Double-decker boat was used on scenic Port Kent crossing, which remains closed for now
By Tim Rowland
The venerable double-deck Lake Champlain ferry Adirondack was cut up for scrap last week, ending 109 years of nautical history and a more recent debate over the boat’s suitability as a submerged relic.
“We are in the process of dismantling the Adirondack at the Port Kent dock,” Heather Stewart, Operations Manager at Lake Champlain Ferries, said in a Thursday email. “The wood superstructure is being removed so she can transit off the lake, and through the Champlain Canal in order to have her steel hull recycled. We are in the process of doing the same process for the Champlain.”
The Champlain is the company’s other double-deck ferry, which was built in Baltimore in 1930.
The Port Kent, N.Y., to Burlington, Vt., crossing, which was shut down at the onset of COVID, will remain closed “for the immediate future,” Stewart said.
The diving community had hoped the Adirondack could be scuttled and marketed as a destination for underwater exploration, but after environmentalists objected, the state of Vermont rejected an application to sink the boat. No serious discussions materialized to scuttle it on the New York side of the lake, state officials said in the spring of 2021.
The Adirondack and Champlain’s double-deck profiles were a familiar site on their seasonal runs across the widest part of the lake. Unlike commuter ferries that serve New York docks in Cumberland Head and Essex, the Burlington run was a slower, longer run favored by tourists and sightseers.
The rechristened Adirondack arrived on Lake Champlain in 1954, after having already served several locales up and down the East Coast. It was built in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1913, and originally powered by coal. It had been the last surviving American ferryboat of its kind.
The task of cutting up the boat fell to Fuller Excavation of Keeseville, which, over the course of three days, was removing the wooden superstructure. The iron hulk will be towed to New York City where it will be sold for scrap, said job foreman Noah Rounds.
The diesel engines and hazardous materials including lead, fluids and asbestos had been removed in preparation for its final journey, Rounds said. Historical artifacts had been removed as well for preservation.
History buffs and local residents have strolled down to the dock to have one last look at the Adirondack — and voice their displeasure in its demise.
Rounds said he understood the Adirondacks history and its sentimental value, and was philosophic about tearing it down. “I’ve never had to do anything like this before in my life,” he said. “It’s a piece of history, and I hate to see it go — but it’s had its time.”
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