Written by Kim Lunman
posted on November 12, 2009 22:59
It looks like it could be the end of an era for the last antique wooden tour boat in the Thousand Islands.
The Morrisania, built in 1923, is being sold after nearly a century of cruising the St. Lawrence River.
Morristown Tour Boat Lines has put the vintage vessel up for sale for $65,000 US after a poor season meant its stake holders could no longer keep it afloat. The wooden boat's classic charm has attracted tourists aboard for decades for cruises in the Thousand Islands with breathtaking views of the area's fabled cottages and top attractions including Dark Island's Singer Castle and Heart Island's Boldt Castle.
The Morrisania, believed to have been built in Fisher's Landing, has had several owners and names on the River over the years and was a floating fixture in Alexandria Bay for Boldt Castle tours as well as Clayton over the years. But the mahogany tour boat made Morristown home for the past six years and locals are hoping a new owner might keep the vessel at the main dock of this town of 500 residents.
"It helped put Morristown on the map a little," said Morristown Tour Boat Lines manager Ron Wright. "The best case scenario is I wish someone would take it over and operate it out of Morristown."
He said the boat's 24 stake holders decided to put the Morrisania up for sale through the marine brokerage at Bonnie Castle Yacht Basin Inc. at Alexandria Bay after a slow season came to a disappointing close last month. Wright, who owns Wright's Marina in Morristown, said he is hopeful the historical Thousand Islands tour boat will at least remain in the region since it was the last of its kind in the area still being operated.
"We'll see over the next few months," he said in an interview aboard the Morrisania at the town dock before its final fall voyage last month. The decision to put the boat up for sale was a difficult one, he added. "In order to sell our insurance and docking fees we will have to sell the boat."
The 48-foot long charter boat, with a capacity for 40 passengers, was used in recent years for cruises to Chippewa Bay for tours of Singer Castle, wedding parties, shore dinners and twilight River cruises. But business was significantly down this past season over previous years.
The Morrisania was purchased by its owners to promote tourism in Morristown. But it didn't attract enough interest to make its Thousand Islands tours profitable.
“This year, tour boats became a victim of the recession”, said Wright. A sharp decline in passengers, in addition to rising operating costs and a rainy summer forced its owners to put the vessel up for sale.
Chartered cruises were up this season from several years ago from 7 to 13. They included charters from Waddington, Oak Point, Blind Bay, Chippewa Bay, Ogdensburg and the Dockside Resorts in Morristown. Unfortunately the passenger count was down nearly 50 per cent from last year from nearly 500 to 264 patrons this year.
Wright said he's hopeful a buyer of the tour boat will come forward to keep its rich River heritage alive and on the water in the Thousand Islands for years to come. "She's a part of our history," he said.
By Kim Lunman email@example.com
Kim Lunman, a member of the TI Life team, is an award-winning Canadian journalist who lives in her hometown of Brockville Ontario. Kim is a freelance writer who has written online, newspaper and magazine articles on the Thousand Islands.