By Dave Warner

Some interesting vessels have come through Little Falls in the last few years. Of note was the Viking ship Draken Harald Harfagre, which docked here in 2016. Then there was the Corning Glass Barge in 2018, accompanied by the Lois McClure.

On October 11, 2025, the Erie Canal Boat Seneca Chief will make a stop here while on their Bicentennial Voyage from Buffalo to New York City.

The Buffalo Maritime Center is constructing a traditionally built, full-sized replica of the Erie Canal Boat Seneca Chief that opened the Erie Canal in 1825. In 2025, the Seneca Chief will depart on the voyage from Buffalo to New York Harbor to commemorate the Bicentennial of Gov. DeWitt Clinton’s 1825 Inaugural Voyage.

The Center says this Erie Canal Boat is central to the story of the Canal and the state’s history. They plan on telling that story to open up the conversation about history and the community.

The project is one of the largest community boatbuilding projects happening anywhere in the world right now and one of the very few being built on public display. Over 200 volunteers are working on the project, with only two professional shipwrights leading the build.

All of the bolts used in the backbone structure were forged in BMC’s own machine shop by volunteers, who also produced a number of specialized tools and hardware needed to build the boat.

The cabin’s interior will be outfitted with cabinet-grade hardwood and finished in a style consistent with the 1820s. When finished, the boat will be 73’ long, 12’6” wide, and it will weigh over 40 tons.

Brian Trzeciak, Executive Director of the Buffalo Maritime Center, and his team, along with members of the NYS Canal Corporation and others, visited Little Falls to make plans for the visit.

Little Falls Mayor Deborah A. Kaufman stated, “A couple of weeks ago, we had a great visit with the Buffalo Maritime Center folks who are spearheading this incredible historic trip through the Canal. Their vision for the 2025 celebration and what they have in mind as they stop in the different harbors along the way is amazing.”

“It’s a real honor to be a stop along that tour, and I think that their enthusiasm and excitement for Little Falls as they looked at our harbor and Benton’s Landing could not be underestimated. They were excited, and we were excited.”

She said, “We’ve got great plans for this event. They’ll be coming from Herkimer into Little Falls, and we want to greet them with a band, a festival atmosphere, and lots of food, fun, and events, celebrating our history along the canal.”

Kaufman said that one of the most important things that hit home for her was a comment she received from them while walking through our historic harbor building. “One of the people on the tour mentioned to me, ‘You really are a canal city, aren’t you?'”

“When I realize that the canal has been the heart and soul of our city for so many years, I think it’s true; we really are a canal city and proud to be so,” she stated.

For more details, you can download the Erie Canal Boat PDF.