?  I’ll give the answer at the end of the post.

We followed Kaye E. Barker into the sixth Great Lakes. . .

Partway across, we both passed Atlantic Huron.

 

Just south of Belle Isle, we saw Bristol Bay with her barge and

still farther, Cheyenne light.

Federal Seto was moored near the Boblo-marked building, and

The last two boats for this post are Iver Bright and

Patricia Hoey.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

The mystery vessel was Paul R. Tregurtha.

 

xx

 

Gott passed just south of Detroit, so let’s pick up the journey there.

On their way to Tall Ships Erie, Niagara above and Denis Sullivan below down bound under bare poles.

At a steel plant, Herbert C. Jackson offloads coal.

CSL Baie Comeau heads down bound.

Bushey tug transplanted to fresh waters, it’s Cheyenne reinventing herself.

Passing us near midtown, it’s the many-times reinvented  Lee A. Tregurtha,

sailing into a storm.

We’d not even gotten into Lake St Clair when the storm caught up with us . . . and this dinner boat heading south.

All photos by Will Van dorp.

Here for some context is a post with drawings bowsprite did exactly a decade ago … .

I took the photo below of the same setting.

Whole fleets that existed a decade ago are gone.  For example, K-Sea has been subsumed.  Some boats like Maryland are still in the boro,

others are still on the East Coast but in other fleets like this Falcon.

But still others like Coral Sea and

and Baltic Sea have gone to another continent.

Others might be scrapped . . . like Volunteer and

Bismarck Sea.

Others like Adriatic Sea have crossed over to the other side of North America….

Another fleet subsumed under Kirby–as is K-Sea–is Allied.  Here in July 2009, Sea Raven–now scrapped–and another Falcon have rafted up.   Here’s the link to read in this post:  how Sea Raven was built!!

Hornbeck had a fleet in the sixth boro, with their base in Brooklyn at the current Vane base.   I don’t know what Atlantic Service is currently doing, if anything.

Spartan Service has been sold to a Mexican company,

Sandmaster was still sand mining with this rig.  She was since sold to the Caribbean, and according to AIS, now flies the flag of Niger, which to me says she may be scrapped.

Cheyenne was still red back then, and has since changed colors twice, and exchanged salt water for fresh.  She’s also won the International Tugboat Race on the Detroit River for the past two years.

And this Kristin Poling, 1934 built,  still plied her trade, always a treat to see.

All photos from 10 years ago by Will Van Dorp, who is amazed by the amount of equipment change in the sixth boro in the past decade.

 

Here are the previous installments.  Today’s photos all were taken in August–October2008.

Let’s start with part of the line-up for the 2008 tugboat race. If I’m not mistaken, the only boat left standing, as is, in this photo is St. Andrews, fourth from the left.

Escort, a Jakobson boat, is currently laid up.

Sea Raven, an intriguing “composite” vessel, whose hull was composed of two hulls of 1941 hulls, has been scrapped.

She was called Lone Ranger when she was in the sixth boro in 2008, owned by the CEO of Progressive Insurance.  The former oil-platform towing vessel is still on the seas, now as Sea Ranger. 

Ah!  Cheyenne . . . she been on this blog countless times. 

Frances, as she’s called now,  . . . back then I feared she was not long for this world…

Baltic Sea . . .  I’d love to see her now as she works the Gulf of Guinea.

I’ll repeat this photo . . . as a parting tribute shot, and since St Andrews is the only survivor, let me

show her tangling it up with Edith Thornton, with Dorothy Elizabeth watching.

x

x

 

Check out these shots of Cheyenne –a former staple in the sixth boro–recently in her new ecosystem.

Cheyenne recently assisted this  unit getting out of a waterway in Detroit.

 

Powering the barge to a port on another Lake is Evans McKeil, built in Balboa, Panama, in 1936!  In comparison, Cheyenne (1965, Brooklyn) is a youngster.

The lights from steelmaking in Detroit are truly unique.

 

Niagara Spirit is a large barge . . . 340′ x 78′ with a carrying capacity of almost 8000 metric tons.  In this case, the cargo is just over 6000 tons of coke . . . .  That’s not Coke.

And when the job is done, Cheyenne returns to her berth along the Detroit river, resting up for the next job.

All photos by an anonymous mariner.

Call this Ambassador Bridge Detroit to Lake St. Clair, the sixth Great Lake.  For starters at sunrise, it’s Argentia Desgagnes.  

Offloading coal at USSteel, it’s Clyde S. Van Enkvort, formerly a DonJon tug.

Here’s a waterside view of Cheyenne.

Upclose to the Detroit Jazz Fest, it’s Lake Guardian and

Escanaba, WMEC-907.

Farther north, it’s Bristol Bay and

this tragic sight of SS Ste Clair, sister ship of SS Columbia.

And closing out this post, it’s a Seadoo above the lifeboat of

Salvage Monarch.  A hanging Seadoo like this is something I’ve never seen before.  It strikes me as a good idea.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

This is Toledo to Detroit . . .and we start with Bessie B 

making her way out toward the mouth of the Maumee River.

Laid up . . . it’s Manistee.

This post is geographically arranged . . . otherwise, I’d put this first.  Tug Wisconsin used to be America, launched 1897!!

This ferry is in the Detroit River, crossing between Bois Blanc Island and Amherstburg, both in Ontario.

Wagenborg has lots of vessels, this one for the location appropriately named Americaborg.

 

CSL Tadoussac heads upstream and

H. Lee White, who has a museum named for him in Oswego . . .  down bound.

Here’s some info about Mr. White.

And off the stern of John G. Munson . . .

the new digs for Cheyenne, a former denizen of the sixth boro.

 

And closing it out behind Zug Island . . . it’s Missassagi, unloader stowed and minutes away from the next upbound trip.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

She was still self-propelled and earning cargo credit in September 5, 2017, when I saw her near Mackinac Island . . .

 

Ditto two days later in windsor and a bit later

she was running down bound past Wyandotte,

allowing me a close-up of her oxidation.

But today, thanks to Fred Miller II for these photos, she’s down bound again, but behind a tow line of Evans McKeil, with

tail steering provided by the iconic Cheyenne.

Many thanks to Fred for the last two photos.  All others by Will Van Dorp.

How about some irony:  Evans McKeil, shown here n Montreal in October 2017 with barge Metis,

was built in Balboa, Panama in 1936!!  Algoway‘s keel was laid in 1972 in Collingwood, and she’s headed out for scrapping in Turkey.

Cheyenne has appeared on this blog many, many times, most recently after I caught her in the Oswego River in September 2017 as she headed for Detroit.

 

 

 

Previous posts of Cheyenne can be found here.  But I think she never looked better than she did northbound between Fulton and Minetto the other day.

The Oswego Canal/River might be the narrowest wilds she’ll be in for a bit.

The waterfowl wheeled around to catch glimpses.

I look forward to seeing on the inland seas of the Great Lakes.

x

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

 

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