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Replica canal boat docks in Albion and heads west

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 August 2013 at 12:00 am

Floating museum will be open for tours Aug. 8 in Medina

Photos by Tom Rivers – The Lois McClure docked in Albion last night and left this morning, headed west for a public event in Lockport.

The boat will be back in Orleans County on Aug. 8.

MEDINA – A crew from Burlington, Vermont, is trying to turn back the clock by a century on the Erie Canal.

The Lois McClure, a wooden schooner built as a replica of a canal boat from the 1860s, is spending two months on the canal this summer. Last night the boat docked in Albion. This morning it headed west to Lockport, where it will be open for tours from 5 to 8 p.m. today.

The boat will be in Buffalo over the weekend for tours. It will stop in Medina on Aug. 8. The public is welcome to come aboard to see the boat from 4 to 8 p.m. The tours are free.

“We want to bring the perspective of history,” said crew leader Art Cohn, who is also executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, which owns the Lois McClure.

The schooner is a full-scale replica of an 1862-class sailing canal boat, constructed by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vermont and launched in 2004. Cohn said it is typical of a “blue-collar boat” on the canal from a century ago, used to move freight. Many families owned boats like the Lois McClure and made a living hauling goods along the historic waterway.

“It’s a unique boat today, but it was very common in the 1860s,” he said.

The boat has a traveling companion, a tugboat named the C.L. Churchhill. The tug pulls the boat at about 5 miles per hour.

The schooner is named in honor of Lois McClure, who has been a major contributor to the sailboat and other community projects in the greater Burlington, Vermont area.