Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Take A Crown Point Historic Schooner Tour

This weekend the historic wooden schooner, Lois McClure will make her last stop for the season at another historic location, Crown Point Pier, located on the water just below the Champlain Lighthouse. Those visitors of history; rejoice, lovers of ships; unite and budget watchers; celebrate. This tour is free.

Part of the Farm, Forestry and Fishery Tour, the 88′ schooner Lois McClure and Urger tugboat will offer free tours from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 on October 15-16 at the Crown Point Pier. This tour has been raising awareness of the importance of “sustainable agriculture, responsbile foresty and clean, healthy waterways.”

According to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum the Lois McClure is a replica of an 1862 class sailing canal schooner. She is modeled after two shipwrecks in Burlington Harbor, the OJ Walker and General Butler. Dive and Maritime Research teams were able to document those two wrecks and the building of the Lois McClure is the result.

Sarah Tichonek, Archaeologist and part of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Research Team, says “Lois McClure is a replica but she is based on 25 years of research through the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Art Cohn, the current Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum was one of the original divers that documented the shipwrecks to provide the necessary research. The Lois McClure has provided numerous educational opportunities for parents and children since her launch in 2004.”

Also in attendance this weekend will be the original tugboat Urger. According to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum this tug was built in Michigan in 1901 as a commercial shipping vessel. In the 1920s she entered the New York State Canal fleet where she hauled boats throughout the canal system. She was retired in the 1980s and is now a teaching vessel.

Visitors this weekend will be able to learn about the steering mechanisms, anchors and what materials were hauled by these historic vessels. Interpreters will be available to answer questions about the vessels as well as what it was like to grow up aboard a canal schooner.

“This is the best and closest way to see history without going back in time,” continues Tichonek. “These boats were operated mostly by families. In the 19th century they would have been living aboard and children would have been home schooled. This becomes a personal experience for children. They can go below, perhaps even raise and lower the anchor. It is a great opportunity for children and adults as well.”

As the home to Lois McClure and Urger, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located in Vergennes, Vermont. The museum is only open seasonally from mid-May through October 15th. The Lois McClure does tour every year through the Hudson Valley, Erie Canal and on to Canada. The 2012 is not available at this time. Crown Point Pier will be the last dockside tour for the 2011 season.

According to Tichonek, Lois McClure, Urger and the crew will be at Crown Point Pier this weekend, rain or shine. If this event is missed the next event to view the historic schooner may be the Lake Champlain Bridge opening on May 19-20, 2012.

Directions to the Crown Point Camp Site from I-87 (the Adirondack Northway) take Exit 31. Take Route 9N east to Westport. Turn south as Route 9N merges with Route 22. Follow Route 22/9N to Port Henry. Drive an additional four miles to Bridge Road. Turn onto Bridge Road and follow signs for the Champlain Lighthouse and Crown Point Camp Site, 784 Bridge Road. During the season there is usually a parking fee for day use. That should not apply at this time.

Photo: The Lois McClure under sail used with permission by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.


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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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