Rome Rotary Club will feature the state Canal Corporation’s flagship vessel, the tugboat Urger, throughout its 10th annual Canalfest to be held Friday through Sunday at Bellamy Harbor Park.
Those who attend Canalfest will have the opportunity to board the floating museum from 5-8 p.m. Friday; and from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The tugboat Urger is the flagship of the fleet of vessels operated by the Canal Corporation on the 524-mile canal system. Built in 1901 in Ferrysburg, Mich. the tug is one of the oldest working vessels in the country still afloat. Originally built for use as a commercial shipping vessel, the Urger was originally 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 was sold, renamed the "Urger," and entered the canal fleet. Stationed in Waterford, the Urger served more than 60 years hauling machinery, dredges and scows on the Erie and Champlain canals until it was retired from service in the 1980s.
In 1991, the Urger was called back into service with a new mission. It now serves as the focal point of a program to educate children and adults about the importance of New York’s historic canal system and the role that inland waterways have played historically, and continue to play, in the lives of people who live along them.
The Urger visits communities along the canal system where students in fourth grade classes at local schools take field trips to the tug and participate in shore-side 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."
The educational program is presented by the state Canal Corporation at no charge. During summer, the Urger cruises to numerous cities, towns and villages along the canal system for community festivals.