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Century-Old, Electric-Powered Boat Chief Uncus Gets Back on the Water

Battery-electric vessels are becoming very popular, from day boats to large ferries, but perhaps an even cooler boat would be one that’s not just electric but also more than 100 years old.
Chief Uncus is a historic wooden boat that's also electrically-powered 6 photos
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Some of you may have heard of the Anheuser-Busch beer dynasty. It seems that Adolphus Busch, its co-founder, wanted an electric boat instead of a gas-powered one after his previous watercraft had caught on fire. According to the York Daily Record, that’s how Chief Uncus was born in 1912.

This historic wooden boat is now getting ready to take tourists on tours on the Susquehanna River, floating from upstate New York to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. That’s thanks to the Susquehanna National Heritage Area organization, which purchased the century-old Elco Electric Motor Launch and brought it back to life. Uncus Chief is not only looking sharp, but its brand-new batteries enable it to cruise for up to eight hours before needing to recharge.

That’s an interesting intertwining of the old and the new – a historic wooden boat will offer emission-free “river discovery” tours, thanks to modern batteries.

It took some work to get Chief Uncus back on the water. In addition to the refitting process itself, a truck had to transport the heritage vessel from its storage spot near Marietta in Lancaster County. A 125-ton crane was then used to lower the boat, still sitting on a cradle, into the river, York Daily reports. The cradle was then pushed further, where the water was deeper so that a small motor boat could pull the century-old vessel from it. All in all, Chief Uncus had a successful maiden voyage on the Susquehanna River.

Luckily, this unique heritage boat was brought back to life not just for show but for action too. As soon as it gets its certification from the U.S. Coast Guard, Chief Uncus will kick off tours on the river. This is expected to happen later this summer.


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