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Day Peckinpaugh

The Motorship Day Peckinpaugh: A Restoration Success Story

Who She Was…

The Canal Society of New York State played an important role in the epic story of, the Motorship Day Peckinpaugh, the first of many self-propelled ships that once plied the waters of the Great Lakes and the New York State Barge Canal System, and now the last of her breed. She began at a shipyard in Minnesota; and served from 1921 to 1994 on the navigable waters of the northeast United States. She was saved from extinction just days before an inglorious and unsavory end in a Canadian marine scrap yard. The Day Peckinpaugh began her life in 1921 as hull I.L.I. 101 the first of her kind, a vessel built Interwaterways 101 specifically to fit in the locks and under the bridges of the recently completed 1918 New York State Barge Canal System. She was 254 feet long, 36 feet wide, with a hold depth of approximately 14 feet that could carry approximately 1,600 tons of cargo, seven times the carrying capacity of the average nineteenth-century Enlarged Erie Canal boats. The Day Peckinpaugh, at that time the Richard J. Barnes , was pressed into service in 1942 for a few years to refuel some of the ships that would comprise the mighty trans-Atlantic convoys. In 1958, the motorship was purchased by to the Erie, Pennsylvania, based Erie Sand and Navigation Company, owned by Sidney Smith, a Buffalo native. The vessel’s name was changed to Day Peckinpaugh in honor of a freight-forwarding agent in Buffalo who booked cargos and ships on the Great Lakes and happened to be a good friend of Sid Smith. In 1961, the new owners converted the vessel to fill a niche market hauling cement from Picton, Ontario, to new cement silos at Rome. The motorship operated almost exclusively on the waters of Lake Ontario and the NYS Barge Canal from 1961 through 1994.

Erie Sand and Navigation’s contract for hauling cement to Rome was cancelled in 1994 when trucks and railcars began bringing the cement to Rome. In September 1994, the Day Peckinpaugh made her final journey from Rome to Oswego. It was the end of an era.

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