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New York State Canals

The Tug Urger

A Photo of the Tug UrgerThe tugboat “Urger” is the flagship of the fleet of vessels operated by the New York State Canal Corporation on the 524-mile Canal System.

Built in 1901 in Ferrysburg, Michigan, this venerable 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. She 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 New York State Canal fleet. Stationed in Waterford, the “Urger” served more than 60 years hauling machinery, dredges and scows on the Erie and Champlain Canals until she was retired from service in the 1980s.

A New Life as a “Teaching Tug”

In 1991, the “Urger” was called back into service with a new mission. She now serves as the focal point of a program to educate school 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 Tug UrgerIn the spring and fall, 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 shoreside “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 New York State Canal Corporation at no charge to the participating schools.

Promoting the Canals as a “Touring Tug”

During summer, the “Urger” cruises to numerous cities, towns and villages along the Canal System where she and her four-member crew serve as ambassadors for New York's Canals at community festivals celebrating their Canal heritage.

2014 Tug Urger Schedule

Graphic Representation of Tugboat Urger

Fall schedule:

  • September 24 – Seneca Falls – Cowing Street behind Museum
  • September 29-30 – Fairport – North wall near Visitor Center
  • October 3-4 – Lockport – Loctoberfest public tours
  • October 6 – Lockport – Upson Park, north side
  • October 9, 14-15 – Spencerport - North wall
  • October 16-17 – Brockport – South wall near Visitor Center
  • October 21 – Palmyra – South wall at Lock 29
  • October 22 – Newark – North wall near Boater Visitor Center
  • October 24 – Seneca Falls - Cowing Street behind Museum

Note: Information and dates a subject to change. For program information call 518-436-3055.

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History/Education

Tug Urger
Program Info
518-436-3055

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