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Behind the Scenes: Exploring Tugboats and Barges in Brooklyn

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The tugboat Pegasus and the Lehigh Barge no. 79 passing the Statue of Liberty in the rain. The tugboat Pegasus and the Lehigh Barge no. 79 passing the Statue of Liberty in the rain. (Etienne Frossard)

A trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park this weekend could yield a new look at tug and barge culture. The Tugboat Pegasus and the Lehigh Valley Barge no. 79 will dock at Pier 6 on Thursday for Tug and Barge Week, which features boat tours, performances and talks open to the public. 

In addition to exploring the boats themselves, visitors can attend knot-tying demonstrations and circus shows onboard. Almost all of the Tug and Barge Week events are free, and are meant to get New Yorkers informed about the city's waterways. (View a schedule of activities here.)

The Tugboat Pegasus and the Lehigh Valley Barge no. 79 were built in 1907 and 1914 respectively. Both are on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Captain Pamela Hepburn, who has been working on tugboats in the New York Harbor since 1976 and is one of the few women in the business, said tugboats are interesting to people for all kinds of reasons — from their iconic look to being the unsung heroes of the water.

"They are not acknowledged so much because they just do their work," she said. "They all look alike, no one distinguishes them, but everyone has some kind of fascination with them."

Activities on the Tugboat Pegasus and the Lehigh Valley barge no. 79, which is home to the Maritime Museum, will be going on as part of Tug and Barge Week through July 26 at Pier 6. The nautical events are organized by the Waterfront Museum and the Tug Pegasus Preservation Project.

The tugboat Pegasus and the Lehigh Valley Barge no. 79 show off their symbiotic relationship on a rainy day.

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Comments [1]

Jay Holmes from New York

The Tug and the Barge are great living connections with our harbor history and the shipping activities that that often go unnoticed today. Visiting brings the sights, sounds and smells these activities to life. To hear the engine rumble and meet the people who keep it breathing is a treasured experience. I volunteer on the Tug and it is the most amazing way to develop a first hand experience of life on the waterfront. Keep an eye out for the Pegasus!

Jul. 19 2011 05:40 PM

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