More Than 100,000 Students Have Boarded the Tugboat URGER for a Unique Educational Experience Since 1991

For Immediate Release: 5/18/2016

The New York State Canal Corporation today announced that the 115-year-old Tug URGER is back in service as an educational teaching tugboat on New York’s Canals for the 25th consecutive year. Originally launched as the fishing vessel Henry J. Dornbos in 1901, she earned the name “URGER” for her 64 years of urging scows and barges along the Canal from 1922 through 1986.

In 1991, the URGER was reintroduced as a floating museum and classroom. Since then, more than 100,000 students have stepped aboard the URGER and walked away with a newfound fascination with the incredible legacy of the Erie Canal. The Tug URGER has been a key element in educating fourth graders across the state about New York’s historic Canal system and the role the Canal has played in the economic development of New York State.

“I am thrilled to kick off the 25th season of education and interpretation aboard the legendary Tugboat URGER,” said New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton. “Year after year, this iconic vessel provides an interactive, fun way for New York’s schoolchildren to immerse themselves in the rich culture and history of our state’s extensive Canal system. With the knowledgeable and dedicated captain and crew on board the URGER, this season is sure to be another success.”

One of the oldest working tugboats in America, the URGER is listed on the National Historic Register and is still operated as a “bell boat.” This means that the captain has no direct control of the engine from the wheelhouse, and instead signals an engineer with a series of bells and jingles, who then makes the necessary adjustments to the engine. This season will be led by Captain Steven Wunder, along with Engineer Mike Pelletier and Deckhands Mike Byrnes and Dave Gower. Captain Wunder has been a key part of the URGER program since it first began and he brings invaluable experience to this year’s URGER agenda.

“The URGER is equal parts flagship, museum, classroom and time machine; a vestige from another time, but also a perfect venue from which to reinforce the contemporary relevance and significance of today’s Canal system,” said Steven R. Wunder, Captain of the Tug URGER. “It is a privilege to skipper this venerable craft, bringing the story of the Erie Canal and its continuing lessons to children and adults alike all along New York’s waterways.”

The program also reinforces environmental stewardship of our waterways and helps students to “connect the drops,” which acts as a way to illustrate the relationship between our actions and water quality.

Teachers and school administrators interested in learning more about the Tug URGER program or scheduling a visit for your students, please call 518-436-3055 during regular business hours. Program sessions are scheduled at no cost to schools.

For a complete 2016 schedule for the URGER, please visit:


The New York State Canal System is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles, the waterways link the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, Niagara River and Lake Erie with communities rich in history and culture. For more information about the New York State Canal System, vacation opportunities and events call 1-800-4CANAL4 or visit

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Emma Lasch
Office of Media Relations and Communications
(518) 471-530