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Yesterday we ended at a junction in the canal near red number 4 on the map below,  Montezuma NY.  Today we start about 50 miles mostly south at the southern end of Seneca Lake, at the town of Watkins Glen, at the balloon and red number 1.  This map clearly shows the Finger Lakes area.  The names of the lakes reflect the Haudenosaunee heritage, as this was once part of their homeland.  The numbers show the route we will follow back to Three Rivers.  We could have started at the X in Ithaca to get to the Erie Canal, but then we would miss the four locks on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.  In the 19th century, the Chemung Canal headed south from Watkins Glen, and by 1858, it connected to waterways in Pennsylvania, allowing for transportation of coal into the Erie Canal.   By 1878, however, all traffic ceased, and coal was transported by rail.  Only recently has a systematic survey of sunken canal boats and other vessels on the lake floor begun.  More here.

About halfway up Seneca Lake is a US Navy sonar testing facility I’ve seen only from land, likely from a high point in Sampson State Park .  Recall my caveats that I’ve not traveled much of this waterway.  The Finger Lakes area has a large number of wineries.

At the north end of the lake lies the town of Geneva, near what was once a major Seneca settlement known as Kanadaseaga.  Since 1818, this has been the top end of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and we’re looking south here.

About five miles down the canal from the lake, we arrive at lock CS-4 in Waterloo.  My very subjective best association with Waterloo is that wagons and then wooden automobile bodies were crafted here.

Seneca Falls is well-known as the location of the 1848 convention that ultimately led to the 19th amendment. Today there’s a NPS Historical Park located in a former knitting mill.  Not so well-known is the town’s association with the 1946 movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.”  The story starts on this bridge, with an event in April 1917 that led to this plaque commemorating Antonio Varacalli‘s sacrifice.

It’s a busy place for their canal fest.

Three very subjective associations:  Seneca Meadows Landfill, aka Mt. Garbage, and please do read that link for lots of superlatives and rankings as well as some innovation;  and Sauders Country Store.

And finally, this image of a notice from the late 1880s, commemorating an enterprising salt water captain who dragged a whale all the way here 132 years ago.  Likely, mules were involved, and I suppose it was on a deck barge.  The farther away from the sea he showed his prize, the less spectators were willing to smell, see, i.e., spectate.

If you’re expecting a falls at Seneca Falls . . .  it’s been gone for over 100 years, even since Van Cleef Lake was created, covering the falls.  The building is Trinity Church.

At the north end of Van Cleef, doubled locks CS-3 and 2,  are located.

Tug Syracuse exits the bottom of CS-2 as a flotilla of kayaks waits to enter to be lifted to Van Cleef.

The waterway between Seneca Lake and the

top of Cayuga Lake is narrow, tree-lined and splendid.  And beyond the trees to the left, marsh.  More on that soon.

At the top end of Cayuga Lake, we approach CS-1.

As I said before, this is a wetland area.  The name of the original inhabitants, the Cayuga, literally means “People of the Great Swamp.”  As is true of the Mohawks and Oneidas, the Cayugas have begun purchasing their land back.

The waterway below CS-1 travels along the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, public land preserving the wetland habitat for the many animals that live there. The link in that previous sentence seems to carefully avoid mentioning glacial Lake Iroquois, mentioned earlier in relation to the Noses.   The white spots on the horizon are trucks on the NYS Thruway, I-90.  Looking directly to the right of the tree, the Erie Canal for a short distance runs parallel to the Interstate, beyond the Interstate.  That’s where the junction at my newly-dubbed Tadadaho Island is and where we’re headed.

This drone shot looks southward back toward the junction, which you can almost see following the Seneca River;  where it takes a 90-degree turn to the right, that’s Tadadaho Island.  In the foreground you notice the remnants of an aqueduct.  If you followed the remnants off to the left, you’d be in Montezuma NY.

Here a tug/barge are about to pass it.  Note the people to the right standing on the aqueduct.

Looking back at it, you can see the arches.  There were 31 arches when it was completed in 1857;  all but 7 were demolished for the construction of the Barge Canal.  More here.

Let’s drop anchor overnight here so that you can check the links and maybe go ashore to a well-preserved lock over 150 years old at Four (yes, 4!)  Canals Park.  An alternative is to go over to the Wildlife Refuge and look for birds.

For drone shots, thanks to Jim Kerins.  Other photos, many thanks to Bob Stopper and Michael Riley, also author of Twelve and a Half Miles:  The Erie Canal in Cayuga County and Bridge Dams on the Mohawk.

There are at least two more installments coming.  To continue this series, I’ll reiterate what I said yesterday:  if you’ve done any part of the NYS Canals–even 10 years ago– and feel like adding here any info or photos, activity or historical context, please contact me.  You can supply photos of the area, activity, constituent, or era . . . Together we’ll collaborate to get that represented.  It could be like this one cruising the Champlain Canal in the 1950s.

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