Schenectady Harbor - August 21st-23rd, 1992 (The Batteau)


The focus of the August 1992 program in Schenectady was a reenactment of the departure of the survey batteau of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company from the old Schenectady Harbor on August 21st, 1792. (Read more about this expedition on the New York State Museum website.)

So it was a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate to the public the operations of a typical 1790s commercial Mohawk River batteau. The State Museum's replica boat was in every way the centerpiece of the weekend-long event, and for many who attended, "Discovery" was an education in itself. People continually asked about the boat, about batteaux in general, and about the old harbor and its history. The batteau became a catalyst for a great deal of solid educational programming - conducted in a very informal manner.

Click on any image to enlarge
The batteau under way The batteau, operated by a crew in 1790s costume and using 18th century equipment, was fully rigged and outfitted in a passenger configuration - with seats and a canvas awning on bent wooden hoops.

All eyes were on the batteau "Discovery"and her crew. Everything about the boat, as it appeared that weekend, was the result of extensive research by Museum staff. The end result was as authentic a visual experience as anyone could have created.

The batteau enters the old harbor The weekend program really began on Friday the 21st - the actual 200th anniversary of the 1792 embarkation - as "Discovery" entered the old harbor and approached its mooring, provided by the Schenectady County Historical Society.
John Anson works on the boat A quiet morning moment allows John Anson, the builder of the batteau "Discovery", to consider what still needs doing on his boat.
Anson nails name plate to boat There was always something to be tended to. Here John Anson attaches the name plate DISCOVERY - his last official duty as the boat's builder.
Getting read to set sail The boat is prepared for one of its numerous short voyages up the river that weekend, often passing the entire waterfront encampment.
Cannon salute for pasing batteau Anytime "Discovery" passed along the Mohawk River waterfront encampment, it drew cheers, the snapping of pictures, and occasionally a salute from an 18th century cannon.
The batteau at its mooring The batteau spent it's off hours moored quietly at the landing, but still drew the attention of people on shore and on the river alike.
A voyaguer canoe reenactment group The Bicentennial waterfront celebration's living history focus attracted other groups, such as the Beverwyck Brigade, who operated the Canadian counterpart of a batteau - a voyageur canoe.
Another 18th century replica boat The historic boat theme, and the opportunity to sail with a replica 200 year old batteau, brought a crew and their replica 18th century boat from some distance away on Lake Champlain.

 


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