This Wednesday, Buffalo will be welcoming a very special guest to our harbor – the STR Columbia (least remaining excursion steamboat in the US). The STR Columbia is the sister vessel of the passenger ferry Canadiana, which was a staple along the Buffalo waterfront from 1910 to 1956. The Canadiana took passengers from Buffalo to Crystal Beach, Canada, to enjoy the amusement park and the waters of Lake Erie. After years of attempting to restore the boat, she was scrapped in 2004. Unfortunately, if she could have held out for another decade, I bet that circumstances would have been a lot different.
Seeing that the Canadiana is no longer around, Buffalo is extremely fortunate to be welcoming her sister vessel for a spell. The vessel will embark upon her journey from Toledo to Buffalo, where she will set up at Marine “A” at Silo City along the Buffalo River for a one year stint. After the year is over, she will make her way to New York Harbor, where her interior is set to be restored. Once complete, the STR Columbia will be used as a passenger vessel along the Hudson River. There will also be an educational component included in the programming at that time. Previously, the STR Columbia underwent a $1.6 million dollar hull restoration in Toledo, which is only part of the total $18 million project cost (over $3 million has been raised thus far).
During her stay in Buffalo, the boat will be stationary (she is being transported by tugs), allowing for celebrations, functions and tours aboard the vessel. Hopefully, as Buffalo becomes accustomed to having a dynamic passenger vessel of this nature docked along its shores, the community will come to realize just how impressive it is to have a substantial cruise boat in our midst. This generation of Buffalonians don’t know what it’s like to have a majestic boat of this caliber in docked at the harbor (operational or non-operational). I have a strong feeling that after her stay, we’re not going to want to see her go.
On Wednesday, the STR Columbia will be greeted by a flotilla of boats that will include the Spirit of Buffalo and the Cotter fire boat.
Images: STR Columbia Project on Facebook