The New York State Canal Corporation recently announced that the 115-year-old tugboat, Urger, is back in service as an educational teaching tugboat on New York’s canals for the 25th consecutive year.
The boat will be in the area on the following dates:October 21 - Fairport - north wall near Visitor's Center October 24-25 - Fairport - north wall near Visitor's Center October 27 - Newark - north wall near Visitor's Center
The fishing vessel was originally launched as Henry J. Dornbos in 1901 and earned the name Urger for its 64 years of urging scows and barges along the canal from 1922 to 1986.
In 1991, the vessel was reintroduced as a floating museum and classroom. Since then, over 100,000 students have stepped aboard and learned about the legacy of the Erie Canal.
Urger has been a key element in educating fourth-graders across the state about New York’s historic canal system and the role the canal has played in the economic development of New York state.
“I am thrilled to kick off the 25th season of education and interpretation aboard the legendary tugboat Urger,” said New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton. “Year after year, this iconic vessel provides an interactive, fun way for New York’s schoolchildren to immerse themselves in the rich culture and history of our state’s extensive canal system. With the knowledgeable and dedicated captain and crew on board the Urger, this season is sure to be another success.”
One of the oldest working tugboats in America, Urger is listed on the National Historic Register and is still operated as a bell boat, meaning that the captain has no direct control of the engine from the wheelhouse and instead signals an engineer with a series of bells and jingles, who then makes the necessary adjustments to the engine.
This season will be led by Capt. Steven Wunder along with engineer Mike Pelletier and deckhands Mike Byrnes and Dave Gower. Wunder has been a part of the Urger program since it first began and brings experience to this year’s Urger agenda.
“The Urger is equal parts flagship, museum, classroom and time machine; a vestige from another time, but also a perfect venue from which to reinforce the contemporary relevance and significance of today’s canal system,” said Wunder. “It is a privilege to skipper this venerable craft, bringing the story of the Erie Canal and its continuing lessons to children and adults alike all along New York’s waterways.”
The program also reinforces environmental stewardship of our waterways and helps students to “connect the drops,” which acts as a way to illustrate the relationship between our actions and water quality.
For information: 518-436-3055, canals.ny.gov/history/tugurger.html. Program sessions are scheduled at no cost to schools.