the mighty Helen McAllister
rusting boat at the south street seaport
"The tug, Helen McAllister, ex Georgetown, ex Admiral Dewey, was built in 1900 at Port Richmond, N.Y. for the Berwind-White Coal Co. The tug spent the next 55 years as the stalwart of the Berwind-White fleet, towing coal barges to bunker the myriad of ships in New York Harbor. As coal bunkering diminished, the tug was sold to a tug operator in Charleston, South Carolina. In the 1980s, McAllister Towing and Transportation Co. acquired the tugboat company in Charleston, and renamed the tug the Helen McAllister. She continued to work in the ports of Charleston and Georgetown, South Carolina. In 1992, with its tall steam stack rebuilt, the vessel was brought to New York Harbor and used to help dock tall ships during Op Sail at the South Street Seaport. In 2000, McAllister Towing donated the Helen McAllister to the South Street Seaport Museum. When she was launched as the Admiral Dewey in 1900, the Helen McAllister represented the very latest in technology. Originally powered with a triple expansion compound steam engine, developing 900 HP at a working pressure of 150 psi, the tug was repowered after WWII with a 1930's Fairbanks Morse diesel engine. Of the 500 tugboats that at one time worked in New York Harbor, the Helen McAllister is the only remaining tug of that generation. With her characteristic tall stack and original bell system to transmit orders to the engineer, she reminds us of an age that takes us back to the 19th century. "