Tag Archives: Maritime History

Champlain Maritime Museum Announces Changes


By on

0 Comments

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) is undergoing its first change in leadership in the 26 years since it was founded. Art Cohn and LCMM’s Board of Directors have just unveiled their transition plan for the next years of leadership for LCMM.

This fall, Art Cohn, co-founder and executive director, will take on the new role of Senior Advisor and Special Projects Director, while Erick Tichonuk and Adam Kane, both longtime members of the museum staff, will ascend to the position of Co-Executive Directors.

Tichonuk will have primary responsibility for the fleet, museum programs and operations, while Kane will be Archaeological Director of LCMM’s Maritime Research Institute. They will work in tandem on the overall leadership of LCMM.

In a letter sent to community leaders, museum members and supporters, Cohn explained “Several years ago I began to ponder the prospect of transition, and I came to believe that passing leadership of the museum to the next generation was perhaps the most important responsibility I would have. Over the years, I have focused very hard on identifying and recruiting the best and brightest to the museum with the hope and expectation that the next generation of leaders would be among them. I am pleased to report that they were.”

Sandy Jacobs, LCMM Board Chair from 2006 to 2009, and Darcey Hale, incoming Board Chair who took office on May 1, elaborated: “The museum is what it is today because of the vision that Art Cohn and Bob Beach had 26 years ago, Art’s skillful leadership, his devotion to every aspect of the institution and, most of all, his passion for everything that relates to Lake Champlain. As many of you have so aptly stated, ‘Art is the Maritime Museum.’ Adam Kane and Erick Tichonuk have worked closely with Art for many years, helping to shape the values and the culture of the museum, and they have been thoughtful and thorough in their proposal for carrying forward the Museum’s mission and vision. We are confident that under their leadership the museum will continue to grow and to flourish.” “Two more talented, dedicated and thoughtful people you could not find,” Cohn declared, “I am so pleased for them and for the museum family.”

The announcement comes as the Maritime Museum prepares to launch into a typically busy “open” season. Kane is deploying teams of LCMM nautical archaeologists to fieldwork and consultations in Onondaga Lake and Lake George as well as Lake Champlain, while Tichonuk directs the installation of the museum’s new exhibits, readies the Philadelphia II and Lois McClure for the new season, and works with waterfront communities around the lake in anticipation of the schooner’s “Farm and Forest” tour this summer. In the months ahead, LCMM’s Board and leadership staff will also be engaged in a strategic planning process that will chart LCMM’s future course. “This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to reach out and celebrate the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – past, present and future,” Hale exclaims. “We are sincerely grateful to all of the many people who over the years have demonstrated their support, interest, and belief that LCMM plays a vital role in the history and well being of our region and far beyond.” Cohn concurs: “We have just celebrated LCMM’s twenty-fifth anniversary year, and this positive transition plan provides assurance that the museum will build upon its accomplishments and be even more productive in the years to come.”

Photo: LCMM Co-founder and Executive Director Art Cohn (center) with Erick Tichonuk (left) and Adam Kane, who will become Co-Executive Directors of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in the fall.

New Season at Boscobel House and Gardens


By on

0 Comments

Whether you crave chocolate or relish history, Boscobel has a special event just for you. The early 19th-century house museum on 45 acres in Garrison (Putnam County) swings its gate open for the 2011 season this April 1st, and the entire month promises a variety of unique offerings.

New this year will be special Themed House Tours. In April, think quickly for the April Fool’s: What’s Wrong in This Room? house tours. Join in on the search for off-period items in Boscobel House. Would Elizabeth have one or two sugar cubes in her tea? Did Peter wear a wrist watch on his left or right arm? Careful – Boscobel is trying to fool you. Daily tours throughout the month of April will include a wrong-era object in each room. See the Boscobel website for special themed tours in July & November, too. There is no additional cost for themed tours. (Regular house admission rates apply.)

Eagerly anticipating chocolate from the Easter Bunny? No need to wait that long…come to Boscobel Saturday, April 2 for a luscious lecture and tasting: Wine & Chocolate Pairings with Oliver Kita. According to Chocolatier and Chef Oliver Kita, wine & chocolate are a natural combination. Both have complex flavors and notes, and both have similar components and nuances. Join us for this tasty lecture, and learn how to team up wine and chocolate together in a variety of delicious ways. A sampling of wines and chocolates will be offered. Unique chocolates will also be available for sale, as well as Oliver’s line of “Great Estate Chocolates” which include Boscobel. (Great gifts for Mother’s Day and Easter!) Wine & Chocolate Tasting Plus a Tour of Boscobel House: $35/person at 1pm. Wine & Chocolate Tasting Only: $25/person at 2:30pm. Space limited. Reservations Required. (21 years+) Tickets can be bought online at Boscobel.org. Look for a link on the April event page.

This year’s Seminar Series sponsored by the Friends of Boscobel is titled, “18th & 19th Century Industries in the Hudson Valley.” It all starts April 9 with Ms. Ina Griffin-Guilzon, Museum Teacher at Columbia County Historical Society who will present, “Whaling Industry Based in The Hudson.”

The series will continue on April 16 with Travis Bowman of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation who will give an illustrated talk on “Bobs’ Folly,” how Robert Fulton & Robert Livingston introduced the first steamboat service on the Hudson River.

Finally, on April 23 stop by for: Dr. Tom Carroll, Professor at RPI and associated with “Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway” who will give a modified version of “The Hudson as Silicon Valley of the 19th Century” with coverage of the West Point Foundry and Burden Mining near Linlithgo. All lectures are free and do not require reservations; space is limited. House tours are additional.

Are you a garden buff? Rest your spade, and come to Boscobel on Friday April 29 at 2pm for a Garden Tour & Book Signing by the authors of “Gardens of the Hudson Valley.” This stunning, new coffee table book focuses on the Valley’s historic landscape and how gardens have been integrated into it. Photographers Steve Gross and Susan Daly selected twenty-five gardens between Yonkers and Hudson that included famous estates, including Boscobel, as well as private gardens that combine sweeping views and lush plantings. Writers Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner describe each of the gardens in full detail with focus on the history of the site and the strategies for design and plant materials. Join us at Boscobel on Arbor Day where Ms. Lowry and Ms. Berner will lead visitors on a guided garden tour, discuss their book and sign copies purchased in the gift shop. Grounds admission applies.

Due to popular request, Costumed House Tours at Boscobel have been expanded are being offered all day long on the last Friday of every month. Step back in time when Boscobel’s docents dress in period costumes and guide visitors through Boscobel House on an interactive, interpretive tour. They will explain life and times of the 1800s and perhaps share “inside stories” of the Dyckman family. There is no additional cost for costumed tours; regular house admission rates apply.

Live in Orange County? Be sure to visit Boscobel on Sunday, April 17 when it’s Orange County Day. Simply show your proof of Orange residence and your grounds admission is free. It’s a terrific way to discover Boscobel and take in some breathtaking views. Check Boscobel’s website calendar for your free county day.

For a fabulous spring opening sale on many unique home & gift items in the Gift Shop at Boscobel, stop by the first two weeks in April. There’s even a 50% off table sure to please the bargain shopper in you.

For further details on all events and programs, including rain dates & pricing, visit Boscobel.org or call 845.265.3638 after April 1. Boscobel is located on scenic Route 9D in Garrison New York just one mile south of Cold Spring. From April through October, hours are 9:30am to 5pm., the last tour at 4:00pm. The house museum and distinctive Gift Shop at Boscobel are open every day except Tuesdays, May 15, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

War Of 1812 Symposium Planned for Ogdensburg


By on

0 Comments

During the War of 1812 the dogs of war barked and bit along the U.S. northern frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain as American forces tangled with their British and Canadian counterparts for two-and-a-half years. The War of 1812 in this region, and its wider implications, will be topics at the third annual War of 1812 Symposium April 29-30 in Ogdensburg, NY, sponsored by the Fort La Présentation Association.

The five presentations by authoritative Canadians and Americans are: Ogdensburg and Prescott during the War of 1812, Paul Fortier; American supply efforts on Lake Ontario: “Cooper’s Ark,” Richard Palmer; “Colonel Louis” and the Native American role in the War of 1812, Darren Bonaparte; The war on the St. Lawrence River, Victor Suthren; and Excavation of American Graves at the 1812 Burlington Cantonment, Kate Kenny. The post-dinner address by Patrick Wilder is the Battle of Sackets Harbor


“We established the symposium in advance of the war’s 2012 bicentennial to help develop a broader public understanding of the War of 1812, so important to the evolution of the United States and Canada,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “The annual symposium is a vibrant forum of scholars from both sides of the boarder presenting informative seminars to an enthusiastic audience of academics, history buffs and re-enactors.”

The cost of the symposium is $100 for the Saturday seminars and after-dinner speaker, including a light continental breakfast, a buffet lunch and a sit-down dinner. The Friday evening meet-and-greet with period entertainment by Celtic harpist Sue Croft and hors d’oeuvres is $10.

The symposium and dinner fee for Fort La Présentation Association members is $90, and they will pay $10 for the meet-and-greet.

Other pricing options are available: $80 for the Saturday seminars without dinner; and $35 for the dinner with speaker.

Seminar details and registration instructions on the Fort La Présentation Association webpage.

The Freight House Restaurant in Ogdensburg will host the symposium, as it has in previous years.

The Fort La Présentation Association is a not-for-profit corporation based in Ogdensburg, New York. Its mission is to sponsor or benefit the historically accurate reconstruction of Fort de la Présentation (1749) in close proximity to the original site on Lighthouse Point.

Seminar Presenters

Darren Bonaparte from the Mohawk community of Ahkwesáhsne on the St. Lawrence River is an historical journalist. He created the Wampum Chronicles website in 1999 to promote his research into the history and culture of the Rotinonhsión:ni—the People of the Longhouse. Mr. Bonaparte has been published by Indian Country Today, Native Americas, Aboriginal Voices and Winds of Change, and he has served as an historical consultant for the PBS miniseries The War That Made America; Champlain: The Lake Between; and The Forgotten War: The Struggle for North America.

Paul Fortier, of Kingston, ON, worked 10 years as a military curator and historian for Parks Canada and a following 10 years as a manager at the National Archives of Canada. While living in Prescott, ON, the home he restored was the Stockade Barracks, British military headquarters on the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812. Mr. Fortier is a founder of the re-enacted Regiment of Canadian Fencible Infantry. He owns Jessup Food & Heritage, providing period food services at Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry and Fort York.

Kate Kenney is the Program Historian at the University of Vermont Consulting Archeology Program. She supervises historic artifact analysis and also helps supervise field work, particularly at historic sites. She is the senior author of Archaeological Investigations at the Old Burial Ground, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Ms. Kenny has organized and conducted UVM CAP public outreach, including presentations to elementary and high school students. Personal research projects involve Vermont history from the earliest settlement through to the Civil War.

Richard F. Palmer of Syracuse is a senior editor of “Inland Seas,” the quarterly of the Great Lakes Historical Society, and has written some 40 articles for the publication, covering more than 250 years of Lake Ontario’s maritime history. His presentation on “Cooper’s Ark,” is the story of a short-lived floating fortress built in Oswego during the War of 1812, but lost in a storm while sailing to Sackets Harbor. He’ll also recount the attempt to raft lumber for the construction of ships from Oak Orchard to Sackets Harbor; the delivery was intercepted by the British.

Victor Suthren, from Merrickville, Ontario, is an author and historian. He served as Director General of the Canadian War Museum from 1986 to 1998, and is an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy and advisor to the Directorate of Naval History and Heritage, Department of National Defence (Canada). He has worked as an advisor to film and television productions and has voyaged extensively as a seaman in traditional “tall ships.” Mr. Suthren has published several works of historical non-fiction, as well as two series of historical sea fiction.

Patrick Wilder is an historian retired from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He is the author of The Battle of Sackett’s Harbour, 1813.

Photo: Canadian Fencibles Colours, courtesy Fort La Présentation Association.

Historic Canal Tug Urger Concludes 2010 Season


By on

0 Comments

More than 5,000 schoolchildren visited the historic tugboat Urger during the recently concluded 19th season as an educational resource for the New York State Canal System.

During the summer months, the Urger hosts thousands of visitors at numerous Canal festivals and events throughout the Canal Corridor. The Urger also provided one of the many highlights at the 2010 World Canals Conference held in Rochester in September.

Canal Corporation Director Carmella R. Mantello said, “The tug Urger educational program has once again been a great success. Thousands of schoolchildren from across New York State participate every year in hands on activities to learn about the significant and unparalleled role New York’s Canals have played in shaping our state and nation. The Canal Corporation is pleased to partner with communities and schools throughout the Canal corridor to allow the public to learn firsthand about this historic vessel and to learn about the past, present and future of the New York State Canal System.”

The tug Urger logged more than 3,000 miles traveling across the Canal System during 2010. During the spring and fall educational programs, the Urger visited more than 30 communities. Students in fourth-grade classes at local schools take field trips to the tug and participate in shoreside, “hands-on” educational sessions. There they learn about the history of the Canals and the role construction of the Erie Canal played in making New York the “Empire State.”

Throughout the summer months, the Urger represented the Canal Corporation at many Canal-related events and festivals throughout the system, as well as being a featured vessel at this year’s World Canals Conference.

During the winter months, the Urger is in dry dock in Lyons, New York, where canal staff will be preparing it for the 2011 navigation season.

Celebrating more than 100 years of service, the tug Urger is the Canal Corporation’s flagship vessel. It was christened the Henry J. Dornbos in Michigan on June 13, 1901, and saw service as a fishing boat in the Great Lakes for two decades.

In the early 1920s, the tug was sold, renamed the Urger, and entered the New York State Canal fleet. Stationed in Waterford, the Urger served more than 60 years hauling machinery, dredges, and scows on the Erie and Champlain Canals until she was retired from service in the late 1980s.

In 1991 Capt. Schuyler M. Meyer, Jr., founder for the private non-profit State Council on Waterways, was given a permit to operate the tug as a floating classroom along the canal system, teaching elementary school students about the original Erie Canal and today’s expanded, modern-day inland waterway. Upon Capt. Meyer’s passing in the mid 1990s, the Canal Corporation continued the program and used the Urger as the official ambassador for the New York State Canal System, serving as the focal point of its educational program since 1994.

The Urger has been on the State and National Registers of Historic Places since September, 2001.

The Tug Urger Educational Program is available to all New York State schools at no cost. Class size and presentations are limited and are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information on how to take advantage of this educational program or to schedule a visit to your community, call 518-471-5349 or visit the Canal Corporation’s Website and click on “Tugboat Urger.”

The New York State Canal System is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture.

Photo: State canals Director Carmella R. Mantello is shown speaking with local school children who are touring the 109 year-old Tug Urger in Waterford Harbor. The historic state vessel cruises the 524-mile state canal system each season teaching young students about the early canal era and today’s modern-day inland waterway.

Admiral Byrd’s ‘City of New York’ Relics at Auction


By on

0 Comments

The wheel, binnacle (compass) and bell from the ship the City of New York, famously used in Admiral Byrd’s 1929 exploration of Antarctica, and infamously a ship that failed to aid the imperiled Titanic, will be offered for the first time at public auction on November 17th in Dallas, Texas. The items are expected to bring over $10,000.

The history of the City of New York began in 1885, when she was known as the Samson, a 170-foot steam barque, whose first duty was as a sealing ship operating in arctic waters. On the night of April 14, 1912, loaded with 3000 pounds of illegal frozen seal in her hold, Samson was in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador.

“On the horizon the crew saw signal rockets fired into the night by an unidentified ship,” said auction director Tom Slater. “Fearing a boarding by the Royal Navy, the crew doused the ship’s lights and quickly steamed out of the area. A few days later the captain of Samson heard the news of the sinking of RMS Titanic with the loss of 1517 lives.”

As additional news of the disaster spread, it became clear to the captain and crew of Samson that they did not come to the Titanic’s aid. The captain of SS Californian, another ship in the vicinity which did not respond, was publicly pilloried and became an outcast. Those on the Samson all wisely kept quiet about their unknowing abandonment of Titanic until 1962, the 50th anniversary of the sinking.

The Samson continued to ply the icy waters of the world, well known to the men racing to find glory in the arctic and Antarctic. In 1915 it rescued Sir Ernest Shackleton, who, having been beaten to the South Pole by Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen, turned his attention to an attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. When his ship, the Endurance, became icebound, it was the Samson that finally got him and his men to safe harbor after more than a year in the icy wilds.

It was actually Amundsen himself that recommended Samson to America’s Admiral Richard Byrd, who was planning an expedition to the Antarctic. Byrd followed his friend’s advice and purchased Samson to be his flagship on the expedition. It was renamed the City of New York, and in 1928 went with Byrd on his first expedition, along with one more ship and three airplanes. From there, City of New York participated in the photographic expeditions and geological surveys and the famous Nov. 28, 1929 flight to the South Pole and back, which captivated the world.

“The flight was successful, if harrowing, and it entered Byrd into the history books,” said Slater. “The expedition returned to North America on June 18, 1930 and was honored with the gold medal of the American Geographical Society.”

Byrd became wildly popular, and interest in his expedition did not diminish. In 1932, City of New York was sailed through the Great Lakes to the site of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, the ship was outfitted with artifacts of the expedition, and served as a floating museum throughout the fair.

In 1944, legendary yachtsman Lou Kennedy, bought City of New York, and converted her into a three-masted schooner. During the refitting, Kennedy discovered the ship’s wheel, binnacle (compass), and bell were all original equipment on Samson, and that Byrd had the bell and wheel engraved with the ship’s new name, City of New York when he retrofitted it in 1927. Kennedy replaced them and kept the originals, along with an intricately knotted ceremonial bell-pull used to ring President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard when he visited the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. The old ship burned and sank in 1953, ending a long career where she played a role in some of the twentieth century’s greatest sea tragedies and triumphs.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, visit HA.com.

Early American Crime Site Launches Podcast


By on

0 Comments

One of the more interesting early American sites on the internets, Anthony Vaver’s Early American Crime, is now available as a podcast. Beginning with “Early American Criminals: Thomas Mount and the Flash Company,” you can subscribe to hear (as well as read) tales of America’s earliest criminals.

Early American Crime features stories about the criminal underworld of colonial America and the early United States including criminal profiles, cultural essays, features on early crime slang, and an outstanding series of posts on convict transportation including it’s evolution as a new form of punishment, the business of transportation, convict voyages, and the end of the system.

Vaver described his site when it launched in 2008 by saying: “Crime and its punishment are among the top social concerns in the United States today. Over one percent of the adult population in the United States now lives in prison, and even though the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it holds almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Stories of crime fill our newspapers and affect the elections of our public officials. Yet, we as Americans know little about the history of crime and punishment that has brought us to this point. My hope is that this website will help provide a more complete understanding of crime and punishment in America by focusing on its early appearance and practice.”

The site is well worth taking a look at, and now also a listen to.

Historic Civil War Coastal Survey Documents Online


By on

0 Comments

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has assembled a special historical collection of maps, charts, and documents prepared by the U.S. Coast Survey during the war years. The collection, “Charting a More Perfect Union,” contains over 400 documents, available free from NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey website.

Coast Survey’s collection includes 394 Civil War-era maps, including nautical charts used for naval campaigns, and maps of troop movements and battlefields. Rarely seen publications include Notes on the Coast, prepared by Coast Survey to help Union forces plan naval blockades against the Confederacy, and the annual report summaries by Superintendent Bache as he detailed the trials and tribulations of producing the maps and charts needed to meet growing military demands.

In the nation’s early years, the United States lost more ships to accidents than to war. In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson established the Survey of the Coast to produce the nautical charts necessary for maritime safety, defense and the establishment of national boundaries. By 1861, Coast Survey was the government’s leading scientific agency, charting coastlines and determining land elevations for the nation. Today, the Office of Coast Survey still meets its maritime responsibilities as a part of NOAA, surveying America’s coasts and producing the nation’s nautical charts.

In his annual report on Dec. 15, 1861, Coast Survey Superintendent Alexander Bache wrote, “it has been judged expedient during the past year to suspend usual foreign distribution” of reports on the progress of maps and charts. Distribution of maps, charts, and sketches almost tripled in the 1861 “due to the demands of the War and Navy Departments.” However, because the Coast Survey could not easily ascertain the loyalties of private citizens, private distribution of maps was severely restricted among “applicants who were not well known having been referred to the representative of the congressional district from which the application had been mailed.”

The Civil War special collection is accessible through a searchable online database.

Illustration: Map of the Battlefield of Chickamauga. U.S. Coast Survey cartographers traveled with Union forces to produce battlefield maps during the Civil War. Courtesy NOAA.

George Washington’s Great Gamble Author Event


By on

0 Comments

Fort Ticonderoga’s 2010 Author Series concludes on Sunday, October 17th, with James Nelson, author of George Washington’s Great Gamble: And the Sea Battle That Won the American Revolution. The program takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga at 2:00 p.m., followed by a book signing at 3:00 p.m. in the Fort Ticonderoga Museum Store. The program is included in the cost of admission.

In George Washington’s Great Gamble, Nelson tells the story of the greatest naval engagement of the American Revolution. In the opening months of 1781, General George Washington feared his army would not survive the coming campaign season. The spring and summer only served to reinforce his despair, but in late summer the changing circumstances of war presented a once-in-a-war opportunity for a French armada to hold off the mighty British navy while his own troops with French reinforcements would drive Lord Cornwallis’s forces to the Chesapeake. The Battle of the Capes would prove the only time the French ever fought the Royal Navy to a draw; but for the British army it was a catastrophe, leading to Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown.

James L. Nelson is the author of 15 works of fiction and nonfiction. His novels include the five books of his “Revolution at Sea” saga and three in his “Brethren of the Coast” series. His novel Glory in the Name won the American Library Association’s W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Best Military Fiction. He is also the author of Benedict Arnold’s Navy and George Washington’s Secret Navy, which earned the Samuel Eliot Morison Award.

‘The Black Pirate’ Showing in Albany


By on

0 Comments

“The Black Pirate” (United States, 1926, 94 minutes, color, silent with live piano accompaniment provided by Mike Schiffer) will be shown on Friday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, the screening is free and open to the public.

Starring the greatest of all swashbucklers, Douglas Fairbanks (who also wrote the script), “The Black Pirate” is widely hailed as one of the most spectacular action films of the silent era. Directed by Albert Parker, the film also pioneered the art of color with its use of “two-strip Technicolor.”

For additional information contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.

Lyons Erie Canal Improvements Opened


By on

0 Comments

The New York State Canal Corporation and the Village of Lyons, Wayne County, have officially opened the Lyons waterfront improvements along the Erie Canal at North Side Canal Park. The opening event also welcomed the 2010 World Canals Conference International Flotilla which was en route to Rochester.

The project, partially funded through an Erie Canal Greenway Grant, provided new docks on both sides of the Erie Canal and additional improvements to the boating area and park.

The flotilla was bound for Rochester as part of the 2010 World Canals Conference September 20-24. Included in the flotilla were boats from the Canal Corporation’s historic and working fleet, historic tugboats, and a variety of recreational pleasure craft. From the junction of the Erie Canal and Genesee River the fleet traveled north along the Genesee River, in a grand parade to Corn Hill Landing in Rochester.

Directions to the North Side Canal Park in Lyons: Take NYS Thruway (I-90) to Interchange 42 (Geneva, Lyons, Route 14) toward Sodus Point. Turn left to Route 14 North. Turn left onto Water Street. Municipal parking is available adjacent to the Firehouse.

Glens Falls Feeder Canal and Towpath Trail Improvements


By on

0 Comments

State and local officials have announced completion of connection improvements to the Glens Falls Feeder Canal and Towpath Trail, and officially opened the improved waterfront.

The “Warren County – Improving Feeder Canal Community Connections Project” has expanded community connections along the Glens Falls Feeder Canal and the Towpath Trail with $140,585 funded by the New York State Canal Corporation through the Erie Canal Greenway Grant Program.

Warren County partnered with the Canal Corporation, the City of Glens Falls, the Town of Queensbury and the Feeder Canal Alliance, a not-for-profit entity whose mission includes preserving and expanding public use of the Feeder Canal Towpath and associated structures.

Work has been completed in both the Overlook Park in the Town of Queensbury and Haviland Cove in the City of Glens Falls. Site improvements to both parks included resurfacing of the roadways, trailways and parking areas, including Haviland Cove, where school buses park. Electrical services were also installed in both parks, including the pavilion in Haviland Cove. Benches, tables, grills, and a covered pavilion were installed in Overlook Park. Additionally, 3.6 miles of towpath trail was resurfaced by county work forces with stonedust for use as a bike and pedestrian trail.

In addition, the Canal Corporation provided $9,000 to complete signage along the seven-mile Feeder Canal Trail in both Warren and Washington Counties. Weathered signs were refurbished and replaced, and obsolete signs were replaced with new interpretive signs.

The Erie Canal Greenway Grant Program, administered by the Canal Corporation, was created to help spur community revitalization along the 524-mile Canal System. Fifty-four Greenway grants were awarded on a competitive basis to communities and non-profit organizations for capital projects that enhance and promote tourism, recreation, historic interpretation, and community revitalization in 19 counties along the New York State Canal System. All grants require a 50-percent match in local funds or in-kind services.

The New York State Canal System is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture.

The New York State Canal Corporation is a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority. In 1992 State legislation transferred the Canal System from the New York State Department of Transportation to the Thruway Authority. Canal operating and maintenance activities are supported by Thruway toll revenues.

Photo: Glens Falls Feeder Canal Lock 1. Photo Courtesy of Tug44.org.

Boating Museum Donates Important Canal Marker


By on

4 Comments

The Finger Lakes Boating Museum commemorated the important role of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal in the development of Geneva by donating an historical marker for the city’s waterfront. City and boating museum officials dedicated the marker in a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday on the lakefront near the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce building. Bill Oben, President of the Boating Museum, made the presentation to Mayor Stu Einstein.

The dedication ceremony coincided with the stopover in Geneva of the Lois McClure, an 88-foot canal schooner moored for three days on the lakefront just west of the Chamber. The McClure is a full-scale working replica of an 1862 canal schooner, a unique example of working vessels that carried goods throughout Northeastern waterways during the 19th century.

“The scheduled arrival of the schooner Lois McClure in Geneva harbor this week is a wonderful reminder of the significant role the Cayuga-Seneca Canal played in the development of Geneva and the region beyond throughout the 19th century,” said Oben. “The last vestiges of the canal along the Geneva waterfront disappeared long ago as the old waterway was filled in to make way for the arterial highway. As we plan the future home of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum on the site of the original entrance to this historic canal, it’s appropriate to recognize this with placement of an enduring marker identifying the former location of this important transportation artery.”

Oben said the historical marker at the original canal entrance will be similar to others already along the waterfront that note significant people and places in Geneva’s history. Geneva Granite donated the granite base for the plaque.

The plaque on the marker will read as follows: “At this point in 1828, water from Seneca Lake was first released into the newly constructed Cayuga-Seneca Canal, forming a navigable link to the Erie Canal. This waterway enabled commerce to flow between Seneca and the Hudson River and soon became an economic engine that brought wealth and prosperity to the City of Geneva and other municipalities along its path. Eventually supplanted by rail and truck transportation, this channel was abandoned in the 1920s and ultimately filled in.”

The boating museum reached agreement with the City of Geneva last fall to establish a permanent home on the Geneva waterfront in association with the Visitor Center. The facility, which will be located on the current Chamber site, is being enabled by a $3.5 million grant provided to the city by State Sen. Michael Nozzolio.

The boating museum has assembled a collection of 100 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. The collection is being moved to a storage facility in the Geneva Enterprise Development Center on North Genesee Street arranged by the Geneva Industrial Development Authority.

Portions of the collection will be displayed on a rotating basis within the new facility. Also planned are interactive workshops and displays to engage visitors in the design, construction and use of the boats and an active on-water program including sailing and small boat handling.

The boating museum is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation and was chartered by the New York State Department of Education in 1997 to “research, document, preserve and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region.”

Additional information about the boating museum may be found on its website.

The canal schooner Lois McClure, whose homeport is Lake Champlain, is making a 1,000-mile journey across New York’s canals as it stops in 20 ports of call. The tour will culminate in September with a trip to the World Canals Conference in Rochester. The schooner also stopped in Geneva in 2007 on a similar tour.

The expedition is made possible by a partnership between the New York State Canal Corporation, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, and the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership. This voyage is an opportunity for the public to learn more about the region’s interconnected waterways and the many activities found along the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, highlighting the Canal System’s roles in transportation, recreation and tourism. Tours of the boat with interpretive presentations, wayside exhibits and educational materials will be provided free of charge to the public at each stop.

The schooner is a full-scale replica of an 1862 sailing canal boat. Constructed in Burlington, Vt., and launched in 2004, the Lois McClure is an exact replica of canal schooners found shipwrecked in the waters of Lake Champlain. The unique sailing-canal boats were the tractor-trailers of the 19th century, designed to sail from lake cities to canal ports using wind power. Upon reaching a canal, the masts were lowered and centerboards raised, transforming the vessel into a typical canal boat.

The schooner is named for Lois McClure, who was born in 1926 and grew up in Burlington, Vt. In 1954, McClure married James Warren McClure, an owner and publisher of the Burlington Free Press, and later a major stockholder and Vice President of the Gannett Company, Inc. In 1971, the McClures left Burlington for Rochester, where Lois McClure continued her education. In 1978, after J. Warren McClure retired, they moved to Key Largo, Fla., spending summers in Charlotte, until they returned to Vermont in 2002.

In the 1970s, the McClures began to make significant financial contributions to organizations in the Burlington area and elsewhere. After her husband became ill in the 1990s, Lois McClure took on the leadership role in their philanthropy, a role she has continued since her husband’s death in 2004. The schooner was named in McClure’s honor for her major contribution to the schooner construction and support of many other community projects.

Photo: Bill Oben (left), president of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, presents Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein with a copy of the historical marker that the boating museum donated to the city to mark the entrance to the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. In the background is the Lois McClure, a replica of a canal boat that stopped in Geneva on a tour of New York State canal waterways.

A Stony Point Lighthouse Cruise


By on

0 Comments

Spend an evening aboard the historic M.V. Commander enjoying a two hour cruise along the scenic Hudson River. While on-board, discover the fascinating history surrounding Haverstraw Bay, the Lower Highlands, and the 1826 Stony Point Lighthouse as told by local history narrator, Scott Craven. Enjoy spectacular views of the illuminated Stony Point Lighthouse as participants sail up-river.

The cruise will take place in October 9, 2000 6 pm to 8 pm. Advanced reservations are required. Please call the site office for reservations and further information: (845) 786-2521. Admission: $30 adults, $25 seniors (62+), and $15 children (5-12).

The cruise departs Haverstraw Marina at 6:00 PM. Boarding by 5:45 PM; it is recommended you arrive at the parking lot by 5:30 PM. The Commander is located at the Haverstraw Marina. Light refreshments will be available for purchase on board. Directions can be found online.

The evening program is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Stony Point Battlefield & Lighthouse and Hudson Highland Cruises, Inc. The evenings proceeds will directly benefit the Friends’ Lighthouse Lens Fund that has been set up to help finance the restoration of the 4th Order Fresnel lens that will be moved from the Lighthouse to the more secure and environmentally stable Lighthouse Gallery in the site’s museum.

Photo: The historic M.V. Commander plies the Hudson River.

Frederick Douglass’s 1843 Lecture to Highlight Tour


By on

0 Comments

One hundred and sixty-six summers ago– one year after fugitive slave Frederick Douglass lectured in Keeseville–Albany Underground Railroad agent Abel Brown “took” the Burlington steamboat on Lake Champlain and reported, “Many a slave has enjoyed the indescribable pleasure of leaping from the liberty-loving Burlington.”

Hundreds of fugitives from slavery escaped every year to New York City. They were forwarded to Albany and onto Champlain Canal packet boats. At Whitehall they boarded the Burlington. From Port Kent, they could make their way to Keeseville and Stephen Keese Smith’s farm in Peru. Smith hid fugitives from slavery in his barns and drove them in his uncle’s wagon to Champlain. Then Noadiah Moore took them across the border to Lacolle, Canada, and helped them find work. They were free, at last.

People opposed the abolitionists. Friends and neighbors turned against them. Brethren left their churches.

On August 14th, North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association’s President, Don Papson, will lead a guided tour, “Villages and Churches Divided.” The tour will begin with a 10 am orientation in Keeseville’s Ausable Valley Grange at 1749 Main Street. Stops will be made at abolition and UGRR sites where participants will read passages from historic documents. The trial of Rev. Andrew Witherspoon and the stirring words of Frederick Douglass will be relived. The last stop at 3 pm will be at a hidden room. Participants must apply early as the tour is limited to 20 people. The cost is $30 for members of NCUGRHA; $40 for non members. Each participant is asked to pack a lunch, wear walking shoes and bring an umbrella. To register, please contact Helen Nerska at 518-643-0938 or email allenhomestead@gmail.com

“Villages and Churches Divided” is a 5th Annual Canal Splash! event. Canal Splash! celebates the history and culture of New York’s Canals.

Lois McClure at Champlain Canal’s Hudson Crossing


By on

0 Comments

On Wednesday July 28, from 10am to 5pm, the 90-foot canal schooner Lois McClure while will be docked at Hudson Crossing Park, located on Champlain Canal Lock 5 Island, off of Route 4 just north of Schuylerville, Saratoga County.

The schooner Lois McClure is a full-scale replica of an 1862 sailing canal boat. These unique vessels were designed to sail from lake cities to canal ports using wind power and then to lower their masts and sails when traveling along canals. The schooner staff will share stories about the boat and its role in New York State history.

Hudson Crossing President Marlene Bissell welcomes the Lois McClure back and says, “Seeing and boarding this exquisite replica of an authentic canal boat makes you feel like you’ve stepped back to another era. It’s an exciting way to experience the continuum of history that the Hudson River and Champlain Canal holds.”

Hudson Crossing is a bi-county educational park project centered on and near the Champlain Canal Lock 5 Island of the Hudson River. For more information about this event or to learn more about Hudson Crossing Bi-County Park, please call Marlene Bissell at 518.859.1462 or visit their website.

Champlain Maritime Museum Small Boat Fest


By on

0 Comments

A celebration of small-boating will be held at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont on Saturday and Sunday, July 17th, and 18th. The event will include the Grand Opening of the new Hazelett Watercraft Center and the exhibit “Celebrating the Small Watercraft of Lake Champlain,” displays by contemporary boat builders, on-water boat trials, workshops, and illustrated talks. On Saturday there will be a Kids Duct Tape Regatta. On Sunday the Lake Champlain Challenge Race will be held during which participants with their own non-motorized boat, kayak, or canoe compete in a three-mile race from the museum’s North Harbor. Continue reading

Maritime Center Offers Family Boat Building


By on

0 Comments

In collaboration with Buffalo Place the Buffalo Maritime Center is holding a Family Boat-Building workshop on the Buffalo Waterfront. Under the guidance of skilled boat-builders, families will construct their own boat this Saturday and Sunday, July 10th and 11th (9 am – 4 pm). Everything needed to build the boat, along with instruction, will be provided to participants who can choose one from two boats: the 6 Hour Canoe (15 feet long, cost $600) or the Black Rock Skimmer (15 feet long, cost $750).

This first-ever Family Boat Building weekend for the Buffalo Maritime Center is designed for families that want to foster their cross-generational bonding and discover how well they can work together – introducing old and young family members to
woodworking. Families will take their boats home for painting and miscellaneous finish work. No previous woodworking experience required.

The workshop will be held adjacent to the Central Wharf near the Naval & Military Park located at the foot of Pearl and Main streets, across from HSBC Arena. Space is limited, so reserve soon by calling the Buffalo Maritime Center at (716) 878-6532
or e-mailing buffalomc901@gmail.com.

Oral History Books: Lost Voices from the Titantic


By on

0 Comments

On April 15, 1912, the HMS Titanic sank, killing 1,517 people and leaving the rest clinging to debris in the frozen waters of the North Atlantic awaiting rescue. In a new Oral History of the disaster, historian Nick Barratt provides a narrative of the disaster in the words of those involved — among them the designers and naval architects at the White Star Line; first-class aristocratic passengers and the families in third class and steerage; and the boards of inquiry.

Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History combines tales of folly and courage. Barratt has gathered the aspirations of the owners, the efforts of the crew, and of course, the eyewitness accounts from those lucky enough to survive. Barratt was lucky enough to interview the last surviving passenger of the Titanic about the way the disaster had shaped her life.

The majority of the book however, relies on letters, newspaper articles, memoirs, correspondence, and a few large collections, such as those collated by the historian Walter Lord. In part because the work rests on the words of witnesses rather than a technical account of the sinking, the book uses a surprising amount of original heretofore unpublished material.

Nick Barratt is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and writes for Ancestor magazine. He is a director of Firebird Media and is on the National Executive Board of the Federation of Family History Societies. He lives in London.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Stony Point Lighthouse Evening Lantern Tour


By on

0 Comments

The Friends of Stony Point Battlefield & Lighthouse invite you to travel back in time to the nineteenth-century. Let’s imagine that you have been appointed lighthouse keeper by the United States Light House Establishment. In the days before GPS, you are solely responsible for safely navigating ships around the narrow bend in the Hudson River above Haverstraw Bay.

Every hour, all night long, you must climb up the two ladders into the lantern room to clean the windows and the glass prisms of the light and make sure the lamp is still burning bright. When it is raining, snowing or foggy, you must also walk the steep path down to the fog bell near the river every four hours to rewind the mechanical clock. Still interested in maintaining your post as Keeper of the Stony Point Lighthouse?

The romance of the lighthouse keeper meets the reality of the physical labor involved in keeping the maritime community safe in a slide lecture presented by Scott Craven at 7:30 PM on Saturday, June 19, 2010. Drawing on a wealth of images of 19th and 20th century boats, lighthouses and community life on the river, Craven illuminates the maritime history along the Hudson. He will review the 14 lighthouses that were once used to protect the river, focusing on the 8 that remain today.

Craven will also discuss the many other navigational aides that were part of the US Light House Establishment’s protection in the Hudson River and talk about what is used today to keep commercial traffic flowing smoothly and recreation boaters safe. After the presentation in the museum, Craven will give guided tours of the Stony Point Lighthouse – with its breathtaking views of the Hudson River by moonlight. (Don’t worry, you’ll only have to climb the two ladders once!)

The evening program begins at 7:30 PM, with the gate opening at 7:00 PM.

Admission: $4 adults, $3 seniors and children 10 and older.
This program is not appropriate for children younger than age 10.

The historic site is located at 44 Battlefield Road, accessed from Park Road. off Route 9W in Stony Point.

For more information and directions and to secure your advanced reservation, which is required for this program, please call the site office at 845-786-2521.

Rocking Another Boat at the Adirondack Museum


By on

0 Comments

There is a new boat on the small pond at the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York. It is a Bisby Scow and will be used to provide a genuine “on the water” experience for thousands of museum visitors this summer.

The new boat is a reproduction of one in the museum’s extensive collection. Although “Adirondack” in design and history, this Bisby scow started life far from the North Country. The hand-made boat is the work of young boat builders from the Bronx, participants in Rocking the Boat, a non-profit youth development organization.

On Saturday, May 22, 2010, the boat building crew, accompanied by adult builders and faculty, delivered, christened, and launched the Bisby Scow on the museum pond. This is the second boat created by Rocking the Boat expressly for the Adirondack Museum. The first, a replica of an Adirondack logging bateau, was launched in 2007.

Rocking the Boat is a traditional wooden boat building and environmental education program based in the southwest Bronx, New York City. Through an alternative multi-faceted hands-on approach to education and youth development, Rocking the Boat addresses the need for inner city youth to achieve practical and tangible goals, relevant to both everyday life and future aspirations. The program was founded in 1995.

Young people enrolled in the program have built well more than twenty boats over the time, and Rocking the Boat is recognized as one of the most dynamic after school and summer programs in New York City. For more information, visit www.rockingtheboat.org.

Museum Curator Hallie Bond, who coordinated the project, says that a member of the Bisby Club designed the original Bisby Scow in 1888. The craft was intended for all-purpose every day use and few exist today. The Bisby Scow in the collection of the Adirondack Museum – a rare survivor — dates from the 1920s: the name of the builder is unknown.

The Adirondack Museum has the second largest collection of inland wooden watercraft in the United States. Many extraordinary examples are on display in the popular exhibit “Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, 1850 – 1950.”

Photo: Young boat builders from the Rocking the Boat project with their new boat, christened Naomi II.