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SS George Washington was launched from Newport News Shipbuilding in November 1924 to operate on the Old Dominion Line between NYC and Norfolk.  It was sold to Eastern Steamship Lines in 1927.   Mr. Gmelin marked this photo–where she carries the logo on Eastern Steamship Lines on her funnel–as 1940, making it a photo of the ship near the end of its life on that run. But there were other exciting lives to come.

geowashington

 

After the war, it ran very briefly for Alaska Transport Company (ATCo.) between Seattle and Alaska in 1948, until ATCo went bankrupt the same year.  A French company named CGT bought her in 1949, renamed her SS Gascogne (sometimes spelled Gascoigne), ran her in the Caribbean for a while and in 1952 sold her to Messageries-Maritimes, who operated her in Indochina until she was scrapped in Hong Kong in 1955.  Quite the journey for this US East coast steamer named for POTUS 1, and what stories have been lost with her forever;  I guess some clever novelist will have to make them up.

Her Newport News Shipbuilding/Old Dominion Line twin–Robert E. Lee–was torpedoed and sunk in 1942.

Some of you asked what became of the faux sidewheeler that had been beside Binghamton.  Here’s a foto I took in June.  In July it was still this way.

Behold the hideousness of its facade.

And the dirty secret that it had not only a faux but also a single sidewheel.    Well, call this . . . going, going . . .

Gone.  The “deckhouse” of Neo-Binghamton is no more, as evident from this foto taken on October 4.  It was removed some time since early August.

Note the row of clerestory windows above the coverings on the top deck of the real Binghamton.  They serve to backlight

the beautiful yellow-red stained glass on both sides of the saloon.

My prediction is that with this Newport News vessel . . . there will come no miracle nor will nature nibble away at her for years.

A large mechanical monster will devour her, leaving only memories and

the above ovoid on some old google maps and lots of shoreside constructs with (to newcomers) an implusible Binghamton in the name:  Binghamton Raquetball, Binghaton Deli, Binghamton Plaza, Binghamton Estates . . . .

Fotos by Will Van Dorp, and satellite images from googlemaps.

No phantasmagoria today, just the cold hard facts, or in this case . . . the wet, crumbling ones:  exploring Binghamton felt like visiting a hospice.   Hopes to see what remained in the engine room were dashed halfway down the companionway below the main deck.  Nasty cafe au lait post-Irene river water, at least five feet of it at this point, barred the way.  It didn’t seem a heathy or productive place to snorkel.

The southernmost wheelhouse–here with a view of a southbound Vane unit in front of Manhattan–is stripped and relegated to attic status.

In this section of the menu, I love the last sentence of the fifth paragraph:  “She took the population of the eastern United States eight times around the world,” and she did so without leaving that section of the river between Barclay Street pier (now no more) and Hoboken.  Fotos of Binghamton at work can be found in Railroad Ferries of the Hudson: and stories of a deckhand by Baxter and Adams, which I highly recommend.

The craziness of the internet where nothing dies is illustrated by this restaurant review of Binghamton.  Wonder what would happen if you called that number to make a reservation.

I tried to take this foto so as to give the illusion of being on a vessel about to depart for Manhattan.

The wheelhouse at the north end is equally stripped although

the joinery–alluding to wooden wheel spoke days– dazzles.  Imagine looking up at this in your workspace, sans paint chips of course.  Let your fancy add braided cords leading to steam whistles.

Atop the wheelhouses are these lanterns, and

a running light system.

From the wheelhouses, here is the view of passenger and vehicle ingress and egress.  I love the folding gates, and although I know they have a technical

name I’ve heard, I can’t recall it.  (Note:  thanks to Les, pantograph gates, they are.)

Shoreside south end of the the ferry shows greatest recent damage to the deck;  in fact, as tide flooded, the river poured in here.

Like all crumblings and ruins, here is a depressing metaphor of mortality and transience.  Oh to have a jolly drink here, a meal with trimmings and revelry, a time spent

in good company, a celebration that takes you to the heights.

On the floor of the main deck . . . lay this 3′ x 4′ foto of an unidentified happy couple from maybe not even that long ago who chose this vehicle to take them to “that other side . . ,”   a foto soon to be obliterated by . . . the river and time.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who needs to get to work now to hold back melancholy.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

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Tale of Two Marlins

Blue Marlin spent 600+ hours loading tugs and barges in NYC Sixth Boro. Click on image for presentation made to NY Ship Lore and Model Club, July 25, 2011.

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