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Volume 2, Issue 6, April 17, 2017
The warmer temperatures of spring signal a renewed energy as historic ships and other maritime sites prepare for dockside visitors, passenger sails on America's waterways, serving as floating museums, and participating in events that highlight maritime skills of the past. This issue features two of our oldest tugs: one on the East Coast and one on the West.
Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins 

Tugboat Arthur Foss
The 1889 vessel, Arthur Foss, is the oldest wooden-hulled tugboat afloat in the U.S. and part of the historic fleet of Northwest Seaport in Seattle, WA. Originally named Wallowa, she was built to tow sailing ships across the Columbia River Bar where the river current meets with waves from the Pacific Ocean. The tug carried miners and supplies to Alaska as part of the Klondike Gold Rush, and later towed logs in Puget Sound before having a role in the 1933 Hollywood motion picture, Tugboat Annie.

Tugboat Arthur FossFollowing her acting debut, she was rebuilt by her new owner, the Foss Launch and Tug Company, with a diesel engine replacing the old steam engine, and renamed Arthur Foss. Her duties took her to Wake Island to help build air bases and harbors prior to World War II. She was the last vessel to safely escape the island hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor and was with the U.S. Navy for the duration of the war. She returned to Puget Sound after the war to tow logs until 1968. She has been a part of Northwest Seaport since 1970.

Arthur Foss is open for public viewing and also offers activities for all ages from maritime stories for pre-schoolers to diesel engine classes for teens and adults. In addition, there are monthly sea chantey concerts, and the chance for visitors to stay overnight aboard the tug. The overnight stays require advance registration and include using conveniences of the 1930s, a tour of the vessel, her history and a history of Puget Sound. The website of Northwest Seaport contains more information about the entire fleet and related events.

Tugboat Urger
The 1901 tugboat Urger was part of the fleet servicing New York canals from the 1920s to 1980s. She did not start out as a canal tug though, but was built in Michigan for commercial shipping and named Henry J. Dornbos. Her name was changed to Urger after she was sold in the early '20s to work in the New York State Canal System where she spent more than 60 years on the Champlain and Erie Canals hauling equipment and scows often used for canal construction and maintenance.

Tugboat UrgerShe was retired after her lengthy career with the Canal System, but retirement did not last long. In 1991, she began serving as a floating museum, cruising to various cities and towns along the canals, educating school children and adults about New York canal history and the importance the waterways continue to have. She also participates in canal-related community events as well as tug events, such as the Hudson River tug race held around Labor Day in Manhattan.

Urger is the flagship of the fleet that the New York State Canal Corporation operates throughout the 524-mile Canal System. She has seen a lot of changes since she first arrived at Waterford, NY, but she continues to captivate her audiences as she tells the story of New York canals.

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The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

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Photo credits: Tugboat Arthur Foss: courtesy of Northwest Seaport. Tugboat Urger: courtesy of New York State Canal Corporation. Devils Tower National Monument: courtesy of NPS/Avery Locklear

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2017 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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