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For Immediate Release: 10/24/23
Contact: Craig Williams | 518-755-4516 |


Historical Schooner was Retired from Service at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont after 20 Years Traveling Northeast Waterways as a Floating Classroom

Old Erie Canal Heritage Park is Open from May Through October and is Accessible from the New York State Thruway (I-90) Eastbound at milepost 309 and from State Route 31 in Port Byron

The Canal Society of New York State today announced plans to permanently display the Lois McClure, a full-scale replica canal boat, at the Old Erie Canal Heritage Park on the New York State Thruway in Port Byron, NY beginning next spring. 

The historic replica was built in 2004 at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont and was constructed from designs based on documentation of 1860s-era canal boats found on the bottom of Lake Champlain.  The McClure is typical of vessels that traveled through the Park’s historic Erie Canal lock in the decades after its 1853 completion.

Before being retired by the Maritime Museum earlier this year, the McClure had served as a touring educational platform on the New York State Canal System and adjoining waterways for nearly 20 years and had visited communities from Lake Champlain to New York Harbor to the Finger Lakes and Western New York.

In time for the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal in 2025, the McClure will be displayed as part of a land-based exhibit on the Society’s historic canal channel at the Old Erie Canal Heritage Park.

The McClure began its journey from Vermont west on the Erie Canal on Monday, Oct. 16 and will be temporary wintered on Cayuga Lake, before being set at its final destination at the Heritage Park in time for the 2024 season.

Craig Williams, President of the Canal Society of New York State said, “The Society is thrilled to add the wonderful Lois McClure as a major attraction for Thruway travelers alongside existing historic canal structures and interpretive displays at the Park. The Society thanks the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, the Buffalo Maritime Center, the New York State Canal Corporation, and the New York State Thruway Authority for their partnership in making the Lois McClure’s journey to Port Byron possible. We are also especially grateful to the McClure family and our other Vermont supporters for underwriting the costs and other needs for this transit on the historic Erie Canal and for securing the McClure's future.”

Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Frank Hoare said, “From the Hudson River in the east to the western reaches of New York State, the Erie Canal has been an economic driver for the state’s and nation’s economies for nearly 200 years. The Thruway Authority is proud of its partnership with the Canal Society of New York State to house such an incredible piece of history that will be enjoyed by travelers for generations to come.”

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “I applaud the members of the Canal Society of New York State for their vision to acquire and convert the Lois McClure upon its retirement to an on-land classroom and attraction at the Old Erie Canal Heritage Park in Port Byron. Just as she has done for nearly two decades, the Lois McClure is plying the waters of the Champlain and Erie Canals on this final voyage to her new, permanent home – the replica canal schooner will continue to educate future generations about the Canal system’s maritime history.”


Founded in 1956, the Canal Society of New York State provides educational programming through its Old Erie Canal Heritage Park on the New York State Thruway in Port Byron, NY.  In cooperation with the Thruway Authority, this nationally unique interpretive center highlights an 1853 Erie Canal lock and the 1894 Erie House. Since its opening in 2016, the Heritage Park has provided a gateway for visitors to experience and learn about New York’s historic canals and other cultural attractions along the canal corridor. In 2023, the Heritage Park drew visitors from every state in the nation and from over sixty countries.

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