Niagara Gazette

August 5, 2013

Historic tour boat to stop in Twin Cities this week

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A historic vessel that last made its way through the Twin Cities in 2007, will return to Gateway Harbor this week. 

The schooner Lois McClure will dock Wednesday in the City of Tonawanda on a trip to commemorate the War of 1812 bicentennial. 

Built in 2004, the boat is an 88-foot replica of an 1862 sail boat,  the type that may once have been used in the Erie Canal. Organizers say it will be carrying the theme “1813: The Shiprights’ War and Other Stories.”

Organizers say the tour will be carrying the theme “1813: The Shiprights’ War and Other Stories,” with the initiative stemming from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vermont. 

“The shipbuilding races and naval battles of 1813 helped to determine the outcome of the War of 1812, and left a legacy of shipwrecks beneath the waters of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain,” said Art Cohn, the museum’s special project director.  “Our dynamic outreach program explores history where it happened, on the anniversary of the cross-border war that ushered in 200 years of peace.”

Cohn noted that many of its stops this summer will be geared to ports that “played significant roles during the War of 1812,” with many vessels of that age recently discovered at the bottom of the Great Lakes and other tributaries where significant battles where fought during American’s fight fight for independence from Great Britain.  

The schooner’s 2013 journey began in June on the Champlain Canal and will end in October. The stop in Western New York will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. 

The Lois McClure has cruised Lake Champlain, the Hudson and St. Lawrence rivers and the Erie Canal System since its inception, and has visited over 115 communities and welcomed aboard more than 150,000 visitors.  Many of the historic canals on which the schooner travels were constructed not long after the War of 1812, according to Cohn. 

Visitors can board and tour the vessel free of charge from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. after it arrives.