The “Glassbarge” and the canal schooner Lois McClure (photo) are docked at Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park through Memorial Day, May 28. They will be open for tours every day from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Tours of the Glassbarge, which is owned by the Corning Museum of Glass, and that include lectures and glassblowing demonstrations, are free, but require reservations, which you may make here. Tours of the Lois McClure are self guided, and require no reservations.
Brooklyn is the vessels’ first stop on a summer long tour celebrating the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Erie Canal. From here they will sail up the Hudson to Albany, then across the Erie Canal to Buffalo, stopping at towns along the way. Returning from Buffalo, they will take a side trip southward through Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes, to Watkins Glen. From there, a ceremonial land journey will end with the tour’s conclusion in Corning.
Lois McClure is a replica of a schooner built in Burlington, Vermont in 1862 for the trade between there and other ports along Lake Champlain as well as southward through the canal connecting to the Hudson and westward on the New York State canal system. It’s possible the original McClure visited Brooklyn, perhaps carrying grain taken on in Buffalo for transshipment to oceangoing vessels at the Erie Basin. She was able to navigate the canals, with their low bridges, because her masts and spars could be folded down. This meant she needed an external source of power. On this trip, that will be supplied by the South Street Seaport Museum’s historic tug W.O. Decker. South Street is a co-sponsor of the tour, along with the Corning Museum of Glass and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont, which owns the Lois McClure.
A theme of the Lois McClure’s participation is the effect of the construction of the canals, and the commerce they fostered, on the forests of New York State and New England. The schooner will be carrying a cargo of white oak and white pine seedlings to be planted in locations along the tour’s route.