Preserving the Small but Mighty Hercules

June 04, 2017 Posted by: Erika Brown
Built on the East Coast and launched on June 4, 1907, Hercules' first journey began in Camden, New Jersey. She traveled around South America to San Francisco in order to to tug her sister ship. Following that trip, she also towed sailing ships, disabled vessels, barges, log rafts, a caisson (a steel structure used for closing to locks) for a dry dock at Pearl Harbor, and a caisson to help build a Panema Canal lock.

Today, Hercules is a National Historic Landmark and lives on Hyde Street Pier at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. While her tugboat days are behind her, Hercules lives on as an important reminder of our recent past. To keep her in shipshape condition, a team of preservationists and volunteers regularly evaluate the details of the tugboat and addresses her many needs.

Most recently, the team found that the studs in the stern had begun to corrode and needed replacement.

Fortunately, they were able to replicate the exact studs needed to replace the old versions with newer and more sturdy models. One interesting note is that as the preservationists modify pieces of the tugboat, they brand the new pieces with the date so future teams will know when it was last modified. Preservation branded pieces on Hercules exist from as far back as the 1970s!

Preservation is a huge component of being able to share the many lives of ships and tugboats like Hercules. Projects like these maintain the well being of the vessel and ensures her survival for years to come. We are especially grateful to our volunteers as they always play a major role in restoration and preservation projects. Contributions of materials and supplies from individuals, groups and corportations aid the effort, but nothing takes the place of hands-on dedication.

If you are interested in joining this elite group of weekend engineers and deck crew, contact the Park's Volunteer Office at 415-556-1613.

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Last updated: June 1, 2017

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