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Lock E-34 and E-35 are twins in several ways:  both have a lift/descent of 24.5′ and the top gate of E-34 is actually the bottom gate of E-35, as you can see here.  Tug DeWitt Clinton is about waiting to exit the bottom of E-34.

About a quarter mile downstream, we look back at E-34, as the heritage train is about the cross the “Upside Down Bridge,” which some will argue is not really upside down.

Remember I mentioned “rubble” in the last post, the rock that was painstakingly removed from the cut through the Niagara escarpment?    It made cheap building material, as seen in the 1840s canalside building once used to build block/tackle and other gear for canal boats.  Now it’s a museum operated by Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises.

There are a number of other stone buildings downstream constructed with “canal rock” and rock from local quarries.

Six miles to the east, we arrive at Gasport, where a sign says the population is “just right;”  by numbers that means about 1200 people.

The town was named by two canal travelers doing a scientific expedition in 1826.  They saw flammable coal gas (burning, I presume) in the area, and named the town.  It stuck.  The expeditionists were Amos Eaton, professor at Rensselaer School  and Joseph Henry, who went on to be first secretary of the Smithsonian Institute.

Middleport, population possibly just right too and under 2000, features one of the 15 lift bridges in the western part of the Canal.  These are as unique to this section of the canal as moveable dams are to the east.  Boaters radio ahead, and a bridge tender will respond.

Five miles east of Middleport, we arrive in Medina.  Note the large apple sculpture to the right of the photo.  Contrary to appearance, the fire department there was not trying to sink or fete the 1925 DeWitt Clinton.

Orleans County is not NYS’s largest producer of apples, but the fact that so many orchards line the canal makes an impression, especially when you look down at pickers working on ladders in the trees.  Click here for a photo from about 100 years ago of apples around an applesauce plant north of Medina.

The chief feature about the canal through Medina is the curving aqueduct that to this day carries the canal.  Some of that is captured by this “bird’s eye” view (scroll) from Arch Merrill, who wrote popular histories about this part of NYS.  Here‘s an aerial that shows the the canal carried over Oak Orchard Creek.

 

This NYS Archives photo is looking east over the curve, and the kids are doing what they’d never be allowed today.

Medina is known for its stone, shipped to projects near and far along the canal.  In fact, Medina is home to the Sandstone Hall of Fame, one of many “must see” sights in western NYS.   Medina was also home to a very young First Lady of the US, 27 years younger than her husband.  More info here.  Another interesting stop in town is the Medina Railroad Museum, housed in a 1905-built New York Central freight house.

Urger here is tied up at the west end of the curve.

At the east end of the curve, Oak Orchard Creek flows through a very large culvert and then over a waterfall to the right, and then eventually into Lake Ontario.

A few miles east of Medina is another culvertUrger, the blue/gold tug is moving through the canal above Culvert Road.

This is the view of Culvert Road from the boat.

It’s the open cultivated land that makes the “western canal” so different from the eastern half.

Between Knowlesville, above, and Eagle Harbor, this widening is the canal may have been a barge harbor.

Eagle Harbor UMC is clearly below canal level, as is much of the land in the area.  Check it out on a google map.

 

Here’s what looking south down Main Street [Albion] looks like when you’re passing under the raised lift bridge.   Less than a quarter mile down that street is Pullman Memorial Universalist Church, named for a hometown legend, George Pullman. Before his name became synonymous with luxury train travel, he and his father were known as the “go-to guys” for moving buildings that stood in the way of the project to widen the canal.  One can speculate about the influence the packet boats he saw passing had on his quest to create more comfortable train cars.

Since we’re here, it’s worth noting that less than three miles north just off N. Main onto Route 104 east is the Cobblestone Museum, a type of house material found elsewhere also but not with the frequency it is along the Lake Ontario/canal corridor.  The menu for the database is here.

East of town when I passed here in 2014 was this gem, Tender #6, dating from the 1920s. I’ll allow you to guess what transformation the #6 has seen;  answer at the end of the post.

In fall, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of boats want to clear out of the Great Lakes and get to warm salt water via the canal for the winter.

Hulberton is another one of those canal towns you’ve not heard of, unless you grew up around here.

These guard gates west of Holley are among the 22 sets in the system.

 

We’re now approaching Brockport, quiet on the canal during rush hour on the bike trail.

SUNY Brockport follows on a tradition of higher ed at this location since 1841.

 

And we’ll tie up for the night in Brockport.  Some things to know about the town include the fact that the first 100 mechanized reapers were built by Globe Iron Works here for Cyrus McCormick.  The town’s connection with the canal is celebrated in a mural in town;  murals depicting canal and community history are increasingly common.

By the way, if you know the importance of of General Isaac Brock on this part of the country and what side he was on, you might wonder why this town appears to be named for him.  It’s not.  It’s named for Hiel Brockway, a passenger vessel entrepreneur, founder of the Red Bird Packet Boat Line.

Sad story about Tender #6. She’s about 80′ down and attracting fish south of Shinnecock.

More photos from this section of the canal, including a 1941 restored Richardson yacht,  can be seen here.

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