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tv   Steamboat Ticonderoga  CSPAN  November 26, 2017 9:49am-10:01am EST

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>> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. @c-spanon facebook history. is touringc-span cities. across the country exploring american history next, a look at our recent visit to burlington, vermont. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. the ticonderoga is one of the most visited sites here at the shelburne museum. it just stands out as what the , heck is this? what is this big boat doing in the middle of a field? it begs you to come on board. here at the shelburne museum, it's a campus of structures that sit on about 40 acres, and it is a village setting in many respects. but within that village, every
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structure houses an amazing collection. our founder, in 1947, amassed an amazing collection that the shelburne museum houses amongst 39 buildings. it's a plethora of objects and collections within collections, from impressionist art to weathervanes to cigar store indians and one of the largest objects she collected, which was the ticonderoga steamboat, which plied the waters of lake champlain from 1906-1953. -- it was built, as i said, in 1906, which you can look at as the cost or the changeover from the steam era -- the cusp from the steam era to the internal combustion engine.
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she was one of 29 steamers built on the lake and she was the last one. she basically operated on lake champlain as a day boat. the lake is over 125 miles long, but the ticonderoga ran from the vermont shoreline to the new york show line -- new york shoreline. her homeport was burlington, vermont. the passages were about an hour or an hour and a half, but she had her regular scheduled that she kept two. she kept to. it was owned and operated, the champlain transportation company and the lake george steamship company, by the delaware and hudson railroad company. it kept a really tight time schedule for the steamers. you could board a train in new york city, heading up to
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burlington, vermont, but you had to go on the new york shoreline and up to lake george. you got on a steamer there, you got off that steamer, got on another train, go up further along the shore and go up to westport and for the ticonderoga -- and board the ti and sale to burlington the next day. so it was a link in the transportation network of the time. through most of her time on the lake, she ran a regular route with the delaware and hudson railroad company, on a very strict schedule between the shores of vermont and new york state. but by the time that you got into the mid-1920's, late 1920's, things started to change. there was a lot more mobility for folks. people had gone to road transportation. the roads were much better. and in 1929, a bridge was built that crossed lake champlain, and
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that took a big cut out of the ticonderoga's usage, in terms of ridership. from that time forward, into the depression years, there was three years there were the ticonderoga didn't run because of financial constraints. there was nobody running it. but prior to that you had world war i, which is quite amazing, the fact that the ticonderoga survived that, and world war ii, a cousin of the need of matériel -- because of the need for matériel for the war efforts. a lot of vessels were decommissioned and scrapped during those times and it's almost like the ticonderoga was saved in the backwaters of the backwaters of vermont where it wasn't noticed much erie so it -- so it kept steaming through those eras and at the same time he kept its same aged, the same:-fired engine with -- same coal-fired engine. when you commit to the depression, and surely after that, when the delaware and
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hudson company decided we are not going to run that champlain transportation company anymore, we can make ends meet with these steamers anymore, they are antiquated, so a private investor came along and purchased the ticonderoga and the champlain transportation company. he was interested in a high-speed ferry and kept the ticonderoga running as a steamboat, more of an excursion boat. but he also ran into trouble because of the cost of running it. the cost of coal was rising. and he, in the late 40's, decided to get out of the steamboat business and went with the high-speed ferries, and he sold it. and essentially, to individuals -- two individuals purchased it and kept it running.
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they were former captains of the ti and they kept the ti going for those years. and they were instrumental in terms of saving the ti from the scrap heap. like others, they ran into financial problems and then it became -- he convinced electric to purchase the ti for the museum. and in 1953, after three years of the museum running the ticonderoga on the water, they had difficulty finding engineers to operate her. the boilers were tired. had to be inspected every year, and the amount of money that would have to go into them to make them passable again, it was too much to sustain. so electra and the board of the museum decided not to run the ti anymore. they were considering scrapping it but electra thought, let's bring it to a museum. so here we are, two miles from the lake, a 900 ton vessel on
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land. it kind of defies the imagination of how it got here, but is quite a feat and it's took a good solid year of planning. and it was pulled basically via rail, they built a double railway system and hauled it through the woods and fields and across another operating railroad track, to bring it here to the grounds of the museum in 1955. keep in mind that when a vessel is on the water, and operating, it has a crew. the ticonderoga had a crew of 26, who not only operated the vessel and make sure the passengers were comfortable but they also maintain and keep up the vessel. so when it came overland to the museum, it lost that crew. so here, the museum had another structure and already had many
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buildings by then and a fairly small and limited crew of masons and workmen and carpenters and painters to upkeep those buildings. but now they had a 220 foot sidewheel steamboat to maintain. so it was difficult, to say the least. i stepped on board as the director and project manager of that crew, of that effort. it initially i thought would take us three years. it turned out to be five and a half years. because once you start tearing into her, you start to see that the insulation has gone much deterioration has gone much deeper. this was during 1993-1998, where we essentially took the ti apart and put her back together again, all in line that she is a national historic landmark.
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she got national historic landmark status in 1963 and is one of the first vessels to achieve that. it's quite significant. most of the other wards were -- awards were given to buildings, historic structures. so here we had a, we had a duty and an obligation, of course, to preserve as much of the vessel as possible in that restoration project, in that process. it was humbling to be able to work on that, from that perspective, humbling to look at the history of the ti and what she represented, because at that time she was the last of her type in the world. so we knew we had to do our very best, and perhaps that is why it took a few years more than what we had initially anticipated, because we felt obligated to do it right.
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the ticonderoga is so important for future generations, not only our current generation, and the families who visit here today. but it's so important to preserve as a key element of our national heritage, our maritime heritage, the last remaining side wheel steamboat that you can actually go aboard and touch different areas of it and see what it was like to be on board. and it is something that is key to our national maritime heritage for this country. it's still in existence, to be able to come up close and personal and feel what it is like to be on board. cities tour staff traveled to burlington, vermont. learn more about burlington and other stops on our tour at
10:00 am tour. you're watching american history tv, all we can, every weekend on c-span3. announcer: michael kazin is the author of the book "war against war: the american fight for peace, 1914-1918." he discusses the legacy of antiwar activities during world war one and how they influenced peace movements from world war i through the vietnam war to the present. this hour-long talk was part of a conference hosted by the national world war one museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. >> good evening. my name is deborah buffton and i am one of the current cosponsors of this conference. i am delighted to see you and to welcome you to this event. it is my pleasure to introduce our evening speaker. every seer


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