On September 5, 2009, the 102-year-old tug Pegasus tied up to a barge in the Hudson River ready to begin her day’s work. For more than 90 years, this classic harbor workhorse spent her days pushing oil barges, docking ships, and towing railroad cars. But on this day, she had a new and important job: to educate the public about New York’s storied maritime past and its present-day importance.
Pegasus was one of six historic vessels that participated in the North River Historic Ship Rally at Hudson River Park Pier 84 on Labor Day weekend 2009. The North River Historic Ship Society produced the day-long event to bring people to the water to learn about the past and present of New York Harbor, the busiest port on the East Coast and the third largest in the nation.
The 60-year-old tug Cornell, a retired railroad tugboat, which also offered free educational river trips to 175 people;In addition to Pegasus, which took a total of 175 adults and children out on the river during four free educational cruises, the following historic vessels also participated in the event:
- The 95-year-old Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge (a.k.a.Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge # 79), which welcomed more than 600 visitors for dockside tours;
- The Day Peckinpaugh, a 259-foot cargo carrier and motorship that plied the New York State Canal System from 1921 until 1994. Now owned by the New York State Museum, it accommodated 700 visitors on the New York City stop of its Lake Champlain-Hudson River Quadricentennial tour. The tour was sponsored by the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor;
- The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, which was open for dockside tours. Built by Pete Seeger and colleagues in 1969, the Clearwater has been at the forefront of the Hudson River cleanup;
- The 107 year-old-tugboat Urger,the flagship of the New York State Canal System, which offered an onshore educational display.
All events were free to the public. Thanks to a July 4 fundraising benefit at Pier 66 Maritime, the North River Historic Ship Society was able to provide the $12,000 required to pay for ship and crew costs. Thanks also to Friends of Hudson River Park for acting as co-sponsor and assisting with permitting and insurance, and to the Hudson River Park Trust for allowing us to use Pier 84 for this free public event.
North River Historic Ship Society is now raising funds to sponsor additional historic ship trips and tours in 2010. Click here to make a donation.