NEW YORK, NY (07/13/2012)(readMedia)-- One of the oldest working tugboats in America has cruised down the Hudson River to New York Harbor to attend "City of Water Day," and make other public stops while promoting tourism along the iconic Erie Canal and the entire New York State Canal System, the Canal Corporation has announced.
Launched in 1901 and listed on the National Historic Register, the URGER has served as the Canal's flagship and floating classroom since 1991. On Saturday, July 14th, the URGER will be moored at the National Park Service dock at Pier 102 on Governor's Island and open to the public as part of the annual City of Water Day. The event is sponsored by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance as a way to publically bring together everything about the water that is exciting and fun, from port commerce to environmental education to active recreation, and as a celebration of the potential of the waterfront.
The URGER will make other public stops along the Hudson River and New York Harbor during her two-week lower New York swing including Kingston, West Point, Hudson River Park's Pier 25, South Street Seaport Museum, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point.
Howard P. Milstein, Chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation, said, "The URGER is an enduring symbol of the rich history of the Erie Canal, and our greatest ambassador for promoting tourism along this vibrant and scenic waterway. We look forward to engaging people throughout the Hudson Valley and New York Metropolitan area, and sharing the compelling story of how the Erie Canal helped make New York the Empire State and New York City the financial capital of the world."
Brian U. Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation, said, "187 years ago, Governor Dewitt Clinton traveled from Lake Erie to New York Harbor to marry the waters of the Atlantic and the Great Lakes, and in doing so revolutionize transportation and communication for our young Nation. As the URGER retraces the journey of the Seneca Chief, we continue to celebrate the legacy of visionary New Yorkers like Clinton, while promoting today's Canal as a fun, unique recreation destination for visitors from around the State, and around the world."
Capt. Wendy Marble, Captain of the URGER, said, "The crew can't wait to meet new friends and create new memories as we bring the story and spirit of the Erie Canal to the New York metropolitan area, as well as communities along the Hudson River. We plan to tell people about the variety of things to see and do along today's Canal System, and introduce them to a world of adventure that's just a short drive up the Thruway, or scenic train ride along the Hudson River."
When the URGER , now the flagship of the Canal fleet, slid down the ways at Johnston Brothers Shipyard in Ferrysburg, Mich. on June 13, 1901, the Detroit Free Press dubbed her the "finest boat in the local fishing fleet." Originally christened the Henry J. Dornbos, the vessel was operated by the Verduin family on Lake Michigan for 20 years. Due to her unparalleled seaworthiness, the vessel was occasionally used by the U.S. Lifesaving Service (a forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard) for rescues on the lake.
In 1922, the vessel - given the eponymous name URGER in recognition of her new tasking - entered into service in New York as a maintenance tugboat on the recently completed Barge Canal, "urging" scows and barges along in conjunction with dredging and other maintenance activities. She remained in active, everyday operation until 1986 when she was retired from her regular maintenance duties.
In 1991, the URGER began a new chapter in her storied life as a floating museum and classroom. The URGER has spent the last two decades years serving as the focal point of a program to educate fourth graders about the importance of New York's historic Canal system and the role that it played in the state's economic and social development. More than 100,000 school children have gone aboard the URGER during this time, and disembarked with a renewed sense of the Erie Canal's incredible legacy.
Like the historic Canal system she serves on, the URGER remains a living symbol of history and longevity.
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 Lake Erie via the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture.
For more information the New York State Canal System, please call 1-800-4CANAL4 or visit www.nyscanals.gov .