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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Port Byron in Cayuga County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Tanner's Dry Dock

The Canalway Trail

 
 
Tanner's Dry Dock Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 16, 2015
1. Tanner's Dry Dock Marker
Inscription. The O.B. & H.E. Tanner Dry Dock was established near Lock 52 in Port Byron in 1873, replacing the earlier Ames Dry Dock. In its heydey, Tanner built and repaired a variety of canal boats, employing a crew of 18, including a shipwright, carpenters, caulkers, a blacksmith, a locktender, clerk, and day laborers. A ledger records that in 1904, Tanner serviced almost 300 boats, with storage fees ranging from $2 to $4 depending on the boat's size.

The concept of the dry dock was simple. A large basin floored with wooden planks, was connected to the canal by a narrow entrance and gate that could be closed to block the flow of water. When gates were opened, the bay would flood and a boat could enter for repairs; once inside, the lock would be drained to allow work to be done; when the work was complete, it would be reflooded and the serviced boat floated out to the canal.

Tanner's was one of about 44 dry docks that operated at different times and locations on the Enlarged Erie Canal.

Building & Launching a Laker. Tanner's built different types of canal boats, but lakers were among the most common. They were occasionally built from blueprints, but more often, were constructed directly by an experienced shipwright. A canal boat was built of oak planks two inches thick that would be nailed to a heavy oak frame. Its bottom
Left Text image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 16, 2015
2. Left Text
was flat. A laker required about 18,000 feet of oak and hard wood and 20,000 feet of white pine (used for decking and cabins). About 2-1/2 tons of spikes and nails were used, enough oakum to pack every seam - top, bottom, and sides - and a few barrels of paint.

It's been calculated that at $2.00 a day per worker in 1880, the labor for building a laker at Tanner's amounted to between $900 and $1000. Including materials, the boat's cost averaged about $3800.

When a laker or bullhead boat was finished, it was prepared for launching. Launch "ways" constructed from heavy timbers were thickly greased, slid under the boat, and raised to form a ramp. Canal boats were launched parallel to the canal because they were often longer than the canal's width.

Winches would then start the boat moving sideways down the ramp and with a giant splash, it would hit the water. In the years before the canal closed, Tanners also built pleasure yachts, launches, house boats, and in 1910, even a new gasoline powered "torpedo boat."
 
Erected by New York State Canals.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Erie Canal marker series.
 
Location. 43° 2.25′ N, 76° 37.154′ W. Marker is in Port Byron, New York, in Cayuga County. Marker can
Tanner's Dry Dock Images on Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 16, 2015
3. Tanner's Dry Dock Images on Marker
"The O.B. and H.F Tanner Drydock at Port Byron (main image) and the Tanner Dry Docks as shown on the Schillner maap c. 1890. Image [main]: Erie Canal Museum, Syracuse, New York. Image: New York State Archives."
be reached from Utica Street (New York State Route 31) 0.3 miles east of Main Street (New York State Route 38). Touch for map. Marker is in Schasel Park; the park is on the south side of NY Route 31. The marker is the north panel of a tri-panel kiosk. Marker is in this post office area: Port Byron NY 13140, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Metaphor for Change (here, next to this marker); Village of Port Byron (within shouting distance of this marker); Port Byron (approx. mile away); Brigham Young (approx. 0.3 miles away); Henry Wells (approx. 0.6 miles away); Glaciers, Drumlins, and High Level Lakes (approx. mile away); Blacksmith Shop and Mule Shed (approx. mile away); The Erie House (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Port Byron.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 
Bottom Text image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 16, 2015
4. Bottom Text
Bottom Images image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 16, 2015
5. Bottom Images
"The stone dry dock is evident in this image. A small canal barge is being constructed in the background, but hte foreground shows two sailboats and a tug are also being repaired."

"The launch of a canal boat at the Tanner dry Dock in Port Byron, c. 1900. She is about to splash into the canal and everyone is holding on."
The Canalway Trail Information Panel image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 16, 2015
6. The Canalway Trail Information Panel
Faces the parking lot.
Tri-Panel Marker Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, May 16, 2015
7. Tri-Panel Marker Kiosk
Old Erie Canal remnant is behind the kiosk. Tanner's Dry Dock panel faces the towpath / trailhead at left.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 22, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 24, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 162 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on May 24, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.
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