Historic tug and barge dock in Hoboken

May 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm 1 comment

What a better way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s historic exploration of the Hudson River than on a barge in the river itself. The Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, a combination of the Tugboat Pegasus of 1907 and the Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 of 1914, has been permanently docked in Red Hook, N.Y., since 1994. Now the two vessels voyage to Hoboken beginning on May 26 for a two-week stay, featuring a staged reading of the famous play “On The Waterfront,” live circus acts, historical programming and much more. See full list of events below.  
“Our vessels are direct descendents of the age of discovery and exploration” said executive director of the museum David Sharps. “Now, were retracing Hudson’s historic voyage.”

In addition to the quadricentennial anniversary of Hudson’s voyage, the events also celebrate the bicentennial anniversaries of Champlain’s exploration of the Hudson River and Robert Fulton’s first steamboat voyage on the river.

“These events are really perfect for the 400th anniversary,” said Gerri Fallo, Hoboken’s Director of Cultural Affairs. “We tried to combine all the anniversaries into one culminating celebration.”

In fact, the movie version of “On The Waterfront,” which is written about Red Hook, N.Y., was filmed right on the waterfront in Hoboken.

In addition to educational programs, the museum will also be hosting a “Sea Shanties” night where guests can enjoy sea songs, traditional Irish tunes, light refreshments and of course plenty of rum and beer. Popular children’s band The Fuzzy Lemons will perform on May 30 and a circus act called “CircuSundays” includes a Chinese acrobat, a German juggler, and a slackwire artist on May 31. See sidebar for a complete list of events.

Saving a piece of the past

In 1985, Sharps, a circus entertainer himself, found the 95 year-old barge entrenched in Hudson River mudflats in Edgewater, N.J. He thought the vessel would make a perfect showboat and quickly purchased the historic boat for $1.

“Hoboken was actually our first port of call.” – David Sharps

“There was eight feet of mud in the hull,” Sharps said. “Three hundred tons of mud had to be pumped out.” But after two years of extensive pumping and restoration work, the barge finally set sail and opened its doors to the public while docked right here in Hoboken.

“Hoboken was actually our first port of call,” Sharps said. The barge was docked in Hoboken for the entire summer of 1989 where it held art and historical exhibitions (see picture and caption). After stopping at Liberty State Park among other ports, the museum finally found a permanent home in Red Hook, N.Y.

“It’s been quite the adventure,” Sharps said. Now Sharps’ museum is part of the National Register of Historic Places and has been educating and entertaining guests for over 20 years. For more information on the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge or to purchase tickets for the upcoming events, please visit http://www.waterfrontmuseum.org.

Sean Allocca can be reached at current@hudsonreporter.com

Events aboard the barge:


• A screening of Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill Junior” with live accompaniment on May 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, $8 in advance.

• A staged reading of “On The Waterfront” by Brooklyn’s Brave New World Repertory starts at 8 p.m. Wine and cheese reception at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.

• Hoboken’s own children’s band The Fuzzy Lemons perform on May 30 from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets are $14, $12 in advance.

• “Sea Shanties” night features the Crimson Pirates, sea songs and tradition Irish music. Light refreshments and drinks available. Tickets are $12, $10 in advance.

• Brooklyn’s “CircuSundays” features a Chinese acrobat, German juggler and more on May 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $18, $12 for children under 12.

• “Tug & Barge Fundraiser” held on June 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. includes food and drink in nautical style. Tickets are $35 and up.


• School and group visit are available from May 27 through June 5 focusing on barges in trade and shipping, New York Harbor geography and more during a one-hour tour through the vessels. Reservations required. $7 per student. Call (718) 624-4719.

• Learn about the Port of New York and New Jersey with the Ports and Parks program, sponsored by the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, on May 30 and 31 at 1 and 5 p.m. Reservations are required.

• “Passport to the Hudson” introduced children to the harbor on weekdays from May 26 to June 4 from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Trips are planned through Hoboken schools. Call (212) 406-2225.

• The Dockside Tug and Barge Tour will let guests visit both vessels on May 27, 28 and June 2 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Sean Allocca

Hudson Reporter

Entry filed under: Get Wet, Maritime, Public Waterfront, Region. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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