New tugboat named after Port Jackson

Local officials unveiled the new tugboat in Amsterdam on Tuesday. From the left is state Cornal Corportation Director Brian Stratton, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Congressman Paul Tonko, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort and Amsterdam Alderman Paul Ochal. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

AMSTERDAM — Leaders of the New York Power Authority and state Canal Corporation, along with local representatives celebrated on Tuesday the new tugboat being named after the town of Amsterdam.

The vessel is one of the first new tugs added to the canal fleet in more than 70 years. The tugboat was named The Port Jackson in honor of what was a quintessential canal community. The community is complete with locks, canal stores, boat facilities, low bridges, a dry dock and was home to an aqueduct built to carry the Erie Canal over the South Chuctanunda Creek. In 1888, Port Jackson was annexed by Amsterdam and is now on the city’s south side.

“Today’s Erie Canal is not simply surviving, it is thriving,” said Brian Stratton, director of the Canal Corporation.

Stratton said one way the canal is thriving is because of a recent initiative — Re-imagine the Canal — the canal’s competition which asked for new ideas to build upon the canal’s attributes as a recreational and commercial waterway. From all the ideas of that competition, Gov. Andrew Cuomo formed a Re-imagining the Canal taskforce that is taking a closer look at how the canal can generate economic development and promote new opportunities for recreation and tourism all along the canal.

“A particular interest to residents here in Montgomery County and the Mohawk Valley will be an examination of how the canal can make communities like Amsterdam more resilient to the ravages and threat of global climate change,” Stratton said. “Around here, I know sometimes we must deal with ice jams and flooding, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be that way and that is just one of the tasks and one of the charges of the taskforce through it’s work and the months ahead, we’re going to try to find out.”

Stratton said to keep the canal thriving and operational for future generations, through the Canal Corporation’s new partnership with the New York Power Authority, the canal is being maintained more than ever, but employees working to maintain the canal need proper and safe equipment to do so.

On May 17, the Canal Corporation dedicated a tugboat named the Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and on Tuesday the corporation dedicated a sister vessel — The Port Jackson.

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said with the county being diverse, the waterway is what brings everyone together.

“It’s the most uniting factor we have across Montgomery County,” Ossenfort said. “I’m so proud to participate anytime we are celebrating that long tradition.”

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said the city celebrates another proud moment and what was once known as Port Jackson lives in Amsterdam’s south side.

“It’s an important part of our history, but also our future and we’re seeing that with the investments that we made with gateway overlook bridge and all the other number of investments made and being able to connect both sides of the city and celebrate both sides of the city, it’s really a wonderful thing,” Santabarbara said.

Congressman Paul Tonko said no matter how fast climate change is dealt with, there are always going to be threats and challenges.

“So it’s important to have an agent like the canal system working with us to deal with the management of flood waters,” Tonko said.

Tonko said it’s all about respecting the heritage of the canal community. He said the Erie Canal has played an important role in the lives of that community.

By Josh Bovee

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