Port Henry, NY | August 5
by Molly Sease
On the evening of August 2nd, I returned to the Lois McClure for my third consecutive year volunteering with the crew. Although I had been away for a year, the moment my feet touched her deck, it seemed as though not a moment had passed: I felt like I was coming home to not only a lovely boat upon beautiful waters, but to an amazing crew who welcomed my return with open arms. That first night, after catching up with old friends, I made my way to the cabin rooftop, my favorite place to sleep, and happily dropped off to sleep.
A full moon rises over the Schooner docked in Port Henry. Photo by Molly Sease.
The next day was an easy transit to Port Henry, where we would spend two days interpreting to the public. We tied up at the Town Pier in the early afternoon, and after completing preliminary chores (putting up panels and signs, decorating chalkboards, etc) in preparation for the next day, crewmembers Tom, Zach and I took advantage of the warm afternoon and spent the next couple hours swimming off the end of the pier. This was to become an evening ritual over the next several days; it seems the beautiful summer weather we had all been waiting for finally prevailed over rain!
Despite the good weather, the next morning saw a slow start to the open boat. Throughout the day, a steady trickle of fishermen, swimmers and other visitors from the town came aboard the Lois. The following day we saw familiar faces who brought other family members and friends to the waterfront. It was a pleasure to interact once again with the public- the best part of being a volunteer.
Molly welcoming visitors to the boat. Photo by Kerry Batdorf.
Many visitors were new to the boat and were interested to learn that Port Henry was an important port-of-call for canal boats throughout their existence on the waters of Lake Champlain. Historically, Port Henry was one of the largest producers of iron ore in the country before iron ore was discovered in the American West. Because of the high quality and vast quantities of iron discovered in its hills, Port Henry was permanently on the map. The iron ore was transported by canal boats similar to Lois' class north to Canada, as well as south along the new canal systems that were being constructed throughout the mid- and late 1800s. Once the iron ore reached its final destination, it was transformed into goods such as horseshoes, stoves, and hundreds of other products to be shipped throughout the country, and even found its way into large products like battleships.
19th Century birdseye view of a thriving Port Henry.
Although our stay in Port Henry took place mid-week, we hosted over 250 visitors. The stay was pleasant and had numerous other memorable events. Three nights in Port Henry meant three delicious dinners, one of which was steak grilled on deck by Tom Larsen. Thursday was a "free day" for some members of the crew, who explored the Iron Center, while others spent the day resting on the waterfront. That night, thanks to Dale Henry's generous offer to "babysit" the boat, the crew enjoyed an evening at First Mate Erick Tichonuk's house, where we dined on fish and chips. Many thanks to Erick and Sarah! It was the perfect evening to end our stay in Port Henry. Next stop, Westport!
Tom Scozzafava and the Moriah Public Works Department
Joan Daby and the Iron Center