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All Aboard the Lois McClure at The Crown Point Historic Schooner Tour

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All Aboard the Lois McClure at The Crown Point Historic Schooner Tour

Crown Point Historic Schooner Tour: Travel Back in Time on a Replica of a 19th Century Schooner

The Lois McClure on a Voyage. Photo Courtesy Lake Champlain Maritime MuseumReady for adventure? Wanna take a ride? Well, you’re in luck! In conjunction with this year’s Farm, Forestry and Fishery Tour, the Lois McClure, a replica of an 1862 class sailing canal schooner, will offer free tours from 10am – 5pm this weekend (October 15-16, 2011) at Crown Point Pier below the Champlain Lighthouse. Since 2004, the Lois McClure has retraced the historic commercial routes that connect Vermont, New York, and Quebec.

The Lois McClure is modeled after two shipwrecks in Burlington Harbor, the O.J. Walker and General Butler. The O.J. Walker hauled heavy cargo for 33 years; its final voyage occurred on May 11, 1895 when it was caught in a severe storm in Lake Champlain. After the crew abandoned ship the Walker tipped, spilling most of its cargo, and then righted itself, only to sink shortly thereafter. Built in 1862 in Essex, New York, the General Butler also fell victim to a storm on December 9, 1876 as it approached Burlington; the steering mechanism broke and she crashed headlong into the breakwater. After everyone escaped, she immediately sank to the bottom of the lake.

In conjunction with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, construction of the Lois McClure began in 2002, based on extensive study of both the General Butler and O.J. Walker. An extensive team of volunteers and staff spent three seasons constructing the schooner from more than 20,000 feet of white oak, white pine was used to build the decks, while masts, booms and gaff were created from white spruce. All the wood was locally based, coming from Vermont, New York, Maine, as well as recycled Mahogany donated by NASA.

The Lois McClure at Lberty Island. Photo Courtesy Lake Champlain Maritime MuseumLaunched on July 3, 2004, the Lois McClure has traveled Lake Champlain, the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers, and the Erie Canal System, hosting over 150,000 visitors. The ship made an historic Grand Journey to New York City in 2005, followed by a Fall Educational Tour in 2006, the Grand Canal Journey in 2007, a Shared Heritage Tour to Quebec for their quadricentennial celebration in 2008, another quadricentennial Tour celebrating Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain‘s voyages in 2009 and a World Canals Tour on the Erie Canal in 2010.

Also making a guest appearance will be the tugboat Urger, the flagship of the fleet of vessels operated by the New York State Canal Corporation throughout the 524-mile Canal System. One of the oldest working vessels in the country, the Urger was built and christened the Henry J. Dornbos in Michigan around 1901, as a commercial shipping vessel. In the 1920s after being renamed the Urger, the ship spent the next 60 years transporting machinery along the Erie and Champlain Canals until she was eventually retired in the 1980s, where she now serves as a teaching vessel.

For more information and to make reservations, call 802-475-2022.

Dave Bower is Co-Publisher of The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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