Pechinpaugh Image
Ongoing Exhibitions :: The Day Peckinpaugh

 Day Peckinpaugh

In 2005, the Canal Motorship the Day Peckinpaugh was sold for scrap by her owners in Erie, PA.  Perhaps the owners didn’t appreciate or understand the historic significance of the Peckinpaugh. It was the first vessel built specifically for the New York State Barge Canal and the only surviving motorized barge of its kind. After a distinguished career serving New York’s waterways, but also those of the Atlantic during WWII, it was to be a truly ignominious end.  A consortium of private and public partners sprang into action to save this historic vessel. The Canal Society of New York State raised $20,000, entirely through private donations, to purchase the ship for the New York State Museum and for New York State. Since her return to the Erie Canal, the Peckinpaugh has traveled over 1,000 miles and hosted over 10,000 visitors.

The State Museum and its partners share a vision for the Peckinpaugh and the Erie Canal. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Peckinpaugh’s  preservation is important in our efforts to document and preserve the history of New York State and the United States. The Museum and its partners also believe that the Peckinpaugh can be the centerpiece of vital education initiatives while stimulating heritage tourism across New York.


Economic Impact/Heritage Tourism


  • The Day Peckinpaugh is emblematic of the heyday of the Canal System and is an iconic example of how the Erie Canal transformed New York into the Empire State.  State, Federal, and private organizations have identified heritage tourism along the Canal System as a critical component to upstate New York’s revitalization. The Peckinpaugh stands to serve as the flagship of that revitalization, and offers hope for canal communities from Buffalo to Albany and beyond.  


  • This project will create jobs. In addition to the skilled workers who’ll be engaged in the physical restoration of the Peckinpaugh over the coming years, the project will create and sustain jobs in education, heritage tourism, and marine trades moving forward.  Operational crew and interpretive staff will staff the vessel as she travels the waters of New York State and beyond, and her presence in canal and river towns throughout the Empire State will support local tourism efforts.  Already, local contractors and industrial supply companies are benefiting from the project.


  • During its 600-mile 2009 Quadricentennial voyage, the Day Peckinpaugh headlined heritage tourism events in 14 ports-of-call from New York Harbor to Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Burlington, VT.


  • During the Quadricentennial Legacy tour, the vessel hosted more than 10,000 visitors, including travelers from 12 states and as far away as China, New Zealand, and England


Education Initiatives


  • Thousands of fourth grade students each year will experience New York State Canal history – part of the 4th grade curriculum – in a tangible, hands-on way not possible through history books.  Thousands of school-age children have already stepped aboard during the Quadricentennial Legacy Tour and before to experience the magic.


  • The Peckinpaugh will travel the canalways through New York State reaching nearly every corner, bringing the State Museum to life-long learners of all ages who might not have an opportunity to travel to the Museum in Albany.


  • The Peckinpaugh will anchor a maritime educational facility at Matton Shipyard in Cohoes, teaching marine trades to high school and continuing education students who can apply those trades in New York’s maritime industry


  • The Peckinpaugh is poised to serve as a unique and singularly effective classroom for the marine trades with an emphasis on New York’s vast brown water network, preparing the next generation for high-paying jobs in the marine industry and supporting economic development at home. Practical, hands-on training for “brown-water” marine trades is becoming increasingly rare in New York, yet the canals, harbors, lakes, and rivers of the Empire State comprise one of the most complex and frenetic marine highway systems anywhere in the United States. 



Our Partners


  • New York State Marine Highway Transportation Company is a private sector partner that assisted in retrieving the Peckinpaugh from Erie, PA and assisted during the Quadricentennial Legacy Tour


  • The Canal Society of New York State is a statewide non-profit engaged in the business and government sectors related to New York’s canals and a central clearinghouse for the rich heritage of the Erie Canal.  The Canal Society was instrumental in the acquisition of the Peckinpaugh, resulting in zero taxpayer dollars being used for the purchase.


  • The New York State Canal Corporation. The Canal Corporation was critical to moving the project forward in an efficient, economical way. It has made facilities available for the work, helping to reduce expenses.


  • The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation offered the use of facilities at historic Matton Shipyard, part of the Peebles Island State Park facility. The Peckinpaugh will be the anchor tenant at Matton Shipyard, which will host historic ships from around New York and allow students to learn the marine trades as maritime historic preservation projects move forward.


  • Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission, part of the National Park Service, has been an active partner from the beginning, and designed and installed the interpretive panels in the ship’s main hold.  The commission was a major partner in the 2009 Quadricentennial Legacy Tour, administering funding and training and providing both volunteers and NPS staff as interpretive personnel for public stops.


  • Congressman Maurice Hinchey was instrumental in providing $175,000 in federal funding for the Quadricentennial Tour.  The congressman’s vision in identifying a project which could thematically and physically link the respective contributions of Fulton, Champlain, and Hudson ensured that thousands of school children from New York City to Plattsburgh could connect to their heritage, and to each other, in a way never before possible.


  • New York State Assemblymen Bob Reilly, Jack McEneny and Tim Gordon were instrumental in securing a $290,000 Environmental Protection Fund grant for initial stabilization and restoration work aboard the vessel, laying the groundwork for the 2009 tour and the capital rehabilitation work now underway.    


Day Peckinpaugh Project Support


  • Awarded $290,000 in 2007 from the State Parks agency in funding through the Environmental Protection Fund for initial stabilization and rehabilitation work


  • Awarded $75,000 in 2008 in quadricentennial funding through Congressman Maurice Hinchey for planning and preparation for the 2009 Quadricentennial Legacy Tour of the Peckinpaugh


  • Awarded $22,500 in 2009 from the New York State Canal Corporation through its Canal Greenway grants program.


  • Awarded $100,000 in 2009 in quadricentennial funding through Congressman Maurice Hinchey for implementation of the 2009 Quadricentennial Legacy Tour of the Peckinpaugh


  • Awarded $3.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding in 2009 for complete restoration and transformation into a traveling museum and classroom



Work Completed


  • All previously inoperable systems rendered operable including main engines and auxiliary engines


  • Steering system brought back on-line and steering motor repaired


  • Engine room bilge and other compartments mitigated


  • Main deck steel prepared and painted


  • Forecastle prepared and painted


  • Fresh water plumbing brought on-line


  • Forward and after masts repaired and rigged


  • Capstans and anchor windlass motors repaired


  • Piping array for cement unloading removed


  • ADA-compliant stairways to main hold installed


  • Interpretive panels designed and installed in main hold


  • ADA-compliant access ramps constructed and installed


  • Safety cover installed over steering shaft and airline aft of pilothouse


  • Deck hatches restored to operating condition
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