Effort underway to preserve the iconic Steamboat Katahdin

All work will be done in the off-season.
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 4:00 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, Maine (WABI) - The oldest floating vessel built by Bath Iron Works is getting a major overhaul to ensure that it can continue to cruise Moosehead Lake for generations to come.

“You can’t go on this boat without falling a little bit in love,” said Liza McKeil, director of Moosehead Marine Museum.

Each summer it is estimated that more than 8,000 people flock to the Moosehead Lake region to hop aboard the iconic Katahdin steamboat.

“The one constant thing over the last 100 or more years has been this boat,” said McKeil, who started working on the Katahdin at 16-years-old.

Built in 1914, this historic vessel is not only an icon of Greenville’s history, she’s also an economic engine.

“We estimate that the economic impact of the Katahdin is that for every $1 spent on the Katahdin, another as many as $5 is spent in the local community,” McKeil said.

To keep the steamboat going, repairs need to be made.

“These spots we’ve marked with tape are ones that cause us concern,” she said.

A deck replacement project began in 2017 but was interrupted due to a small engine fire. As a result, the engine and the electrical systems had to be replaced.

They’re currently working with Bristol Marine out of Boothbay Harbor to replace the upper fan tail.

“The maintenance they’ve done has been great over the years on the boat but, once fresh water gets in that promotes decay in areas that are hard to maintain. This will be a great process in the next few years to rebuild all that upper-level deck and protect the boat for the next 50 years.”

“We’re doing a proactive effort to make sure we don’t have to worry about passenger safety and to my mind, it’s much better to get out ahead of things like this,” she said.

A campaign spearheaded by Moosehead Marine Museum is underway to help fund the preservation.

“We’d estimate that we’re going to need about $2 million to repair the rest of the upper deck and to haul the boat out,” said McKeil “We’ll keep the boat here. Our regular cruising season goes as usual and that’s why it is going to take five years to complete everything.”

Cruises for the 2023 season begin June 16th.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Click here to donate to help preserve the iconic vessel.