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Press Releases :: 05/18/07

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Albany, New York -- 05/18/07

(MAY 18, COHOES, NY) – State officials welcomed the 1921 motor ship, the Day Peckinpaugh to its new home today and announced grants to rehabilitate the canal boat and preserve the historic Matton Shipyard, where it will be berthed.
      The motor ship will be open for public tours on Saturday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the Peebles Island Open House. The Day Peckinpaugh is the most storied and longest serving of all of the motor ships that saw service on the New York State Barge Canal. While nearly 100 of these vessels plied the waters of the canal during its commercial heyday, only the Day Peckinpaugh remains. Plans call for it to be transformed into a traveling museum and classroom that will travel along the state’s historic waterways by 2009.
      Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the vessel was saved from the scrap heap two years ago through the efforts of the New York State Museum in partnership with the New York State (NYS) Canal Corporation, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the National Park Service and the Canal Society of New York State.
      During a welcoming ceremony at the historic shipyard, which is part of Peebles Island State Park, it was announced that the State Parks agency will make $290,000 available to rehabilitate the Peckinpaugh through a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund. The funds will be used for extensive repairs to the Peckinpaugh’s mechanical and structural systems
      Additionally, the NYS Canal Corporation announced $150,000 in funding through its Erie Canal Greenway grant program for the State Parks agency to help preserve the historic buildings at the Matton Shipyard and to accommodate the Peckinpaugh.
      The Matton Shipyard, originally established along the mule-drawn era Champlain Canal in 1899, re-opened in its current location in 1916 to build, repair, and operate barges and tugboats for service along the Barge Canal. One of the longest operating tug and barge shipyards in the United States at the time of its closure and incorporation into Peebles Island State Park, Matton Shipyard is perhaps the single-most significant remaining vestige of the rich maritime history of the 20th-century canal. The historic
shipyard, still intact but vacant, is ideally suited to tell the story of New York’s Canals and waterways, and to inspire future generations. In addition to the Day Peckinpaugh, the shipyard will become home to other historic canal craft and host visiting vessels. The goal is to create an educational center and premier heritage tourism destination as recommended in the “2005 Report on the Future of New York State Canals.”
      Renovations to the shipyard will include structural improvements to the bulkheard, repairs to the roadway leading to the dock, installation of electrical service, and work at the adjoining former Cohoes Barge Canal Terminal where the Peckinpaugh will be docked. Funds will also be used to rehabilitate and transform the main building into a classroom and exhibit space and to provide parking and access improvements.
     “We are so pleased today to welcome the Peckinpaugh to its new home in this historic shipyard,” said New York State Museum Director Dr. Clifford A. Siegfried. “As the first vessel of its kind and the last to survive, the Day Peckinpaugh is an integral part of the history of the Erie Canal system.
     “I want to thank the Canal Corporation and the State Parks agency for making funds available to restore this historic vessel and its new home. With continued support from the public and private sector, the Peckinpaugh will travel the state’s waterways again, sharing its rich history with generations to come.”
     "The Peckinpaugh represents the culmination of commercial canal transportation in New York and will serve as a unique tool in sharing the history of the state's waterways,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash. “At a time of rapid expansion, the Matton Shipyard was instrumental in the building, maintenance and housing of vessels traveling along the New York State Barge Canal. State Parks is proud that the shipyard is returning to its historic roots and providing a home for the Peckinpaugh as it continues its journey."
      New York State Canal Corporation Director Carmella R. Mantello said, “John E. Matton’s dream is alive and well today, as we give this incredible historic site a new lease on life as a home for historic craft like the Day Peckinpaugh and other venerable tugs, and as the ultimate hands-on learning experience for future generations. The Canal Corporation is pleased to support restoration of Matton Shipyard, which will be one of New York’s most unique heritage tourism destinations when complete, and will complement so many other wonderful things happening in Cohoes and all throughout the Canal Corridor.”
     “The Day Peckinpaugh is an authentic link to the Erie Canal’s rich heritage,” said Frank Dean, executive director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. “Still operating under its own steam, the ‘Peck will now become a moveable museum and roving ambassador along the canal corridor. The significance of the Day Peckinpaugh is evident by the unprecedented alliance between our federal, state and non-profit partners to save her. The Erie Canalway is pleased to have provided the new interpretive exhibits aboard the ship.”
      The Canal Society of New York State provided the funding to purchase and move the Day Peckinpaugh back to the Erie Canal. A non profit organization dedicated to the education and preservation of New York’s canals, the Canal Society has been a canal advocate for over 50 years.
      The Peckinpaugh was built at McDougall-Duluth Shipyard in Duluth, Minnesota for service on the Barge Canal and Great Lakes. At 259 feet long and 36 feet wide, this historic craft was one of the largest to operate on the Barge Canal, and the first vessel designed specifically for the dimensions of the canal.
      Built for Interwaterways Lines Inc. of New York City, the Day Peckinpaugh was originally launched as the ILI 101, and later christened the Richard J. Barnes. During World War II, the Barnes carried coal along the east coast in the service of the U.S. Merchant Marine. In 1958, and after some extensive modifications, Erie Sand and Gravel Company purchased the vessel and named it the Day Peckinpaugh. The vessel’s namesake was a well-known freight forwarder in the Great Lakes region, and brother of one-time New York Yankees interim manager Roger Peckinpaugh, the youngest manager/player in the history of major league baseball.
      In 1961, the Peckinpaugh was converted again to haul cement from Oswego to Rome, which she did without fail until her retirement in 1994.
      The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Department of Education. Started in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the United States. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at
      The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 176 state parks and 35 historic sites. Additional information on any of these recreation areas is available by calling (518) 474-0456 or visiting
      The New York State Canal Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority, is responsible for the maintenance, operation, preservation and promotion of the New York State Canal System. The System is comprised of four historic waterways: the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture. Information on boating, vacation opportunities and news about the New York State Canal System, is available at or by calling 1-800-4CANAL4.

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