For Immediate Release: 05/28/19
Steven Gosset | Steven.Gosset@nypa.gov
Media Relations | (914) 390-8192
CANAL CORPORATION DEDICATES NEW TUG NAMED AFTER HISTORIC ERIE CANALTOWN IN MOHAWK VALLEY
The Port Jackson Joins the Elizabeth Cady Stanton as One of the Newest Vessels in the Canal Fleet
AMSTERDAM—The New York State Canal Corporation today dedicated a new tug named after an historic town in the Erie Canal—now part of the city of Amsterdam—as part of an effort to modernize the canal maintenance fleet.
The Port Jackson, a 26-foot push tug, was formally named during a ceremony in Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park along the Mohawk River. It will be based at the Canal Corporation maintenance facility in Fonda, supporting Canal Corporation crews working on the eastern Erie Canal.
“Amsterdam is justly proud of its rich Erie Canal heritage, and this new tug named after its historic ‘South Side,’ a busy port at the height of the Canal’s agriculture and goods transport days, is a fitting tribute,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. “I hope the naming of this tug will inspire more people to learn more about how the Canal transformed the Mohawk Valley.”
Named after Samuel Jackson, a farmer and merchant, Port Jackson, on the South side of the Mohawk, was a quintessential canal community, complete with locks, canal stores, boat facilities, low bridges and a dry dock. It also had a canal basin, making it possible for boats to turn around and easily load or unload cargo, and was home to an aqueduct built to carry the Erie Canal over the South Chuctanunda Creek.
Port Jackson was annexed by Amsterdam in 1888 and now lives on as the city’s South Side. Buildings original to Port Jackson still stand in this neighborhood, some of which are on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The Erie Canalway has long stood as a source of valued heritage, both in my home and hometown of Amsterdam and throughout New York State. Marking that history with the ceremonial naming of this push tug in honor of Amsterdam’s South Side is an inspiring reminder of who we are as a community and the history that has brought us together across generations,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who spoke at the dedication. “As a co-chair of the Heritage Areas Caucus and sponsor of a number of bills in the U.S. House of Representatives to strengthen America’s heritage areas system, I know well the importance of this work and offer my heartfelt congratulations to the New York State Canal Corporation and all involved for this noble expression.”
The 530-horsepower Port Jackson is one of the two newest additions to the Canal fleet, along with the Elizabeth Cady Stanton—named after the women’s suffrage pioneer—which was dedicated last week in Rochester by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and other officials.
“We are happy we can honor the illustrious past of New York’s canals, while also making strong investments in the canals’ future,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, of which the Canal Corporation is a subsidiary. “Amsterdam is one of the great canal towns and the contribution of its southern bank to New York state’s economy deserves this recognition.”
Amsterdam, once known as the Carpet City for the numerous mills that employed many of its residents, had made strides in recent years to embrace its link to the Erie Canal, which runs on the Mohawk River through the city. Riverlink Park is the site for many of the city’s popular festivals. It is home to the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that links the north and south sides of Amsterdam and enables canal boaters who dock in Amsterdam and users of the Erie Canal Trailway to more easily explore the city. Opened in 2016, the bridge was supported by $17.5 million in state funding. It is now the meeting place for Amsterdamians and visitors who enjoy festivals, fairs, and other events on the bridge and at its entry points.
“Growing up on the South Side of the City of Amsterdam, which was originally named Port Jackson, the area of the city was always rich in history due to the Erie Canal and the expansion that happened there,” said Amsterdam Mayor Mike Villa. “Dedicating the tug boat to the area reinvests our ties to the now-filled-in Erie Canal on the South Side. I hope that the area is appreciated and utilized by building more amenities and tourist opportunities, like the MVGO whose connection already helps residents’ traverse both sides of the Mohawk River opening up the area between the city’s downtown and learning about our abundant history.”
Amsterdam is also home to a popular kayak rental business, which takes advantage of the Erie Canal locks controlling water flow on the Mohawk River, and is headquarters to a water ski show team that performs on the river.
What was once Port Jackson lives on as Amsterdam’s South Side,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “Our community has not forgotten the amazing history of this small canal town that now only exists in history books. In naming this new vessel the Port Jackson, we preserve this historical name and honor the great City of Amsterdam.”
For more information on events in Amsterdam, go to https://www.amsterdamny.gov/our-city/things-to-do. To find out more about the Canal System, go to www.canals.ny.gov.
About the New York State Canal Corporation
New York’s canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. The canals form the backbone of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities. In 2018, New York is celebrating the bicentennial of the start of the Erie Canal’s construction.
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