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This dissected ridge just beyond E-13 is referred to as the Noses, a gap already gouged, the opening to the west.  Looking west, notice that this break is used by the Thruway I-90 south of the River, north of it, a major railroad, and to the north of that, a major state road, 5N.  The 19th-century canal ran between the Thruway and the south cliff, aka Little Nose. The north is called Big Nose.

Here’s a quite technical geology article, but here’s the idea:  a fault line runs through the Noses, the single ridge that once held back Glacial Lake Iroquois.  Water then tumbled over a waterfall.  Eventually the ridge gave way here, and  water gushed out, draining the lake and scouring out the gorges of the Mohawk Valley.  Keep this in mind heading west.  According to First Peoples lore, the Great Spirit cracked open the ridge in anger, wanting to punish them for corruption, converting a lake into a river.

This gap was the way west for early settlement of what we now call the Midwest, and east for trade that led to the rapid expansion of the port of New York City.

Looking back east from the water, you see rail and highway traffic on opposite sides.  The Walmart trucks are explained by a Walmart distribution center near Johnstown.

Grande Caribe here appears from a lush valley and approaches the town of Canajoharie, and heads

into lock E-14, seen in the distance beyond the black railing.

Canajoharie developed into a major Canal port because of the work of Bartlett Arkell, founder of the Beechnut, originally a packing company.  Canajoharie is certainly a rewarding place to walk around, stopping at the Arkell Museum, the family home, other homes, and old churches.  Beechnut still operates in the area in a much larger and newer facility across the river from Amsterdam in Florida, NY.

Many old stone buildings can also be found in Palatine Bridge, the side of the river the lock E-14 is located on.

Note the sign just west of lock E-14.  Amish?

Several miles north and west of Palatine Bridge in Stone Arabia, this 1788 Dutch church is open to the public.  If you want a still-accurate portrayal of the area, click on this 20-year-old article.

Fort Plain, location of lock E-15, was once an important manufacturing center.  The town was first settled by Palatine Casper Lipe in 1730.  Fort Plain was also home to Bud Fowler, and if you’re a baseball fan and don’t know the name, you must click here, or just google him.

An intriguing very large white building on the north side of the river just beyond E-15 is the garage for salt storage and the Longhorn Trucking Company.  It’s intriguing because of its size and absence of windows, spawning in my experience a plethora of stories about its purpose.

A bit further west is the Old Palatine Church, built in 1770.  Major funders for the construction were the Nellis family, who remained loyal to King George, and therefore had to flee to Canada not long after construction.   As is true for the 1788 Dutch church in Stone Arabia, this church is open for special occasions.

Just before St. Johnsville is the fortified Palatine homestead built in 1750, currently restored and operating as Fort Klock.  Although it was located not far from the river via a trail that comes out between red buoys 408 and 410, it’s not visible from the river.

Lock E-16 leads us into the first “land cut.”  Because the river meanders so much in this section, Barge Canal builders decided to bypass the river to the south.

Canal boats often overnight at this very remote lock because of constant dredging needed to keep the waterway navigable.

Less than a quarter mile west of the lock is this  southside wall, actually a portion of old lock 34, and a good tie up for small boats.  The recessed stone section, visible in the foreground,  once accommodated lock gates.

The landcut created an unnamed island.  You can name it.  I’ve named it Jigonhsasee Island.

Guard gates between the mainland (right) and the Jigonhsasee Island control water flow.  Dredging is often needed here because of silting from Nowadaga Creek flowing in from ridges to the south.

If both guard gates above are closed, water is shunted over the Rocky Rift moveable dam, the most remote one on the lower Mohawk.  Invisible on the south side is the Thruway and south of that is the Indian Castle Church.

Just round this bend,

you’ll see a sign indicating the home of General Nicholas Herkimer, son of Palatine immigrants who settled this area.  Click on the link for much more detail.

The site is a worthwhile visit.  The obelisk to the left marks Herkimer’s gravesite. The 19th-century canal ran right in front of the house, so you’re looking at the south bank of the canal.

We’ll stop here.  A few miles ahead is the most spectacular lock in the system.

More on the Palatines can be found here.  There’s even an annual Palatine conference/reunion.   Some prominent US families with Palatine ancestors include the Rockefellers and the Zengers.

For more on the Haudenosaunee,  the story about the formation of the “Iroquois confederacy,” this is a good read.

If you want a diversion, catch the next charabanc and see the sights:  from Canajoharie to Howe’s Cave is 20 miles, and to Cooperstown is less than 30.   Cooper will come up again later.  Hurry back, or you’ll miss the boat west.

Drone photo by Jim Kerins.

Related and in relation to the 2020 canal season, here’s an article from boatUS.

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