• Thu. May 19th, 2022

Ferry company abandons historic ship

ByLinda W. Smith

Apr 25, 2022
The Adirondack ferry is being dismantled, as seen last week in Port Kent. Photo by Tim Rowland

A double-decker boat was used for the scenic crossing of Port Kent, which remains closed for the time being

By Tim Rowland

Lake Champlain’s venerable Adirondack double-deck ferry was scrapped last week, ending 109 years of nautical history and more recent debate over the boat’s suitability as a submerged relic.

“We are in the process of dismantling the Adirondack at the Port Kent wharf,” Heather Stewart, operations manager at Lake Champlain Ferries, said in an email Thursday. “The wooden superstructure is being removed so that it can transit through the lake and through the Champlain Canal to recycle its steel hull. We are doing the same process for the Champlain.

The Champlain is the company’s other double-deck ferry, which was built in Baltimore in 1930.

The crossing from Port Kent, NY, to Burlington, Vermont, which was closed at the start of COVID, will remain closed “for the immediate future,” Stewart said.

The diving community had hoped the Adirondack might be scuttled and marketed as a destination for underwater exploration, but after environmentalists objected, the state of Vermont denied a request to sink the boat. No serious discussion materialized to scuttle it from the New York side of the lake, state officials said in the spring of 2021.

The double-deck profiles of the Adirondacks and Champlain were a familiar site on their seasonal runs across the widest part of the lake. Unlike the commuter ferries that service New York’s docks at Cumberland Head and Essex, the Burlington run was a slower, longer run favored by tourists and sightseers.

The renamed Adirondack arrived on Lake Champlain in 1954, having already served several communities along the East Coast. It was built in Jacksonville, Florida in 1913 and was originally coal-fired. It was the last surviving American ferry of this type.

The task of cutting the boat fell to Fuller Excavation of Keeseville who, in three days, removed the wooden superstructure. The iron hulk will be towed to New York where it will be sold for scrap, foreman Noah Rounds said.

lake champlain ferry
Adirondack ferry workers in Port Kent prepare the boat for its final trip to New York, where it will be sold for scrap. Photo by Tim Rowland

Diesel engines and hazardous materials including lead, fluids and asbestos were removed in preparation for her final trip, Rounds said. Historical artifacts had also been removed for preservation.

History buffs and local residents strolled to the wharf to take one last look at the Adirondack – and express their displeasure at its demise.

Rounds said he understood the history of the Adirondacks and its sentimental value, and was philosophical about tearing it down. “I’ve never had to do anything like this before in my life,” he said. “It’s a piece of history, and I hate to see it go – but it’s had its day.”

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