Tugboat URGER Launches 111th Year

Flagship of the Canal System Offers Education Programs

Related Media

WATERFORD, NY (05/11/2012)(readMedia)-- The Tugboat URGER, once the workhorse of state inland waterways and the flagship of the New York State Canal system, returns for another year as a floating classroom this week.

On Friday, May 11, 2012, the URGER hosted fourth grade students from Orenda Elementary School at Lock E-2 on the Erie Canal in Waterford. The URGER opened its current classroom season earlier in the week with stops in Whitehall and Schuylerville on the Champlain Canal.

Brian U. Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation, said, "The URGER brings history to life again along the canal. Thousands of fourth grade students will come aboard this year to learn about their heritage and the importance of protecting our precious natural resources."

This year, the URGER is under the command of a new skipper: Captain Wendy Marble. She brings to the URGER nearly 25 years of experience on New York's Canals and other adjacent waterways. She has worked aboard educational vessels at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, and the HMS Rose Foundation in Bridgeport, Conn.

"I am so proud to take the helm of this storied tugboat, and to be entrusted with the important role of introducing the next generation to their rich maritime heritage," Captain Marble said. "This is a wonderful opportunity and I am excited to make new friends as we help inspire future canallers."

In the spring and fall of each year the historic tugboat, and its crew of four, travels the waters of New York State. Students stepping aboard the URGER learn about the rich history of the canals and the impact they had on New York and the nation. Students also gain valuable knowledge about the potential sources of contamination for our waterways, and how to take steps to protect our vital natural resources.

The 111-year-old URGER served as a maintenance tugboat on the canal system from 1922 through 1986. It began its second career as a floating museum and classroom in 1991. The URGER also represents the Canal system at festivals and other events.

Please see the attached tentative schedule for the Tugboat URGER for 2012.


Built in 1901 in Ferrysburg, Mich., URGER is one of the oldest working vessels in the country. Built for use as a commercial fishing vessel on the Great Lakes, she was christened the "Henry J. Dornbos," after a prominent Michigan merchant. It was described in the Detroit Free Press as the "finest fishing boat in the local fishing fleet."

In the early 1920s, the tug, renamed the "URGER." entered the New York State Canal fleet. It served more than 60 years, hauling machinery, dredges and scows on the Erie and Champlain Canals until it was retired from active service in 1986.

Now in its 188th consecutive season of operation, the New York State Canal system is comprised of four historic waterways: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals.

The New York State Canal system stretches 524 miles across Upstate New York. It links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and Lake Erie (via the Niagara River.) For more information about the New York State Canal System, call 1-800-4CANAL4 or visit www.canals.ny.gov