Saving 1890s era oystering barge is topic of WPKN radio show

Oystering barge of the late 1890s era. Photo by Jack Kochiss

Oystering barge of the late 1890s era. 

Dolly Curtis will interview Ken Karl and Joe and Jack Kochiss regarding the discovery of an 1840 oystering barge from the Eastside River fishing docks in New York City to the Fair Haven section of New Haven on Sunday, June 1, at 10 p.m. on WPKN 89.5 FM .

After decades of attempts the oystering barge is about to be moved to a marine museum and restored for its significance. The primary people involved in the  project will be talking with Ms. Curtis  about the details.

Boaters and historians as well as those who love turning a challenge into a reality may be interested in hearing about the oystering barge. The broadcast takes place live and will be archived on

“We are about to save a 125-year working boat from the late 19th century located by chance right here in Connecticut, unbeknownst to most of us, “Ms. Curtis said. “Also we are trying to fulfill a lifetime dream of Jack Kochiss and that alone makes this of much importance.”

Joe and jack Kochiss are Trumbull residents. Jack worked at Mystic Seaport for 25 years. He became an expert in commercial wooden boats in those many years while he was employed and writing publications and books on working wooden boats. Much of his writings are sought after, out of print and considered the “classics” on these working boats, according to Ms. Curtis.

“In this case we are saving an oystering barge of the late 1890s era from the New York City east side East River docks,” she said. “The wholesale fish markets were located there.

“Everyone of us is needed to save this barge. Ken Karl, an experienced preservationist is in charge, and he can tell you how each of us can help if you fancy history and preservation , are seafaring types or just mildly interested. We have an opportunity to salvage a piece of history together and not let another piece of America get ruined,” she said.

Ms. Curtis explained how the project happened. Jack Kochiss who had a love for sea-going vessels liked to walk in marinas for interest and enjoyment. On one of these jaunts he found this oystering barge left from the wholesale marketing days in the late 19th Century docked in a marina in Fair Haven and became excited about it.

He knew of these boats and their use in that earlier era and did not think there was one left any where, she said. He visited the marina regularly and learned more about the barge. For decades he has tried with his own resources to save it. He has talked with people in decision-making positions at Mystic Seaport. So have a few other people who are knowledgeable about the the significance of finding the barge. There has been sporadic attempts to save the barge and restore it for another purpose, she said.

“It is obvious from the location and lower part of the docking that the barge has served as a bar at one time in this Fair Haven marina,” Ms. Curtis said. “The owner of the marina has been more than cooperative in leaving the barge alone in the hopes of seeing it have another day in history restored and relocated. Otherwise it would not have been still there needing to be moved to a better location and restored. Now fast forward to where we are today and why it has become essential that the barge gets it due now and be moved and saved.”

The marina is to be sold, and there is a timing of 90 days involved, she said. Mr. Karl, a man with an enormous passion and great interest in seeing history preserved, has been working with the Kochiss twins for the last few years to gather information as to who would take the boat if they could find a way to move it. He is about to come into ownership of the right size working barge to move the vessel and a way to move the working barge to Fair Haven to do the necessary heavy work.

“It has become a challenge and a passion of these people to make this happen,” Ms. Curtis said. “It looks as now it may be able to happen.”

Mr. Karl and Joe and Jack Kochiss will discuss the preservation challenge on the radio show with Ms. Curtis as the host of the WPKN show , which was taped at the Kochiss home.

With the assistance of radio engineer David Schwartz it will be aired on his Sunday night program on June 1 at 10 pm pn WPKN 89.5 FM and archived at and under David Schwartz Sunday programs 10-12 p.m. 





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