August 1, 2005 Lois McClure
Ship's Log


Hilton Dier III

Hilton, who grew up in Vermont, is a renewable energy consultant in Middlesex, VT. He has worked with LCMM in many capacities over the years, as exhibit designer, and as a blacksmith on the Philadelphia project. He joins the crew this week as a volunteer.

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August 1, 2005 Newburgh, NY
Hilton Dier III

John Tichonuk, Krissy Kenny, Len Ruth, and I arrived by van on the Newburgh waterfront just before Lois McClure. Roger and the crew managed a gentle landing and we transferred people and supplies between the boat and the van. We found ourselves in a small but highly developed area of docks and restaurants. The main part of Newburgh covered the hill overlooking the waterfront.

Newburgh got its start as a shipping port. It is the first place north of the Hudson Highlands where a farmer could drive a wagon down to the river. Farmers from the “Black Dirt” country of Orange County would bring their produce down to the Newburgh docks, where cargo sloops would take it down to the cities of the lower Hudson. Canal boats started loading there within weeks of the opening of the Champlain Canal. Boats like Lois McClure must have been a familiar sight there throughout the 19th century. Newburgh prospered as an agricultural port until the railroads bypassed it in the 1850’s. The town’s business leaders countered by starting industries in Newburgh so that their fleets would still have something to ship.

Lois started her stay with a visit from the local Youth Bureau. Over 30 kids and their chaperones explored the boat from wheel to foc’sle, climbing into the bunks in the cabin, testing the depth of the harbor with the lead line on the foredeck, and asking a stream of questions. The local Boys and Girls Club visited the next morning, exploring and questioning with equal energy. The rest of the time we saw a steady flow of visitors.

We hosted several evening events. The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands had a gathering on board, and our usual educational efforts became an exchange of information. The former president of the group gave us a personal tour of the Crawford house, a beautiful early 19th century mansion built by a local shipping magnate. We also hosted the Downing Park Association, a group dedicated to preserving a park in the center of town designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, and Trestle, Inc., which works on beautifying the waterfront area.

It’s a digression from the Lois, but I have to mention Washington’s Headquarters. At the end of the American Revolution, George Washington had his headquarters in the home of local Dutch immigrants. It became an historical site in the mid- 19th century, and is beautifully preserved and furnished. Some of us from Lois visited, and it was a special experience to stand in the room where George Washington received news of the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown, scorned the suggestion that he become king, and sent out the letter to the governors of the colonies that suggested the form of our present government.

This morning (Monday) we stowed the gangway on deck, unhitched the mooring lines, and made a careful backwards sweep out into a one-knot current and a brisk south wind. With Churchill tied on the hip we motored south towards West Point. We passed Bannerman’s Island, the site of a ruined castle-like armory, and went through the narrows between Breakneck Ridge to the east and Storm King Mountain to the west. The scenery is as dramatic as the names. Both sides rise up steeply from the Hudson for several hundred feet, the ridge bare and rocky, the mountain thickly forested. It was a short cruise to the gray stone walls of West Point, and a berth at the south dock.

As I sit writing this, the sound of Erick’s fiddle is coming in through the cabin windows along with the cool evening air. Most of the crew is sitting out on deck. Tomorrow we will scrub the decks, touch up the deck paint, install some new rigging, keep working on a new rope fender, do a minor electrical repair, and, well, it never ends on a boat.

Phone: 802-475-2022