Friday, September 22, 2006

Last Winter for 1897 Steam Tugboat?

A National Register-listed steam tugboat built in 1897 could be facing its last winter. Docked in Rugout Creek in Kingston, N.Y., the Catawissa, a 158-foot-long coal-hauling boat, has been deteriorating for years. "That creek is a hard creek, and it freezes hard, so we're afraid it will crack the hull," says Huntley Gill, trustee of the Tugboat Preservation Project, a not-for-profit based in New York City. Gill is also involved with the Kingston's North River Tugboat Museum, not yet open to the public, which sued the state of New York to win ownership of the vessel in 2001. "We're desperately trying to find someone who would take on this project."The Catawissa should be moved by early November, Gill says. Stabilizing the boat will cost between $500,000 and $1.5 million, according to Maine surveyor Charles Deroko, and restoration will cost $5 million. "Even though she's not very intact, and she's not in good condition, this is the last of her type," Gill says. If a buyer doesn't step forward this fall, Gill says, the Catawissa will be stripped of its valuable parts and sunk as a reef.

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