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Let’s catch up on numbers using the distance table from tug Seneca.  At lock E-20, we are 95 miles west of Waterford.  Also, we have risen from 15′ to 420′ above sea level. For the next 18 miles, we’ll be navigating at the summit level in a laser-straight narrow channel, with a bike trail along the south side.  If you crop away the left side of the photo, this might be a jungle waterway.

Rome was a significant location even before settlers arrived;  First Peoples traveling between the Hudson and the Great Lakes would portage here.  It was sometimes referred to as the Oneida carry, or carrying place.  Because of a necessity to keep this strategic location, different European powers built a series of forts here.

Pay attention to the buoys;  at green 623, we’ll be about a mile north of the Oriskany battlefied.  Nothing is visiblefrom the canal, but here General Herkimer was mortally wounded when ambushed on his way to support a patriot force led by Colonel Peter Gansevoort who was under siege by forces of Brigadier General Barry St. Leger in Fort Schuyler, aka Fort Stanwix.  The ambush led to a bloody but pivotal battle in the American Revolution;  also significant, it pitted Herkimer against loyalist John Johnson, son of William Johnson, both sons of the Mohawk Valley.  Patriots and Loyalists were both allied with different contingents among the Haudenosaunee.

Although Herkimer lost the battle against the forces with Johnson,  it led St. Leger’s force to withdraw to Oswego and British Canada and the 1777 attempt to end the rebellion by dividing the 13 colonies failed, and we won the war.

A note on Peter Gansevoort, he was the maternal grandfather of Herman Melville, who spent part of his youth in Troy, across the Hudson just south of Waterford.  I’ve often wondered what Melville would have written had he traveled west of the Canal, rather than south to NYC and out to sea.

On the north bank as we approach Rome, vestiges of an industrial past are plentiful.  Here’s the dock where Day-Peckinpaugh, in her last years of service,  discharged cement into the silos in the distance.  From 1942 until 1995, Rome was also home the Griffiss Air Force Base, which consumed a lot of fuel.  In recent years, the former base has transformed into a business and technology park, still serving as an airport and housing a USAF research and development lab (AFRL).

During the early 20th century, Rome came to prominence for the manufacturer of copper, brass, and other metal products.   Revere Copper, maker of copper clad Revere Ware, operated here from 1928 until 1974, when the plant was mothballed and production moved to South Korea.

At its peak, Rome produced 10% of copper products in the US.

See the old General Cable water tower?  They had a large complex here from the 1920s until 1971.  The marina and area around the old freight house is referred to as Bellamy Harbor, after Frances Bellamy, sometime resident and originator of the flag pledge.

Below, we are looking straight west toward lock E-21.  To the right, we’re looking up the Mohawk.

Two reservoirs provide the water supply for the Canal.  Several miles north of Rome is the Delta Reservoir, where Mohawk River water is impounded.  Below the dam is a fish hatchery.


North of the reservoir is a beach, and this sign explains the origin of the reservoir’s name.  The other reservoir, Hinckley, is larger and about 15 miles farther east, draining into the Mohawk via the West and East Canada Creeks.

These guard gates stand just west of the Mohawk/Canal confluence.

Rome was also where Canal construction began, in both directions, on July 4, 1817.  Several miles west of Rome we pass the “junction lock” on the south side.  If you see this from the air,

it’s apparent as a junction between the Barge Canal going lower left to right in the direction of Oneida Lake, and the 19th-century canal traveling from Rome (lower right) toward Syracuse, to the south of the Lake you see in the distance.

The summit level ends at lock E-21, and beyond that

it’s downhill, and the power houses are west of the lock office, not east.  At this point, we are 420′ above sea level, and heading for Lake Ontario, usually about 247′ above sea level.

We continue tomorrow with our descent toward Lake Oneida and Lake Ontario.

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