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W.O. Decker

The wooden tugboat W. O. Decker was built in Long Island City, Queens in 1930 for the Newtown Creek Towing Company, a firm specializing in berthing ships and barges in the branch of the East River that separates Brooklyn and Queens. Originally called the Russell I for the towing company's owners, she was renamed the W. O. Decker in 1946 after being sold to the Decker family's Staten Island tugboat firm. One of the last steam-powered rugs built in this harbor, she was later refitted with a diesel engine.
From the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 through the late 19th century, New York Harbor was populated by a variety of towing craft. Large sidewheel towboats were used to move rafts of canal boats and other craft, picked up along the Hudson, down to the port where smaller rugs delivered them to their final destinations. Big oceangoing propeller tugs towed strings of coal barges from New Jersey to New England. Major railroads operated large tug fleets to transfer loaded railroad cars by barge to and from freight terminals in New Jersey and Staten Island. Private tug companies specialized in berthing cargo and passenger vessels.
Most of this activity died out in the middle decades of this century as trucking replaced rail and water transport; passenger liners gave way to airplanes; large fleets of cargo ships were replaced by fewer, larger container ships.
In 1986, the W. O. Decker was donated to the museum, where she is used in a variety of ways, from daily waterfront maintenance to private charters.
Extreme length: 52"
Length on deck: 50
Length at waterline: 48
Beam: 15'
Construction: White oak
Draft: 6
Rig: Mast for running lights
Gross tonnage: 27
Net tonnage: 18

Submitted by @lampbane

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