Chief Uncas moves to new home

Paul Nevin, director for the Zimmerman Center for Heritage, works on the Chief Uncas on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to prepare her to move from Otsego Lake to Lake Clarke in Pennsylvania. (Kevin Limiti/

Chief Uncas moves to new home

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to

Cooperstown’s most famous boat, Chief Uncas, is moving to a new home.

The 55-foot-long boat, which is 109 years old and has been ridden by President Herbert Hoover, among other dignitaries, is set to be moved to Lake Clarke, Pennsylvania, so it can give boat tours on the Susquehanna River by the Susquehanna National Heritage Area.

Mark Platts, president of the Susquehanna National Heritage Area, said he has gotten “very intimate” with the boat, which has become a staple for Otsego Lake.

“We’ve come to appreciate how much people in Cooperstown really care about this boat,” Platts said, who mentioned he traveled up to Cooperstown seven times. “I think people’s reaction to this boat is just visceral, emotional.”

The size and weight of the boat, which is 12 tons or 24,000 pounds, presents a logistical challenge for transporting the boat to its new home. It is going to be dragged out by an excavator initially before being craned onto a flat truck. After that, it will take two days to transport it to Pennsylvania.

“It’s definitely different than a pontoon for sure,” said Paul Nevin, director for Zimmerman Center
for Heritage, who was working on the boat.

The knowledge of how old the boat is, the types of parties they may have had on it starting in the early 20th century and moving through the roaring 20s, produces wonder that can’t be replicated with a more modern boat.

Chief Uncas does and did not run on gas, which made it one of the first of its kind and the first on Otsego Lake. Instead it is propelled by electricity. Although it was converted to a gas-powered engine between the 1940s and 1950s, it went back to being electric powered in 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the boat’s existence.

The boat was named after a historical figure, Uncas, who inspired the character of the same name in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Last of the Mohicans.”

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