Historic Palmyra will host Art Cohn as he discusses the USS Spitfire, a 1776 gunboat from Benedict Arnold’s fleet, at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at Alling Coverlet Museum, 122 William St., Palmyra.
Spitfire’s wreck is currently in Lake Champlain, and has been documented by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
Cohen is travelling with LCMM’s replica 1862 canal schooner Lois McClure during its 2017 Legacy Tour commemorating the Erie Canal bicentennial.
The World Canals Conference, which celebrates canals as agents of transformation, inspired the 2017 Legacy Tour of Lois McClure. The tour pays tribute to the legacy of the canals and the northern forest trees that built the thousands of wooden boats that plied the waterways.
Visitors can board the schooner for free to explore the 88-foot long boat and an exhibit from 2 to 6 p.m. Aug. 31 at Port of Palmyra.
“The Lois McClure has a unique capability to bring 200 years of canal history to life while engaging people to appreciate and protect our legacy waterways,” said Brian Stratton, New York State Canal Corp. director. “It can also help inform how the canal system can best serve the evolving needs of present and future generations.”
During the tour, the schooner crew will share with community members and students a maritime perspective on the relationship between waterways and trees, canal boats and forests through an initiative called Stem to Stern.
“The forests and the waterways are a key to understanding how America transformed into a powerful and prosperous nation,” said Erick Tichonuk, LCMM co-executive director. “Using human and animal power, the canal builders cleared a pathway 60 feet wide and more than 400 miles long, much of it through forested lands, to create the water highway that brought an economic boom. Almost overnight, natural resources too bulky to ship overland became valuable commodities.”
The canals opened a floodgate of trade between the Champlain Valley, ports along the Hudson River and the Atlantic Seaboard and through western New York to the Great Lakes; however, the transformation also brought some unintended consequences. Stem to Stern is designed to spark insight into the impact of deforestation, such as eroded soil, silted waterways, loss of habitat for fish and wildlife and the arrival of invasive species.
Marking the transition to an era of sustainable forestry and environmental stewardship, the schooner will transport a cargo of white oak and white pine seedlings provided by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Trees for Tributaries program to be planted in communities along the canal.
Travel conditions for this traditional wooden vessel are weather dependent, so the schedule is subject to change.
Lois McClure was built by LCMM shipwrights and volunteers on the Burlington, Vermont, waterfront based on two shipwrecks of 1862-class canal schooners discovered in Lake Champlain. Since 2004, Lois McClure has cruised Lake Champlain, the Hudson and St. Lawrence rivers and the Erie Canal system, and has visited over 200 communities and welcomed aboard more than 225,000 visitors.
As an authentic replica, Lois McClure has no means of propulsion other than sail, so 1964 tugboat C.L. Churchill serves as power.
For information, visit lcmm.org.