You are currently browsing the daily archive for April 20, 2020.

Get used to traveling through places you’ve never heard of, like Crescent, Scotia, Glenville, and Cranesville;  this is one of the many charms of the Canal.  Clinton’s Ditch created cities, not true for the Barge Canal, which took advantage of lakes and rivers.

Be sure to watch for these sunken barges in the water just after clearing the upper approach wall leaving lock E-9.

The water level is drawn down in winter . . . by use of the moveable dams.  The photo below, taken from the north side of the Canal, shows those same sunken barges.  They date from WW1!  Here‘s the background.

Here’s the main rail bridge west of E-9.  Again, I point this out because of all the train traffic on the north side of the Canal until lock E-19.

As we travel west, you’ll notice the excellent condition of the locks and buildings maintained by Canal Corporation;  however, hurricane Irene in 2011 caused serious flooding and damage to the system.  For photos, see tug44’s coverage.  At one time and possibly still today, lock masters compete for the prizes awarded to the best-kept lock, as scored on a number of mechanical, electrical, and aesthetic areas by the canal director and his team during their annual inspection tour of the system to determine where need is greatest for winter maintenance.

In summer, the lower Mohawk can be quite foggy summer mornings.

These photos were taken after we started moving, having stopped when channel markers couldn’t be seen:  without radar, lowered to fit under the low bridges, we can’t see the channel markers in the thick fog.

The Mohawk Valley, like the Hudson, has long provided building materials. South of lock E-10, Cranesville Block operates one of their quarries.

They’ve also taken over the Art Deco building designed by McKim, Mead, and White and built in the early 1920s for Adirondack Power and Light.  Adirondack was previously known as Mohawk Edison Company, before that Schenectady Illuminating Company, and before that Westinghouse Illuminating Company.  That alone should suggest the vitality of Mohawk Valley industrial history.

Amsterdam was once a city dominated by carpet and leather goods manufacture.  Mohawk Carpets, later called Mohasco, operated here from 1920 until 1987, when Mohawk moved away. Gloves manufactured here and farther north in Gloversville, are now mostly made in Asia.  In 1930 Amsterdam had a population of nearly 35,000;  today it has 17,000 and trending downward.  Other cities along the Canal have the same demographic pattern.

The road bridge just beyond these vacant buildings carries Route 30, which heads into the Adirondack State Park. In less than 15miles, you’re inside the park at Mayfield.  The waters of the Mohawk flow from tributaries both in the Adirondacks and from the south.

Just north of lock E-11 and moveable dam, visible to the left,  is this house, Guy Park Manor, an artifact from 1764, a time all inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley, European and Haudenosaunee alike,  lined up as either loyal to King George III or in rebellion against him.  The house was built by Sir William Johnson, hero from the French and Indian War and British Superintendent of Indian Affairs  for the northern colonies.  After the war of independence, this house and property of all loyalists was confiscated.  Loyalist, both settler and native, fled mostly to Canada except to return during the revolution as insurgents.  Want a Johnson biography?

Here’s the house in 1907, just north of lock E-11 under construction. As mentioned earlier, Hurricane Irene devastated the valley in 2011, seriously damaging the moveable dam, the lock, and the house.  The Valley is flood-prone, and the Canal was designed to prevent floods as well as to enable navigation.

About 2 miles west of lock E-11 and invisible from a boat is Old Fort Johnson, William Johnson’s base of operations from 1749 until 1763.

Then he moved farther north to found Johnstown, 10 miles to the northwest and where he lived until his death in 1774. The town still reveres him with this mural, below, featuring other town notables as well.

William Johnson is connected to First Peoples history of the area.  Molly Brant was his wife, and her brother, Joseph Brant, aka Thayendanegea, was a key Mohawk leader, who both became refugees in Brantford, ON after the American Revolution.

Johnson also convinced Pontiac to travel to Fort Ontario in Oswego to sign a treaty to end his rebellion in 1766.

 

A few miles west of lock E-11 and on the south side of the river one can locate remnants of the previous canal, Yankee Hill lock and Putnam’s lock grocery.  These are not visible from the boat.

 

Note these two photos of lock E-12, Tribes Hill, in summer with the gates pooling the water for navigation and in

in winter, gates open and the water level is much reduced to reduce ice damage.  The moveable dams at E-12 and E-9 are the only two that have automobile bridges installed.

Schoharie Creek, the Mohawk’s largest tributary, flows into the river just west of lock E-12.  If you look carefully, you can see remnants of another aqueduct. Some of the arches of the aqueduct were demolished when the Barge Canal  was built.

Not far beyond the ridge is the New York Thruway, where a bridge over Schoharie Creek collapsed in 1987.

The Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site Visitor Center in the hamlet of Fort Hunter has a great little museum.

Up to this point in our tour, the settlers were first Dutch and then British.  Beyond this point, ethnic another strand gets woven in:  impoverished religious refugees from the Rhine Valley, the Palatines.  Fort Hunter is named for Robert Hunter,  the colonial administrator here at the time of the Palatine settlement.  In a sense, they were pawns, expected to act as a buffer between the English colonists and the French and their allied natives to the north and west. Given the opportunity afforded by fertile land, the new group flourished, and grew independent of colonial control.  In the link in the previous sentence, Johan Conrad Weiser’s 1715-1721 dispute with governor Hunter illustrates this.

 

A few miles beyond Fort Hunter and on the far side of the NYS Thruway is this hillside in Auriesville NY.  You can see it clearly from the boat, and might wonder if you’ve slipped into a parallel universe.   To the right is the National Shrine to the North American Martyrs, and to the left is a complex of Buddhist temples.    Below the shrine is also a marker to Kateri Tekakwitha, a significant resident born a few miles to the west in what was known as Ossernenon.

From the river you can see bucolic farms.

and sometimes people fishing.  In recent years, Amish have been reviving agriculture in the region.

Not much is visible from the river of the village of Fonda, where a county fair has taken place since 1841.  And yes, ancestors of Henry Fonda settled the place.  Drums Along the Mohawk portrays life around the time of the American Revolution.  In the past 100 years, the population of Fonda has dropped from 2200 to 760.

On the north side of the river you may spot this sign marking Kanatsiohareke, a recent Mohawk re-settlement, or as they write on their site, “a Carlisle Indian Boarding School in Reverse”, teaching Mohawk language and culture.

And ahead in the distance is the moveable dam and lock E-13.  Note the high ridges on either side of the waterway.

Along the south side of the lock here is the Mohawk Valley welcome center, a rest stop along the westbound lanes of the Thruway that opened in 2017.

Waterford is now more than 50 winding Mohawk river miles behind us.

Photos, text, and any unintended errors  . . . Will Van Dorp.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,391 other followers

If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Archives