Retired canal workboat to become part of N.Y. exhibit

(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) — The New York State Canal Corp. has announced that one of its retired canal workboats, Tender 4, will be displayed in the city of Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park as part of a new educational exhibit featuring the history of New York’s canals in the Mohawk Valley.

The vessel being donated to the Montgomery County community has supported maintenance activities on the Erie Canal and Mohawk River for decades and will now serve a new role by teaching park visitors about the waterway and Amsterdam’s history as a canal port.

Tender 4 spent decades working the Erie Canal and Mohawk River. New York State Canal Corp. photo

“For many years, Tender 4 plied the waters of the Erie Canal supporting our workforce as they maintained the navigable waterway, and now through this donation to the city of Amsterdam, we are ensuring residents and park visitors alike learn firsthand about canal operations,” said New York State Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton. “I applaud Mayor (Michael) Cinquanti and his team for creating an educational exhibit that highlights Amsterdam’s deep connection to the canal and allows Tender 4 to continue its service as an ambassador for the historic waterway.”

Amsterdam intends to display Tender 4 near the amphitheater and docks in Riverlink Park. Informational placards at the site will explain the vessel’s role in supporting canal operations and the history of the Erie Canal in Amsterdam. The boat will be located on the eastern side of the park at the end of an existing walking trail.

“This vessel and the story of how it served the canal’s operational needs over the years will make both a positive visual and educational addition to our waterfront,” Cinquanti said.

Built in 1926 by American Boiler Works in Erie, Pa., Tender 4 measures 40 feet long and 11 feet wide. The vessel is one of nine tenders built for the canal corporation in the 1920s and is the only tender of that era retired at this time.

Tenders, larger than the canal corporation’s buoy boats and smaller than its tugboats, were built with a shallow draft to allow greater maneuverability than the fleet’s larger tugs, while also providing more space aboard for workers and supplies than a buoy boat. They were originally built as fleet support vessels, generally tasked with transporting supplies and people from shore to workstations on the water. Over time, they were also deployed in removing debris and pushing or pulling other vessels.

Amsterdam is a stop on the current canal system for vessels traveling east and west during the navigation season. Local recreational enthusiasts also use the Erie Canal and Mohawk River in the city for kayaking, canoeing and fishing. In addition, the canal corporation’s “On the Canals” program hosts free excursions and other community offerings in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam expects to open the new display in the spring of 2024.

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By Professional Mariner Staff