Replica 1862 Canal Schooner Lois McClure on the Champlain Canal – Stern. Courtesy Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s (LCMM’s) replica 1862 canal schooner Lois McClure will be in port at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam on Thursday, July 13 from 12-6pm and Riverfront Park in Canajoharie on Friday, July 14 from 4-7pm during her 2017 Legacy Tour commemorating the Erie Canal Bicentennial. The World Canals Conference, which celebrates canals as “agents of transformation,” inspired the 2017 “Legacy Tour” of Lois McClure. The tour pays tribute to the legacy of the canals, which celebrate 200 years in 2017, and the legacy of the Northern Forest trees, which built the thousands of wooden boats that plied our waterways. Visitors can board the schooner free of charge to explore the 88-foot long boat and a special exhibit.” “The Lois McClure has a unique capability to bring 200 years of canal history to life, while engaging people to appreciate and protect our legacy waterways,” says New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton. “It can also help inform how the canal system can best serve the evolving needs of present and future generations.”
During the Legacy Tour the schooner crew will share with community members and students a maritime perspective on the relationship between waterways and trees, canal boats and forests through an initiative called Stem to Stern. “The forests and the waterways are a key to understanding how America transformed into a powerful and prosperous nation,” says Erick Tichonuk, LCMM Co-Executive Director. “Using human and animal power, the canal builders cleared a pathway 60 feet wide and more than 400 miles long, much of it through forested lands, to create the water highway that brought an economic boom. Almost overnight, natural resources too bulky to ship overland became valuable commodities.” The canals opened a floodgate of trade between the Champlain Valley, ports along the Hudson River and the Atlantic Seaboard, and through western New York to the Great Lakes.
However, the transformation also brought some unintended consequences. Stem to Stern is designed to spark insight into the impact of deforestation: eroded soil, silted waterways, loss of habitat for fish and wildlife, and the arrival of invasive species. Marking the transition to an era of habitat for fish and wildlife, and the arrival of invasive species. Marking the transition to an era sustainable forestry and environmental stewardship, the schooner will transport a cargo of white oak and white pine seedlings provided by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Trees for Tributaries Program, to be planted in communities along the canal.
Further information and the full itinerary of the 2017 Legacy Tour can be found at www.lcmm.org. Travel conditions for this traditional wooden vessel are weather dependent, so the schedule is subject to change.
Lois McClure was built by LCMM shipwrights and volunteers on the Burlington waterfront, based on two shipwrecks of 1862-class canal schooners discovered in Lake Champlain. Since 2004, Lois McClure has cruised Lake Champlain, the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers, and the Erie Canal System, and has visited over 200 communities and welcomed aboard more than 225,000 visitors. As an authentic replica, Lois McClure has no means of propulsion other than sail, so 1964 tugboat C. L. Churchill serves as power. As with all wooden vessels, constant care and maintenance is needed to ensure safe and effective operation.
Free admission is offered throughout the tour thanks to the generous support of sponsors including the New York State Canal Corporation and the State of Vermont. Additional support has been provided by Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership, Lake Champlain Basin Program, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the McClure family, the farm families of Cabot Creamery, Lake Champlain Transportation, Corning Museum of Glass, International Paper, and Vermont Family Forests. AmeriCorps Members have helped LCMM staff develop educational and interpretive materials for the project. Local hosts and supporters include the City of Amsterdam, Village of Canajoharie, the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie, and the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce. For information about the event, visit VisitMontgomeryCountyNY.com or (518)725-0641.
Schooner Lois McClure is an educational outreach program of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM), Vermont. A museum with a difference, LCMM brings underwater discoveries and lake adventures to the public in exciting and imaginative ways. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October 15, 2017. For more information visit www.lcmm.org or call (802) 475-2022.