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tv   Steamboat Ticonderoga  CSPAN  November 23, 2017 6:49pm-7:01pm EST

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to manipulate people and manipulate them into doing the things that he wanted them to do while they thought it was their idea. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on q&a on c-span. this year, c-span is touring cities across the country exploring american history. next, a look at our recent visit to burlington, vermont. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. the ticonderoga is without a doubt the most visited sites here at the shelburne museum. it stands out as what the heck is this? what's the big boat doing in the middle of the field? but it begs you to come on board. here at the shelburne museum, it is a campus of mostly historic structures that sit on about 40
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acres. and it is a village setting in many respects, but within that village every structure houses an amazing selection put together or collected by electr webb, who was our founder in 1947. she amassed an amazing collection, which the shelburne museum houses amongst its 39 or so pilgdinbuildings. it's just a plethora of objects and collections within collections to see here, from impressionist art to weathhethe weathervanes to cigar stores to the largest item she collected, which was the tikonderoga. what's interesting about the ti, it was built in 1906. which was really wi, as you loot
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it from hindsight, the cusp from the steamboat era to internal combustion engine. and when they built her, they didn't realize that this perhaps might be the last boats built for lake champlain, but she was one of 29 steamers built for the lake. and she was the last one. basically operated on lake champlain as a day boat. the lake is over 125 miles long, but the ti ran from the vermont shoreline over to the new york shoreli shoreline. her berth home port was burlington, vermont. so a lot of times the passages were maybe an hour, hour and a half, not very long, but she had a regular schedule that she kept to. it was owned and operated, not just the tide, but the champlain transportation company and the late george steamboat company by the delaware and hudson railroad company. and so they kept a really tight time schedule for the steamers, as well. but you could board a train in
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new york city, heading up towards burlington, vermont, but you had to go on the new york shoreline and up to lake george, you got on a steamer there, you can get off that steamer, get on another train. go a little bit further up the shore and get off at westport and board the "ti" and sail to burlington the next day. so it was a link in the transportation network of the time. so through most of her time on the lake, she ran a regular route with the delaware and hudson railroad company, as a very strict schedule between the shores of vermont and the shores of new york state. but by the time that you got into the mid-20s, into the late 20s, things started to change. there was a lot more mobility for folks, a lot more people had gone to road transportation, the roads were much better, and in 1929, a bridge was built that crossed lake champlain down at
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chimney point. and that took a big cut out of the "ti's" usage in terms of ridership. from that time forward, you start into the depression years, and there were three years there that the "ti" didn't run because of financial constraints and there was nobody running it, but prior to that, you had world war i, which is quite amazing the fact that the "ti" survived that and then world war ii, because of the need for material for the war effort. a lot of vessels were decommissioned and scrapped during that time period. it's almost as if the "ti" was stuck or saved in the back waters of vermont where it wasn't noticed so much. it kept steaming through those time periods. all the while, it's kept its same engine, its same coal-fired engine, it's hand-fired coal boilers, that boil the water to form the steam that run the engine. and all of that time, none of
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that had been changed or converted like other vessels had. so she's very significant from the standpoint of that's a walking beam engine. so you come into the period of the depression and then shortly after that, the delaware and hudson company decides, no, we're not going to run the champlain transportation company anymore, we can't make ends meet with the steamers anymore. they're antiquated. so a private investor came along and purchased the ticonderoga and the champlain transportation company. he was interested in high-speed ferries, and he bought the "ti" but kept it running as a steamboat, but he too rab into trouble because of the cost of running it, the cost of coal was rising. and he eventually, in the late' 40s, decided to get out of the steam both business and just work with the high-speed ferries, the diesel-powered ferries, and he sold it. and essentially, the two
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individuals purchased it and kept her running. and they were former captains of the "ti," the fishers. and they kept the "ti" going for those years. and they were instrumental in terms of saving the "ti" from the scrap heap. but they too like others ran into financial problems and then it became a friend of electra's. and he convinced electra to purchase the "ti" for the museum. and then at that point, in 1953, after three years of the museum running the "ti" on the water, they were having difficulty finding engineers to operate her. and the boilers were tired. they had to be inspected every year and the amount of money that would have had to go into them to make them passable again was too much to sustain. and so, electra and the board of the museum decided not to run the "ti" anymore and they were considering scrapping it, but electra thought, no, let's bring
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it to the museum. and so here we are, two miles from the lake, a 900-ton vessel on land. and it kind of defies the imagination of how it got here. but it was quite a feat. and it took a period of a good solid year of planning and it was pulled basically via rail, because they built a double railway system and hauled it through the woods and the fields. and across another operating railroad track to bring it here to the grounds of the museum in 1955. keep in mind that when a vessel is on the water and operating, it has a crew. the "ticonderoga" had a crew of 26, who not only operate the vessel and make sure the passengers are comfortable, but they also maintain and upkeep the vessel, the boat. and so when it came over land to
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the museum, it lost that crew. and so here the museum now had another structure. it already had many buildings by then. and a fairly small and limited crew of masons and workmen and carpenters and painters to upkeep those buildings. but now they had a 220-foot side wheel steamboat to maintain. so it was difficult to say the least. i stepped onboard as the director of the project manager of that crew, of that effort. initially, i thought it would take us three years. it turned out to be 5 1/2 years. because once you start tearing into her, you start to see that the deterioration has gone much deeper. so this was during 1993, through '98. where we essentially, in many cases, took the "ti" apart and put her back together again.
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all in mind that she is a national historic landmark. she achieved a award of national historic landmark status in 1963, which was really one of the first vessels ever to achieve that. which is quite significant. most of the other awards were given to buildings, historic structures of that type. so, here we had -- you know, we had a duty, an obligation, of course, to preserve as much of the vessel as possible in that restoration project, in that process. it was humbling to be able to work on that, from that perspective. humbling to look at the history of the "ti" and what she represented, because by that time, she was the last one of her type in the world with a walking beam steam engine, a passenger steamer. so we knew that we had to preserve her, and we had to do our very best. and perhaps that's why it took a
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few years more than what we had initially anticipated, because, you felt obligated to do it right. the "ticonderoga" is so important for future generations, not only are current generation or the families that visit it here today, but it's so important to preserve, as a key element of our national heritage, our maritime heritage. it's the last remaining side wheel steamboat that you can actually go aboard and touch the different areas of it and see what it was like to be onboard. and it is something that is very key to our national maritime heritage, for this country. still in existence, to be able to come up close and personal and touch and feel what it's like to be onboard. our city's tour staff recently traveled to burlington, vermont, to learn about its rich
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history. learn more about burlington and other stops on our tour at c-span.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. next on the presidency, an interview with historian william seale at the white house. >> white house historian, bill seale, your latest publication with the white house historical association is called a white house of stone, building america's first ideal in architecture. you've written so many books about the white house, why this project about the stone of the white house? >> well, susan, the -- one thing that hadn't been addressed in the book is what's left of the white house. i mean, it's sacred historically, but what really is left and how did it get there? and that's why this book was written. >> so, before we get into the

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