The Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 at a dry-dock in Waterford N.Y. Photo credit: David Sharps
RED HOOK — An historic barge that was battered by Hurricane Sandy three years ago could finally return to its former glory.
The 101-year-old Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 was granted $269,274 in federal funds to support its restoration work after the vessel was severely damaged while docked in Red Hook during the hurricane.
The scope of the work required is vast, according to David Sharps, who bought the barge in 1985 for $1. He is also president of the Waterfront Museum, which is based on the vessel and hosts educational and cultural programs.
The restoration project includes replacing and repairing deteriorated planks, raising the height of protective sheathing on both bow and stern and repairing worn-out walkways, he said in an email.
In June, the Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 was towed upstream to Waterford, New York The U.S. Coast Guard required an inspection of the vessel on a dry-dock because of the damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy.
Just before heading upstate from its Red Hook home, the Waterfront Museum hosted its second annual Pirate Ball to raise money for the repairs and the round-trip journey. The recently-granted federal funds will support that project as well.
Photo credit: David Sharps
The grant is a part of $6.2 million in funding for 16 historically significant properties in New York that were devastated by the 2012 storm, according to an announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week. The money was given by the National Park Service and allocated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Other historic sites that received financing includes Green-Wood Cemetery for clean-up work and restoration and the Fraunces Tavern to help cover the cost of electrical repairs.
The Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 is well-known local attraction in Red Hook as home to the Waterfront Museum, which hosts programming for adults and children.
It is also "the only surviving all-wooden example of the Hudson River Railroad Barge that remains afloat and accessible to the general public," officials said.
Once repairs to the Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 are complete, it will undergo another inspection upstate before returning to Red Hook via a tugboat.
Sharps hopes to return to the neighborhood by Sept. 20 and open the barge to the public Oct. 3 with a concert. The Waterfront Museum also has an opera scheduled from Oct. 16 to 18.
David Sharps performs at the fourth annual North River Historic Ship Festival on July 1, 2012. Photo credit: Paul Lomax