The Day Peckinpaugh was the first motorship of her kind designed to navigate both the open waters of the Great Lakes and the New York State Barge Canal System. Put into service in 1921, she transported bulk cargoes between the midwest and the port of New York.
Day Peckinpaugh, 1949
The Peckinpaugh's early cargo included grain, sugar, flax seed and pig iron. By the 1950's the vessel was exclusively carrying dry cement from Oswego, New York to Rome. She was also the last regularly scheduled commercial hauler on the canal and retired from service in 1994.
The last surviving example of a canal motorship, the Day Peckinpaugh was saved from being scrapped in 2005 when she was acquired through a public/private partnership by the New York State Museum. Built at McDougall-Duluth Shipyard in Duluth, Minnesota, this historic craft was the first ever designed specifically for the dimensions of the Barge Canal. Known first as the Interwaterways Line 101 and later as the Richard J. Barnes, she has a capacity of 1650 tons, measuring 259 feet long, 36 feet wide and 14 feet depth of hold. She has her own engines, galley and crew quarters. After her 1921 maiden voyage, she was followed by over a hundred similar motorships on the Barge Canal.
The largest artifact in the New York State Museum’s collection, the Day Peckinpaugh has returned to the waters of the Empire State with a new purpose. A second maiden voyage in 2005 from Erie, PA to Waterford, NY marked the beginning of a new mission, and a new life, for the storied vessel. Now home-ported at the historic Matton Shipyard in Cohoes, NY, the Day Peckinpaugh lies ready to embark on a new and important journey. With assistance from the Canal Society of New York State, the New York State Canal Corporation, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission, the National Park Service, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, private donors and volunteers, the ship will be rehabilitated and transformed into a traveling museum and classroom.
A recently designated National Register Historic property, the Peckinpaugh is representative of the rich maritime history of the canal system and brings to life the heritage of the canal and its waterfront communities across New York State. She will travel the Hudson and Champlain corridors in 2009 in recognition of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration.