This is not a vintage photograph of steamboats in Essex, NY. It was taken yesterday.
On Saturday, July 28, I was enjoying lunch with family and friends on the sun soaked outer deck of the Old Dock Restaurant. It was packed, but the service was swift and the quintessential “summer on Lake Champlain” atmosphere was relaxed, upbeat and joyful despite the memorial service for Judge Lewis taking place less than a block away.
Suddenly the most unusual music began to drift across the bay, gaspy but playful tunes, only a few notes long that reminded me of a calliope or maybe even a distant ice cream truck. Soon all of the diners on the deck were looking out onto Lake Champlain where a flotilla of miniature steamboats were releasing storybook white puffs into the bluebird skies.
As the steamboats chugged along, playfully dodging whitecaps and chasing each other from Beggs Point toward the Old Dock, and then past the ferry dock toward Rosslyn boathouse where they anchored en masse.
Identify this Steamboat Event?
The steamboat photographs in this gallery were shot quickly from my mobile phone, and while they’re better than no photographs at all, I kept wishing that I had brought my proper camera along to lunch. It would’ve been nice to capture some high-resolution images of this curious maritime regatta.
In passing along these photographs, I am hoping to learn more about the event. Can you help unravel the steamboat mystery? What was happening? Where are these steamboats from? Who are their owners? If you have any information to pass along, please contact us to help fill in the gaps. Thanks in advance!
Hat tip to Dee Carroll and Kevin Cooper whose comments (see below) helped me flesh out a few more details. I don’t believe that the steam launches we witnessed on Saturday were part of 13th annual steamboat rally on Waterford Canal given the date and distance discrepancies, but the photographs suggest that some of the same steam launches may have participated.
Plumes of white smoke rose gently into the late morning sky as visitors walked along the canal bank, taking in the sight of nearly a dozen steam-powered watercraft from another era.
The town’s 13th annual Steamboat Rally began Friday, when steamboats from up and down the eastern seaboard made their way into Waterford’s harbor for the annual event featuring craft and food vendors, music and entertainment for all ages. (Saratogian.com)
According to the International Steamboat Society the annual Waterford, NY steamboat rally (boat parade, social hour, fireworks) took place from July 4 to 7. I haven’t found enough footage from the event to verify sighting some of the same steamboats, but the following video from the 2011 Waterford steamboat rally reveals a few familiar steam launches.
- Lake Champlain Maritime Festival August 16-18, 2013 (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- VIDEO: Lois McClure among attractions at this year’s Steamboat Meet in Waterford (troyrecord.com)