Marine Café Blog bids farewell to 2021 with one of my favourite subjects — tugboats. The following photographs, some more than a century old, suggest the reason why tugs have long held a fascination for many people. Although puny compared with the ships they tow, they pack a lot of power. They also exude a certain charm, whether idle at the docks or busy performing multifarious tasks.

Towin’ a big three-master,
   Haulin’ a brig or two,
Guidin’ a liner into dock,
   ‘Tendin’ a ship that’s new,
Easin’ a vessel gone ashore,
   Landin’ a shipwrecked crew, —
I’m fit for all them things, an’ more—
   So gimme a job to do!

— John Joy Bell, from “Song of a Tug” (1906)

McAllister tugboats at dock, 1949
Photo by Angelo Rizzuto (American, 1906-1967)
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Tugboat D.T. Sheridan, c. 1922
Photo from Bell Telephone Magazine, Vol. XXV, 1946. Captioned “This powerful modern tug is typical of the commercial vessels using coastal-harbor telephone service”

Paddler tug Titan, completed by Gourlay Bros. and Co. as Atlas 1865
Courtesy of Newcastle Libraries

Tugboat Wesley A. Gove, 1880
Detroit Publishing Co., publisher
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Naval tugboat Sleepdienst II passes full of guests on deck, 1930
Courtesy of Archief Alkmaar Commons on Flickr

Suffrage tug, Jersey City, 1910
Photograph shows suffragist Mina C. Van Winkle of Newark, New Jersey, holding a torch at front of tug boat. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2012)
Bain News Service, publisher
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Tugboat approaching a ferryboat crossing the Hudson from the Jersey side, 1952
Photo by Angelo Rizzuto (American, 1906-1967)
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

The tugboat ‘Seaburn’ towing the ‘Tanea’, 1950
View of the tanker ‘Tanea’ being towed by a paddle tug ‘Seaburn’ after launch by John Crown & Sons Ltd, 17 May 1950
Courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

W.B. Morley being towed into St. Clair ship canal, c. 1903
Detroit Publishing Co., publisher
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

Rear view of tugboats approaching a wharf, possibly in Cleveland, Ohio, 1903
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, USA

See more interesting tugboat photos in:

 

Tugboats at work in awesome old photographs

~ Barista Uno

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