Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Canal Discovery w/ Doug Farley

June 6, 2008

ERIE CANAL DISCOVERY: The Day Peckinpaugh freighter

The older “canallers” among us can remember the days of the Erie Barge Canal when barges and motorships loaded with cargo plied the murky waters through the canal. One such historic vessel is the motorship, “Day Peckinpaugh.” If observed a few years ago, most would agree that the ship had seen better days; a lot of better days to be correct. But determination and perseverance are paying off and perhaps the “Peck’s” best days are yet to come.

The Day Peckinpaugh is a 1921 freighter that was the first of its kind to ply the waters of the Great Lakes as well as the Erie Barge Canal. It is a scaled down version of the larger ocean-going freighters that can be seen in the St. Lawrence Seaway or Welland Canal. Smaller yes, but still very impressive at 259’ in length and 36’ in width. The historic craft was the first vessel of its kind, built as a prototype for freighters that would fit into the enlarged Erie Barge Canal in the early 20th century. First yes, but also the last of over a hundred such vessels which remain in existence today.

The ship was built at the McDougall-Duluth Shipyard in Minnesota in 1921, especially for service on the NY Barge Canal and the Great Lakes. Originally named the ILI101 after the ships first owner, the Interwaterways Lines Inc. of New York City, and later christened the Richard J. Barnes when it served with distinction in WWII, carrying coal along the east coast in the service of the U.S. Merchant Marine. In 1958, the ship was again retrofitted to carry sand and gravel, and was renamed the “Day Peckinpaugh,” in honor of the man of the same name that was well respected in the Great Lakes shipping industry. Mr. Day Peckinpaugh was also the brother of well-known NY Yankee baseball player-turned-manager, Roger Peckinpaugh. The ship’s last assignment saw it carrying cement from Oswego to Rome, NY from 1961 to its retirement in 1994.

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