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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Continues Tug Exhibit

Nov 08, 2012 08:22PM ● By Anonymous

The exhibit opened in the Steamboat Building of the St. Michaels museum in April, and continues to offer an interesting perspective on an iconic culture of the Bay Area. With our beloved Bay a so-called “highway” for tugs and barges, the exhibit explores the lives of the people who work on the tugboats, as well as the uses for tugs in the Bay historically, and today.

“When exploring the exhibit, visitors gain perspective on what has changed in the working world of the Bay since the arrival of the first tugs, and have the unique chance to hear from some of the captains and crews who make a living and live aboard these hard-working boats,” says Robert Forloney, director of the Breene M. Kerr Center for Chesapeake Studies. “Visitors have the chance to learn about the world of tugs from those who experience it directly—how they came to work in the fi eld, what it is like working on a tug, changes that they have seen over time, and even juggling their personal and professional lives.”

CBMM’s Folklorist Michelle Zacks spent time aboard tugs photographing them, and collecting historical photographs, and conducting oral history reviews all around the Bay to compile the elements of the exhibit, which includes stories and photos, as well as interactive displays, including an area where visitors can try their hand at handling lines and a display where people can try to “navigate” a tug and barge down a river and through a bridge. The exhibit also features a compound steam engine salvaged from a 1924 C&O Railroad tug. According to Forloney, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

“For those interested in history and industry, they will be given a historical overview of the work done by these vessels…Because the exhibit emphasizes the men and women on these tugboats and the variety of ways tugs affect their lives, visitors interested in personal stories and learning more about their communities will be pleased,” he says. “The interactive experiences engage audiences of all ages.”

The exhibit will run through 2014 and is free for CBMM members or with museum admission. For more information about the exhibit including museum hours and more, visit or call 410-745-2916.

In collaboration with the Push and Pull: Life on Chesapeake Bay Tugboats, the CBMM has put together a series of “Working Waterfront” lectures, the first three of which are scheduled to run throughout the month of November.

Working Waterfront: Delaware Program
Thursday, November 1, 6 p.m., Van Lennep
Auditorium at CBMM
$8 for members, $10 for non-members

To register, contact Helen Van Fleet at 410-745-4941 Delaware is a product of Bethel’s great age of wooden boatbuilding at the beginning of the 19th century and one of the very last survivors. A small but powerful river tug, the vessel has had a long history on the Chesapeake Bay moving boats, as well as helping to build its working waterfront. This year she celebrates her 100th anniversary and has undergone major restoration to mark this event. Join Mike Gorman, CBMM vessel maintenance manager, Boat Yard staff, and others with connections to Delaware’s long history, to take a close look at the recent conservation effort and hear stories about a very special tug.

Tide, Trade, and Tugs: The Ward Family of Deltaville
Friday, November 16, 6 p.m., Van Lennep Auditorium at CBMM
$8 for members, $10 for non-members

To register, contact Helen Van Fleet at 410-745-4941 The Ward family of Deltaville, Virginia, operates one of the last “mom and pop” tugboat companies in the Chesapeake Bay. Join an evening of conversation as several generations of the Ward family share stories of transporting crabs, oysters, produce, grain, and other goods by wooden buy boat, tug, and barge throughout the tributaries of the Bay.

Working Waterfront: Women of the Maritime World
Thursday, November 29, 6 p.m., Van Lennep
Auditorium at CBMM
$8 for members, $10 for non-members

To register, contact Helen van Fleet at 410-745-4941 Join an evening of discussion with some of the women who make the maritime world tick. Headed up by Nancy Taylor Robson, author of Woman in the Wheelhouse, the talk will explore her experiences living and working onboard tugs as the wife of a tugboat captain and a licensed mate. The conversation will also include the voices of other salty females from all kinds of work, both educational and industrial, within the traditionally male field.